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How banks will continue to innovate in mobile next yearBy Chantal Tode
Banks, both large and small, now offer applications, SMS and other mobile services. However, as users get more comfortable using their devices, financial institutions must keeping looking forward and incorporating new technologies if they want to keep customers satisfied.
Smartphone adoption continues to grow and recent research from ForeSee shows that the customer experience provided by financial institutions on mobile can translate to real bottom-line results. This means banks need to be measuring the mobile customer experience and looking for ways to improve it.
“Banks understand that they need to service their mobile consumers,” said Gary Schwartz, author of “The Impulse Economy” and “Fast Shopper, Slow Store.”
“Many have established ‘VP Innovation’ roles that try and champion mobile payment solutions horizontally across the enterprise,” he said. “The bank’s primary concern is that its value and revenues will be canabalized by OTT services.”
One mobile banking feature that is likely to play a bigger role next year is mobile payments. Other sectors have been aggressively moving into mobile payments and financial services firms know they need to act soon or they risk missing their opportunity to play a role in how consumers use mobile to pay for transactions – potentially a very valuable service.
Already, there were a few signs in 2012 that banks are moving in this direction.
Bank of America is approaching mobile payments from two directions.
In one example, it is testing a mobile payments solution enabling users to pay for in-store purchases by scanning a QR code at the cash register using their phones. The program is being tested by the bank’s employees in Charlotte, NC.
In another example, Bank of America is throwing its hats into the increasingly crowded ring for mobile point-of-sale services for small businesses. Mobile Pay on Demand from Bank of America Merchant Services includes an attachment for a smartphone or iPad enabling users to process credit card transactions.
The platform will also provide small businesses with a way to create and send deals and offers.
Bank of America also previously tested NFC payments.
Other banks are moving into payments, too. Recently, Boston-based First Trade Union Bank began offering a mobile payment app built on LevelUp’s platform, giving customers access to LevelUp merchants to make payments.
Another way banks are looking to innovate in mobile is by adopting new technologies such as augmented reality, location-based services and geotargeted offers to further enhance the experience.
Earlier this year, U.S. Bank began piloting an augmented reality app that enables users to easily find and access information about the closest U.S. Bank branch or ATM. The financial institution is using the app to experiment with augmented reality and location-based services as it looks to lay the groundwork to introduce customized offers and other geotargeted experiences going forward.
There has already been some movement toward remote despite capture, enabling users to deposit checks using a mobile device and this offering is likely to roll out to additional banks next year.
Additionally, banks will start looking for other ways to leverage the camera technology in mobile devices for services such as the ability for a bank customer to add a new payee and pay a bill by simply snapping a photo of a bill.
U.S. Bank is currently working on a mobile bill pay service leveraging users’ smartphone cameras with technology from Mitek. The new service is expected to be introduced early next year.
Another area where there is likely to be some innovation next year is in tying mobile to a bank’s broader marketing program. There have already been examples of mobile apps being featured in TV ads but the examples of more integrated programs are likely to proliferate next year.
For example, in the Every Second Counts campaign, Capital One is donating talk time via a mobile phone to members of the military every time users login to its mobile banking app. The campaign has a goal of donating six million minutes to the nonprofit Cell Phones for Soldiers during the holiday season.
“While your local bank is unlikely to disappear, new native mobile service offerings are challenging its role,” Mr. Schwartz said.
“Beyond launching mobile ATM apps, banks will need to provide mobile services such as prepaid, P2P transfer and digital cash in order to capture new revenue streams and meet its consumers’ needs,” he said.
“Digital data allows for smarter relationships with the consumer – banking that goes beyond deposits and bill payments.”
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York
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