Mobile banking is a fundamental part of digital banking in 2021. It’s ubiquitous among top-tier megabanks, innovative fintechs and user-focused banks and credit unions. The mobile laggards and late adopters are being passed over by an increasingly tech-savvy consumer base. According to a Statista report, over 75% of Americans used a mobile device the last time they checked their account balance.
Banks and credit unions, in turn, are “reimagining their offerings to meet continuously evolving consumer expectations,” says Susan Foulds, managing director of the Keynova Group, a leading competitive intelligence source for digital financial services. “We’re seeing more banks shifting toward mobile designs that create a seamless, simplified user journey — without sacrificing a wide selection of digital banking services. This highlights the vast capabilities many of the largest banks offer compared to challengers, despite the viewpoint that traditional banks’ apps are falling behind.”
Said another way, some banks and credit unions are upgrading their digital offerings by partnering with strategic trusted partners to augment their physical branch networks. Competition is fierce among financial institutions to claim shares of the mobile digital landscape — so fierce stand-alone fintech companies like SoFi and mega-cap companies such as Amazon are encroaching on territory once reserved exclusively for brick-and-mortar banks and credit unions.
The Evolution of Mobile Banking Over the Last Decade
Before 2010, the majority of mobile banking was conducted via text or SMS. It was known as SMS banking, and it was predominantly done by European banks using Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) Support. It wasn’t until the proliferation of iOS (iPhones) and Android operating systems around 2010 that mobile-banking applications (apps) began to evolve meaningfully around end users’ needs.
The main types of services available during the first decade of mobile banking were:
- Account information: view balances, request statements, search recent transaction histories and loan balances.
- Transactions: transfer funds to accounts at the same institution, pay third parties (bill payments) and make purchases in collaboration with other applications or prepaid service providers.
- Investments: manage portfolios or get a real-time view of them (term deposits, etc.).
- Support services: check on the status of requests for loan or credit facilities, follow up on card requests and locate ATMs.
- Content and news: receive news related to finance and the latest offers by the bank or institution.
Pandemic Acceleration of Mobile Banking
The COVID-19 pandemic pushed the demand for contactless, branchless transactions. According to a report by ResearchandMarkets.com:
- In April 2020, over 70% of consumers at the four largest U.S. banks used mobile-banking apps, which was a 63% increase from April 2019.
- Mobile banking will be a $1.82 billion market by 2025, with a growth rate of 12.2% per year.
- Ninety percent of banking-app users want to view their account balance, 79% want to view recent transactions and 59% say they use mobile-banking apps to pay bills.
For a bank, developing a mobile banking app that delights consumers and provides a real competitive advantage involves a sustained investment. But when consumer demand and expectations for a quality mobile-banking service are continually increasing, delivering what users require is going to become the key determinant of future bank performance.
Top 2021 Mobile-Banking Trends
Users don’t want to create — nor remember — one more password or PIN. In a world where faces can open locked phones, those same users want to open their bank or credit union’s app and have it immediately recognize them in the same way. In August 2021, FICO found that 61% of people in the United States would be happy if their banking provider started capturing their biometric information, with over half of those saying they would just like to know why their financial institution is gathering that information.
Payment apps like Apple Pay are setting the precedent — and taking market share in the process. According to eMarketer, 43.9 million U.S. users use Apple Pay. “Many consumers tried mobile wallets at point-of-sale for the first time last year to avoid using paper currency and credit and debit cards,” said eMarketer forecasting analyst Oscar Orozco at Insider Intelligence. “The largest amounts of new users were Gen Z and millennials. We project that there will be around 6.5 million new mobile wallet users per year from 2021 to 2025, of which more than 4 million will be Gen Zers. Millennials will continue accounting for around four in 10 mobile wallet users, although that share will shrink.” With one touch (and without typing a single password), users can get access to the cards in their digital wallet and make purchases without ever pulling out a piece of plastic.
End users are largely immune to personalized messages created by internal mailing lists. Savvy bank and credit-union users want personalized products. This includes your mobile-banking app. Personalized mobile banking should have the ability to differentiate products depending on your user’s profile and offer the solutions in real time. Using AI, your bank or credit union can offer users precisely what they need, fortifying their loyalty and enhancing your financial institution’s brand.
As more and more data flows to the cloud, so does the fraud fear factor grow. Before the pandemic, security concerns slowed down digital adoption — especially, historically, among older consumers. The pandemic forced many users to overcome or ignore these concerns. Between 30% and 40% of mobile-banking users are “very concerned” about fraudulent activities related to mobile banking. Bulletproof-level cybersecurity and predictive modeling to protect user data are no longer the exceptions — they’re the rule.
Most Desired Mobile-Banking Solutions in 2022 and Beyond
AI can increase the efficiency and productivity of your financial institution. It can reduce labor costs by optimizing capital-investment decisions and reducing forecasting risk. For example, you might use AI analytics when deciding home-loan applications based on available historical data to enhance the loans’ long-term viability. AI can also decrease reputational and regulatory risk by ensuring that data is entered into the system accurately and consistently across all channels.
Further, there are over 30 federal laws and regulations that affect the banking industry. AI can help mitigate compliance errors compared to humans completing reports manually. It can also analyze huge amounts of data and identify suspicious transactions.
Migration to the Cloud
Banking is a cyclical business, observes Todd Clark, CEO of CO-OP Financial Services. Having technology and transactions handled in the cloud allows institutions — and their technology providers — to do two things more effectively. One: Easily deploy software, which enables both vendors and institutions to operate in an agile environment. Two: Scale up as needed. “It really is almost as simple as turning a dial to do this,” Clark states. “And that is a huge advantage.”
Quantum technologies have the potential to complete complex calculations which currently take days to do orders of magnitude more quickly. Quantum computers will be able to make calculations that traditional computers are fundamentally unable to do. Once commercialized, they would mark a leap forward in computing capability far greater than that from the abacus to a modern computer.
According to BBVA, the advancement is thanks to the use of qubits, as opposed to the bits in traditional computing. “Qubits exponentially increase the computing capacity compared to classical computing. If the bits can perform calculations based on two possibilities (1 and 0), qubits can run calculations on all the possible combinations between 1 and 0 in parallel,” says the bank. Quantum technology could have profound effects on the financial industry through modeling financial data and isolating key risk factors to make better decisions as well as making cloud computing much more secure by using the laws of quantum physics to enhance private data safely.
Mobile Banking for the New Decade
Look at any list of digital banking trends and you’ll find mobile banking at the top. It evolved from text banking in the early 2000s to a multifaceted and must-have digital tool that the majority of users depend on daily. Your bank or credit union can significantly help your users by establishing partnerships with a solid mobile-banking solution provider to leverage their specific skill sets in this highly specialized and growing field. By combining cutting-edge, proven technology with the long-built and considerable trust that your users already have in you, it not only deepens their loyalty with you but helps avert losing them to fast-moving, well-funded fintech upstart competitors.
Marty Aquino has been a passionate writer on venture capital, technology, forecasting, risk mitigation, wealth and entrepreneurial topics since 2009. He is the founder of Carbonwolf Energy, a venture-capital firm specializing in world-changing and status-quo-defying technologies and people.
CFI – What is Mobile Banking?
ResearchandMarkets.com – Mobile Banking Apps In The USA: Researched Insights Into Customer Experience Drivers
The Financial Brand – What Consumers Actually Want From Their Bank’s Mobile App
American Bankers Association – Acts & Regulations
CO-OP Financial Services – Co-op Solutions
ComputerWeekly.com – BBVA explores quantum computing for banking