Mobile Apps and Banks: The Disruption has Begun

Rakesh Tiwari, VP-Business Development (Enterprise Mobility), Robosoft Technologies

The mobile app ecosystem has truly disrupted the banking industry. A dictionary would define disruption as ‘disturbance or problems, which interrupt an event, activity, or process’. But what is happening to the banking industry is far beyond a mere ‘disturbance’. In business, true disruption happens when a product or service addresses a previously un-served market or offers a simpler, cheaper or more convenient alternative to an existing option.

Over the last few years, mobile apps have changed the way banking is done in India for a section of consumers. The ‘branch on the phone’ concept has taken shape - albeit for a select few, led by a handful of forward-thinking banks. But a majority of banks still rely on the old way of doing business. Right under their nose, millions of customers love the product experience in categories, both related to and unrelated to banking. E-commerce, mobile wallet-driven services, taxi-services and many others have raised the bar on the mobile experience. Such consumers will get accustomed to a smooth, premium, and personalized experience across categories. In fact, they will demand it in all categories. Their firm belief and expectation: a lot can get done on a 4x5-inch screen - be it sending money, making a payment, hailing a taxi or booking a movie ticket. What’s more, it is delighting the consumer along the way. The same consumer then turns to a mobile banking product and could very well face a sub-optimal experience. Enterprise apps within the segment too suffer from poor design and aesthetics. To overcome such disruptions and drive the future,  a few fundamental concepts need to be embraced whole-heartedly by CIOs, CTOs and CMOs alike.

User Experience will be a Competitive Advantage

As we see across categories, user experience is proving to be a competitive advantage for brands. And that is not just about design and how an interface looks. It calls for design thinking around the average consumer, focused on how a brand experience can delight him at every touch point, including digital screens. When it comes to mobile apps for banks, it is an even bigger imperative as the app has to help the user complete his task in the most efficient and satisfying manner without access to any human intervention (which is an option in a physical branch). It calls for an experienced and accomplished team who can think through an app design and user experience and make it delightful for the consumer across digital devices – be it a kiosk, computer, mobile phone or a wearable.

Value for Money is not Equal to Poor User Experience

Banks should not be under the mistaken impression that only premium consumers care for a premium experience. It should not be assumed that a consumer who has bought a relatively inexpensive smartphone cannot demand a ‘premium’ mobile experience. The mobile app has democratised user experience. It is no longer acceptable to provide a sub-optimal user experience as a lowest common denominator. Consumers are used to tasteful design and a premium experience across categories, at affordable price points – be it movies, mobile phones or mobile games and apps. Just as a consumer does not see or care for a well-written strategy document, he does not see how robust a back end in. He is only interested in how that translates into a good experience for him.

Aside from the above, CTOs and CIOs need to work closely with marketing and digital teams (who are expected to have a pulse of the consumer needs) to build in features, which make mobile banking useful. For example, apps in local languages or on-boarding experiences meant to educate first time users of mobile apps must be thought through.

In all, it is critical that banks embrace mobile technology and work with partners who have the experience and skill sets to deliver a secure, delightful user experience for customers. Or else, prepare to be left behind.