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Banking is boring. We all know this as one of life’s truisms. It is also an activity you usually squeeze in at lunch time with a visit to a branch, or more recently conducted surreptitiously at work on your PC.

Now the arrival of the iPad has helped move banking transactions from a work based and PC-centric activity, to a “bank on the go” and now, more recently, “a branch on the go”, experience.

This is good news for banking and banks generally.

In what for most people has at best been a neutral experience and often less than that, the arrival of the tablet has revived some of the missing components of a pleasant banking experience.

As with other sectors, the more successful banks have focussed on three key areas:

  1. Delivering excellent design and usability.
  2. Tailoring the customer experience.
  3. Incorporating the personal touch of the branch.

We have reflected on these core areas and considered relevant examples of players fulfilling these criteria.

Example 1: Excellent design and usability by Jyske Bank

The Danish bank Jyske was our stand out example in a recent best practice study we conducted.

The Bank homepage display borrows from Apple’s iBooks bookshelf design with each icon resembling a bank account feature (e.g. accounts, transfer money, pay a bill and sharedealing).

When swiping to the right the full widget layout becomes visible.  By tapping the bank logo at the bottom right, users are directed to the desktop site which is built using responsive design

The app allows customers to create different individual user profiles, select a personal image and choose whether the app should remember the user name or not.

As part of the customer log in the security wheel spins (see below middle), simulating the experience felt when entering a secure vault, which is a nice touch. 

The balancing act for all banks is to take the bank experience and make it as customer friendly as possible, without compromising security, or the perception of security. In many cases this leads to cumbersome and confusing offerings. Here at Mapa Research have seen plenty of these.

Refreshingly, Jyske has started with the best tablet features on offer, filtered online banking through these and come out with something that looks like it was made for an iPad, rather than something shoe-horned onto it.

The result is in an intuitive, well laid out and visually pleasant banking experience, which in our view provides the best experience possible. 

Example 2: Tailoring the customer experience - Citibank

For a number of years now Citibank has led the way in tablet design generally, and around tailoring the customer experience specifically. The bank’s deployment of Personal Financial Management tools (PFM) on the iPad is recognised by competitors as the benchmark to beat.

Even though the PFM feature is an outstanding example of tailoring the customer experience, we think there is an even better example of ultimate personalisation: an image of a cashed cheque embedded in the online bank statement. 

Whilst this may raise eyebrows amongst those who think cheques are obsolete, American consumers are still very cheque oriented as a society.

A number of US banks have, as a result, developed camera based cheque capture tools to facilitate paying in cheques – a good example of how banks are combining device features and customer benefits.

Some interesting market statistics relating to this Citi example are as follows:

  • During the first six weeks after the Citi iPad app's release, the number of downloads was more than five times that of the number of Citi iPhone app downloads on its release.
  • More than 5,000 Citi customers who had never created online or mobile user IDs signed up for the iPad app, suggesting that the tablet application drew in new non-digital customers. too. 

Example 3: The personal touch of the branch - Jyske Bank

One of the consistent challenges facing banks, in their migration online, has been managing the loss of the personal touch of the branch. Now finally technology is allowing banks to bridge that gap.

Instant messaging and video call communication have been around for some time in financial services. However, adoption has been slow as the limitations of devices and technology have made the experience less than satisfying. 

Tablets have broken this deadlock. Users now have device portability and technological integration in one place. As a result we are now seeing banks dip their toes into bringing the branch experience into the online equation - it is still early days.

The example, again from Jyske Bank, focuses on the first step of contacting your branch manager, using a branch finder in a visually enhanced format.  

The app has brought the iPad experience to the process of contacting a branch, making something that is quite mundane more of a pleasant, visual and immersive experience. For some the iPad is now beginning to act like a “branch on the go”. 

Personalisation gives customers a very clear benefit: it saves time. Jyske Bank provides the ability to define short cuts in its app including saved transactional preferences. It also provides the ability to save specific contacts such as a particularly knowledgeable branch contact.  

Reducing the overall volume of information presented: particularly statutory and regulatory information, provides benefits to customers by reducing frustration when navigating a banking session. The Jyske Bank app strips-out all but the most pertinent information to leave a clean uncluttered banking experience which sets it apart from competitors.

Learning from the best?

I hope that the examples shown give readers, particularly those in banks, the confidence to embrace the opportunities afforded by tablet banking.

As we said, banking doesn’t have to be boring, and by adopting the three key mantras of:

  1. Delivering excellent design  and usability.
  2. Tailoring the customer experience.
  3. Incorporating the personal touch of the branch.

 Banks can go some way to bringing back the good times. Let’s hope more do.


Published 4 April, 2013 by Paul Merry

Paul Merry is Research Director at Mapa Research and a guest blogger on Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus

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