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The Mobile Banking Features Consumers Want (But Don’t Have)

According to the Federal Reserve's 2016 consumer survey, 43% of mobile phone owners (with a bank account) were mobile banking users, practically double the percentage that the Fed found in its 2012 survey. Javelin Strategy has projected that 81% of US adults will use mobile banking by 2020, but they made that forecast back in 2015, so I'm not sure if they're sticking with that number or not.

Whatever the number, I've yet to meet a bank or credit union exec whose strategic planning efforts aren't focused on improving their digital (and for all practical purposes, mobile) delivery capabilities. But when I ask what that means, and what they're going actually going to do, I don't get a lot of definitive answers.

At the risk of oversimplification, there are two paths here: 1) Broad strategic initiatives, or what a buddy of mine likes to call "moonshots," or 2) Tactical, feature-focused enhancements to existing mobile banking capabilities.

The Most Important Mobile Banking Features That Users Have

A recent survey from S&P Global Market Intelligence might help bank and credit union execs with the second path. S&P asked mobile banking users which mobile banking features were most important to them

It's no surprise that reviewing transactions and transferring funds were at the top of the list, with tapping to call customer service and scheduling branch appointments at the bottom. It did surprise me, however, to see that paying bills was cited by more than half of respondents. Who pays their bills online (i.e., not mobile) at their bank site? Predominantly older consumers. Younger consumers predominantly pay their bills directly on biller sites. This data suggests that bank bill pay might not be dead (or dying) as some pundits (uh, like me) have postulated.

The Most Important Mobile Banking Features That Users Don't Have

Maybe you're not surprised by the data. After all, there are other studies that show what mobile banking features consumers use. But I haven't seen many studies that ask consumers what mobile banking features they'd like to have but don't currently get. S&P asked them.

The results to this question are a bit trickier to analyze. Only 7% said "access account statements" was something they'd like to use. The percentage is low, however, because so few financial institutions don't offer it, not because so few people are interested in it. The results do point to the importance of security and protection--i.e., turning card on/off, reporting lost card, fingerprint and other biometric login, etc.

The results of the S&P study should give banks and credit unions a bit more data to help them guide their digital banking efforts over the next 12 to 24 months.

Ron Shevlin
Director of Research
Cornerstone Advisors

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