Banking via an app is now more popular with customers than using a website, with BBA stats showing there are 11m logins in the UK each day.
Meanwhile, customer expectations of the digital experience are growing, thanks to steady improvements in other sectors.
Higher expectations, plus low interest rates and the threat of new entrants and ‘challengers’, are forcing banks to become more competitive, which in turn has led to a renewed focus on the customer experience.
But has that actually created an improvement in the UX of mobile banking apps? And are there any features that are now so prolific as to be considered ‘hygiene factors’?
Insights from Mapa Research, which monitors developments in digital banking and analyses the sentiments of real banking app users, suggests that there are actually very few features within mobile banking apps that are now so common as to be expected by consumers.
Only seven identifiable app ‘features’ – including viewing your balance and paying someone from the app – are present in 75% or more of the 52 providers that Mapa tracks and monitors in its Mobile Banking Dashboard. Considering there are more than 100 mobile app metrics in this ongoing study, this is pretty low.
Moreover, only two UK high street banks (Lloyds and Barclays) offer all seven of these hygiene features within their mobile banking apps.
So which features are likely to become ‘hygiene factors’, as the digitisation of banking continues and customer expectations grow?
1.The ability to view pending transactions
Lloyds is currently the only UK provider to clearly display ‘pending transactions’ within its app.
Other providers simply show ‘balance’ and ‘available balance’, with little explanation as to why these two amounts may be different.
Digital trends have focused lately on ‘real-time’ information, and consumers will expect to see the transactions that have not yet been processed but will impact on their spending ability.
2. Pre-login servicing functionality
This is not particularly common in the UK, with only two high street banks providing access to customers’ account balances pre-login.
However, it is far more common elsewhere in the world, with a third of the international providers that Mapa monitors offering their customers this feature.
UK providers have been slower to adopt pre-login functionality – based on Mapa’s conversations with clients, this is likely due to the perceived security concerns of consumers – but the international apps that have introduced it are rated just as highly for security as the UK apps without, based on Mapa’s Mobile Banking Apps Benchmarking reports.
Making greater use of the unique features of an app, versus internet banking in the browser, is a trend we expect to see as banks aim to move users from one channel to the other.
3. TouchID for security
The option of TouchID for authentication or verification purposes is something that Mapa analysts expect to become a hygiene factor for banking apps in the relatively near future, as it was the most commonly introduced feature of the past quarter and is now offered by 37% of the monitored providers.
It is also a feature that is very popular with consumers – not just for speed and security purposes. Again, consumers appear to appreciate apps that make use of native features of their devices, such as biometric authentication.
Mondo is one of the most highly rated financial services apps in the UK market, according to Mapa’s research, and a likely reason for this is the way that the app integrates with the iPhone hardware.
4. Applying for new accounts through the app?
There is only one UK high street bank that allows new-to-brand customers to apply for a current account from the app. This is far from becoming a feature that consumers expect, but it is something that makes the provider stand out, and in an increasingly competitive current account market this is a significant advantage.
As they may see relatively small differences between financial products, customers are likely to be attracted by aspects such as customer service and customer experience. Providing a friction-free mobile on-boarding experience helps promote these elements.
Long live the banking app
While UK consumers may be getting tired of downloading apps, they are clearly happy to do so for their banking needs – 400,000 banking apps were downloaded each day in 2015, according to the BBA.
For those consumers expecting banking to get easier and faster as technology advances, traditional banks must keep pace not only with each other but with best-of-breed brand apps beyond financial services.
However, offering as much choice as possible in terms of the features and functionality you can activate in your banking app will probably be the key to winning over every customers in every segment.
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