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Chase’s mobile banking strategy leads the pack: Forrester

April 30, 2012

Chase's iPhone app

With 17 percent of adults actively banking via mobile devices, financial institutions are meeting basic needs but few offer more advanced functionality, according to a new report from Forrester Research.

In the report, 2012 US Mobile Banking Functionality Rankings, the research shows that Chase is the highest scorer among leading U.S. banks when it comes to mobile banking. Out of a score of 100 on the Mobile Banking Functionality Benchmark, the financial institution had an overall score of 74 compared with the average of 64.

“The strong showing results from a wide array of mobile money movement options – transfer functionality, mobile bill pay, and the ability to add a payee, among others – as well as mobile remote deposit capture and other features,” said Peter Wannemacher, author of the report and a digital banking analyst at Forrester Research Inc., Cambridge, MA.  

Primary touch point
To help bank executives benchmark their mobile efforts, Forrester created the Mobile Banking Functionality Benchmark, which evaluates and ranks the mobile offerings of the four largest retail banks in the U.S.

The report found that Chase scored 90 in the accessibility category and had a score 26 points above the average in the transactional functionality category.

The other banks had lower overall scores:  65 for Citibank, 61 for Bank of America and 53 for Wells Fargo.

Mobile bankers are increasingly active in the mobile channel, including conducting more transactional activities and making mobile their primary touch point. The report found that one in 10 mobile bankers have not visited their bank’s PC-based Web site in the past three months.

Forrester expects continued growth in mobile banking and forecasts there will be more than 50 million mobile bankers in the U.S. by 2015.

With this growth in mind, Forrester found that the areas where banks need improvement include expanded money movement capabilities, cross-selling and improved usability, according to the report.

In terms of mobile touch points, Forrester found that all four of the top U.S. banks over some type of two-way SMS banking but only Chase allows users to initiate transfers or pay bills by sending an SMS text message to the bank.

The banks did better in terms of having a dedicated mobile Web site, with all four earning perfect scores for mobile Web site accessibility.

When it comes to mobile apps, while all four banks offer at least two or three smartphone apps, only Bank of America has native apps for all of the major platforms.

Despite the significant growth in tablets, only Bank of America and Citibank offer robust tablet banking to clients.

Mobile money movement
In terms of the kinds of information banks are making available via mobile, all four banks scored high when it comes to presenting account balances but only Citibank and Bank of America provide users with a transaction history that can be sorted and searched. All four also enable access to at least some information related to loans, credit cards and mortgages.

Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo all received perfect scores for their ATM and branch locator functionality.

Citibank and Chase scored well when it comes to offering clear navigation via mobile.

With moving money via mobile expected to increase in use and value for customers, Forrester found that all four banks scored well when it comes to account transfers and bill pay but their person-to-person payments offerings were lacking. Additionally, only Chase and Citibank offer external account transfers and only Chase allows mobile bankers to add a new payee directly from the mobile channel.

One area that was lacking was access to personal finance management information, with none of the top four banks offering robust mobile PFM features via their iPhone apps.

Banks were also lacking when it comes to enabling cross-channel communications, with none providing mobile chat, IM or secure messaging.

The four banks also scored very low when it comes to providing mobile research and cross-selling features. Additionally, none offered the ability to apply for a product via an iPhone app.

Citibank’s dedicated mobile Web site has an “open an account” page while Bank of America offers an “apply” link on its iPad app that takes users to the main page on its PC-based Web site.

Going forward, Forrester expects banks to expand their money movement capabilities, make personal finance management a bigger priority and put more focus on mobile acquisitions.

“In the near future, banks will differentiate by the mobile capabilities they offer users, including P2P, expedited payments and the ability to manage receipts,” Mr. Wannemacher said.

“Limited money movement – such as internal-only transfers and bill pay that is restricted to pre-existing payees – makes sense for early adopters who are simply shifting from the PC-based secure Web site,” he said. “But today nearly one in 10 mobile bankers have not conducted an online banking activity in the past 90 days.”

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