Summary: The web will remain an organisation’s brand showcase for the foreseeable future, providing a single platform to serve up content across all screens. However, when it comes to doing stuff, the majority of banking transactions are going to be on mobile and the best mobile experience is native.
With ever present budget constraints building apps for web and mobile platforms is not always feasible or desirable. Sometimes we may have to choose which one we do first. So how do we navigate the challenge around web vs mobile?
First up let’s agree that you’ll always need a website: It’s your brand showcase. It’s where you share information about who you are and how you educate customers about the brand and its offerings. We have been living in a mobile world for 2 years. This means that regardless of the discussion round web vs mobile you have to have a web site and your web site must operate well across mobile as well as desktop for the foreseeable future. With so much traffic coming from mobile, your website has to be mobile or tablet enabled (responsive).
Where the debate arises around web versus mobile is around the applications; the things you want your customers to do, and whether those applications are best delivered via web apps or mobile apps.
The insights to guide our decision making here primarily evolve around customer behaviour. First up is timing. News sites and their apps are a big category and are run by people obsessed with data. Let’s face it we all should be obsessed with data but due to the light touch nature of the relationship with their customers these folk have to be. At CNN mobile traffic remains pretty consistent throughout all seven days of the week, but desktop drops by half on weekends, reflecting industrywide trends. Desktop and the web is becoming a “niche platform” with massive numbers mainly between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m, when people are in front of the PCs at work, surfing as a distraction. Outside of these times its all mobile. It turns out banking is a little different because we don’t do our banking as a distraction. We do it to take care of our bills and our finances. We’re increasingly busy and the customers that banks want are the very busy ones. This means that there’s a bit of banking done during the day times but most of it is outside work hours. The most common time for people to log on to their mobile banking app is on their morning commute. Santander has pinned down its peak-use time to 6.55am. This means its’ customers are doing their banking just as their morning alarm goes off. The next most popular is 4pm on a Friday, as people weigh up their potential weekend spending.
Speed is critical. Time is money and customers don’t use slow sites. A one second delay in page time equals a 7% loss in conversions, 11% fewer page views and 16% decrease in customer satisfaction. Faster is better and your website and web-based applications need to be lightning quick or you will lose customers and revenue. This is important because with people dialling in at specific peak times you better make sure you’re up to the task. Having peak loads serve up lots of apps may not help you. Having them all pre-installed as apps just might.
Within three years, it is estimated 60 per cent of all transactions will be done on mobile – phones or tablets. This is because it’s the most convenient platform to use when we have time to do it. This is why Bill Gates has adopted a mobile first banking strategy. The Gates Foundation predicts that by 2030, the 2 billion people who currently don’t have a bank account will be making payments and purchases with their mobile phones, with our without banks. Mobile banking enables us to provide rich experiences to people outside the branch and with massive penetration, phones are a great acquisition platform: This is why Bill is getting after 2 billion new customers with his mobile banking play. With the majority of the transactions being done on mobile your mobile strategy better be first class.
Like Bill, banks around the world are adopting a mobile first strategy. Some, like St George are going Mobile Only. This is because as far as anyone can foresee mobile is the future. What wins mobile, wins the Internet. Right now, apps are winning and the web is losing because of how mobile apps engage customers according to the latest data from Flurry: Native apps beat mobile web apps hands down for engagement and stickiness.
This stickiness runs very real for Santander. Younger people are, unsurprisingly, leading the way. Tech-savvy and likely to have the latest gizmos, the typical user is around 27 and uses their native banking app about 20 times a month. Thats a lot! But the older generation are catching up. Over-55s now make up one in ten of Santander’s mobile banking customers, with most using their app between five and ten times a month. Mobile apps are changing the face of banking.
Commonwealth Bank of Australia highlighted the growth of digital interactions in its submission to the financial system inquiry. CBA processed more than 400 million transactions via the internet in FY2013 with more than 60 per cent of NetBank logins via mobile devices. Its new CommBank smartphone application launched in December last year has been downloaded by a million people and the bank said for 40 per cent of people using the app, it is the only way they interface with the bank online
HTML5 and Responsive design techniques continue to present an opportunity for cross platform development and there are a lot of people who say everyone should be doing it now to save money and time. If the toolsets and standards were truly cross platform and allowed you to build great experiences across iOS and Android they’d be right. Unfortunately native apps have the edge in some very critical areas for banking:
Interactivity/Gaming– The popular apps are all native because of a greater ability to build in interactivity – Think Angry Birds or Farmville.
Complex Calculations or Reporting– If you need something that will take data and allow you to manipulate it with complex calculations, charts or reports (think banking or investment) an app will help you do that very effectively. Web app performance is always dependent on network and browser connectivity whereas mobile apps with native plugins for performance management are always faster and operate better when those annoying network dropouts occur – Yes, even in 2015!
Experience Expectations. Building cross platform apps (web apps) means you need to build for the lowest common denominator and a design that deploys across iOS and Android. The problem here is that Android and iOS designs are very different and the users have come to expect that difference. There are a bunch of things that happen very differently across the two platforms. Each platform comes with a set of reusable components that can be built into the app to help the app “look and behave native” to the user.
Platform Specific: There are plenty of platform specific things you might want to take advantage of that are hard if not impossible on cross platform: Location services, fingerprint authentication, eliminating typing and integrating OCR and scanning capabilities. You can design around it but the outcome is not as clear as if you are to build natively for the platforms. Mobile apps are always faster and more efficient, as they work in tandem with the mobile device they are developed for. In February this year JP Morgan Chase announced that it will shut down around 150 of its 5,602 branches this year, and another 150 in 2016 as customers continue to shift to digital channels, particularly mobile, for basic transactions. The JPMorgan Chase app now has 19 million users, representing a 20% year-on-year rise. In 2014 the bank’s mobile cheque deposit feature that utilises the camera was used 45 million time, 25% up on the previous year, while the P2P payments service was used 30 million times, an 80% rise.
Banking customers expect more than an excellent mix of products: they are looking for superior customer experiences that fulfil basic expectations while providing added value. In 2014 EY discovered that customer experience is the most common reason for opening and closing accounts, more so than fees, rates, locations and convenience. If you agree that the majority of transactions are to be conducted on mobile and if native mobile apps give you greater execution and control over the mobile experience, we highly recommend a mobile app first strategy.