The War in Mobile Banking

Andy Schmidt, TowerGroup’s research director for commercial banking and payments, has recently commented on the differences between mobile operating systems and the propensity for banks to develop apps that support the big three players – iPhone, BlackBerry and Android smartphones.

According to TowerGroup, banks are currently most likely to be creating mobile banking apps for the iPhone, despite the fact that Android phones are outselling the Apple device. It’s clear that the difficulty that banks face in choosing where to invest their time and energy to develop different mobile banking applications is one of the biggest barriers to mobile banking roll out.

Faced with uncertainty about which will be the most profitable operating system or have the greatest impact on customer services and loyalty, many banks are sitting on the fence to see what route their competitors will take. Others are enlisting the support of third party software providers to take the pain out of platform compatibility. This is understandable when you consider the fact that within those three operating systems, there are more than a hundred different devices that could have specific needs.

It’s also worth banks getting a better understanding of which platform is winning in the popularity stakes and profiling those users with the greatest propensity to use their smartphone for mobile banking. A recent YouGov survey found that although 28 per cent of smartphone users own an Android phone versus 26 per cent using an iPhone, iPhone users are still a target market for financial institutions rolling out mobile banking because they are more likely to spend a lot of time on their device. iPhone users are also the most likely of iPhone, Android and BlackBerry users to use apps. According to the consumer poll of Britons, nearly a quarter of BlackBerry users don’t use apps at all.

All of these factors must be taken into consideration as banks embark on their mobile strategy. However, a wait-and-see approach to mobile banking will not serve the industry well. Mobile banking is the foundation for many other mobile financial services that will deliver future revenue opportunities for banks. Those that develop a reputation for mobile services now will certainly be in a strong position to capitalise on the future growth of mobile payments and mobile bill pay functionality.

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