What is Mobile Banking?

confusedThe latest craze in banking is mobile banking.  Just about every bank and credit union has a mobile banking app; but what is mobile banking?

Recently, while driving down Kingston Pike, I noticed a competitor had an advertisement outside their branch that read:

Ask about our MOBILE BANKING APPS

Curious about what our competition was offering, I stopped in the branch and asked the customer services representative about their apps.  She had no idea what apps her credit union offered.  She asked the woman working the drive thru, who then clued me in on what apps they offered.

We have one for the iPhone and one for the Smartphone.

I then asked what the other app was since the sign suggested there was more than one app available.  She then informed me that there were two, one for the iPhone and one for the Smartphone.  I then asked her if she meant “Droid” instead of “Smartphone.”  She quickly agreed, and realized that her Credit Union only offered one kind of app, it was just available for two different smartphones.

It may sound like I’m picking on one competitor, but the fact is the term “Mobile Banking” has become so grey that not even people in financial institutions fully understand what it is.  Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • Mobile Website: Exactly what it says, when you go to a bank’s website via a smartphone, you see a formatted site specifically created for smartphones.  Typically these sites have less links, an option to sign in to Internet Banking and a link to the bank’s “full site.”
  • Mobile Banking App: In its most generic form, an app that gives you immediate access to your bank accounts.  Some banks are starting to offer account aggregation options with their mobile banking apps.  Account aggregation allows you to access bank accounts you have at other financial institutions.  In other words, customers can get a total picture of their finances.
  • Mobile Deposit: An app that allows you to deposit your check just by taking a photo of it.  This is a convenient app that can reduce trips to the bank.  How cool is that?
  • Mobile Cash Management: A fairly new app being offered by banks.  It’s an app for businesses that allows business owners to streamline their cash flow.  This can vary based on the type of cash management tools a bank offers.
  • Mobile Merchant Services: Perhaps the most popular example of this is Square.  This allows people to accept credit card payments with their smartphone or tablet.
  • Mobile Wallet: Exactly what it says, an app that works like a wallet.  You can store coupons, purchases and other information in this new “wallet.”

For people working with banks, be sure to find out what your current bank (or future bank) truly offers when it comes to mobile banking.  What kind of apps are available?  What security measures have they taken?  These are just two important questions people should ask their banker.

For people who work for banks, or credit unions, create some sales training and look for opportunities to educate you team about this trend.  There is no doubt that mobile apps are growing and can be a great way to improve or expand your relationship with your customers.

Welcome to the future!

Banks: Mobile Apps vs. Social Media

SmartphoneBanks are gearing up for strategic planning.  It’s the time of year where banks are evaluating ideas that have been tossed around all year and will decide what direction to take their company in 2013.  Two items that keep creating buzz inside and outside the banking industry are Social Media and Mobile Apps.  Both carry a good list of pros and cons that must be weighed out before an organization decides to test the waters.  Here are just a couple

Pros

  1. Communication: Social Media outlets are a great way to stay connected with you customers and allows customers to connect with your company in a unique way.  Until the last few years, companies sent talking points down via advertisements and press releases, but now customers can expand on talking points via twitter, Facebook and blogging platforms.  Depending on how many and what type of Mobile Apps your bank has, you can allow customers more communication to your bank.  They can check their account balances, post questions, report a stolen/lost Debit card and even deposit a check with their Smartphone.
  2. Education: Both Social Media and Mobile Apps allow you the opportunity to educate your customer base when it comes to financial responsibility, community involvement opportunities and general information about your Bank.  Banks can create a blog dedicated to establishing a “savings” mentality, or post a video on YouTube describing how to use online bill pay tools.  Mobile apps showing customers their spending habits can help people realize where they can curb unnecessary cost and improve household income.

Cons

  1. Communication: There is a possibility that a customer may give too much information.  There is also a possibility that a demented, frustrated banker may throw a wrench into your app and cause headaches for your customers.
  2. Education (or lack there of): If your bankers are unsure how to use your mobile apps, then how can they sale it?  Better yet, how can they provide customer service when someone calls about a problem?  If you have a Facebook page and no one knows about it, how effective is it?

Do the pros outweigh the cons?  Well if you ask me (a marketing/customer service driven community banker), then YES.  But that’s just one man’s humble opinion.

If you do decide to pursue either trending tech area this coming year, consider some of the following points:

  • Know Your Customer Base: If your customer base is small business owners who focus on B2B materials, would it make any sense to create a Pinterest account for your bank?  If your customer base is retail driven in a rural market, do you want to have an app specific to shopping in highly populated urban areas?  Think about your niche market first, then build around it.
  • Create a Diverse Team: I once heard a “Social Media Expert” brag about how they created their company’s Facebook page and how people in her company referred to her as that “Facebook person.”  That may have worked for that one person and may have even improved their Klout score, but would it not have been more effective if that person would have led a team of people in the company?  By pulling in people from different departments and locations, you will be able to get a better idea of what to create and know what possible obstacles lie ahead for your new app or social media site.
  • Get Buy-In from EVERY Level: From the Board of Directors to your part-time document imaging processor, everyone needs to know what is happening.  This will help with any customer issues that may come down the road and will keep everyone at your bank on the same page.

So, does your Bank plan on starting or improving your social media strategy for 2013?  Has your bank created a mobile banking plan for the coming year?

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