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Ally Bank expands mobile offerings to iPad

Further expanding its suite of mobile services for customers, Ally Bank, the direct banking subsidiary of Ally Financial Inc., has launched a mobile app designed specifically for the iPad tablet in response to findings that nearly one-third of its customers are using mobile devices for their banking needs.

Designed to deliver an exceptional experience for consumers, who increasingly are shifting their device preferences toward tablets, the app offers the same secure banking experience and all the functionality of Ally Mobile Banking for smartphones. Ally’s iPad app also introduces new features such as the ability to research products, view rates and open a new account from the app.

“On the whole banks have been relatively slow to meet consumer demand for mobile banking services, with initial forays focused on replicating basic banking tasks, such as checking balance, transactions and in limited instances the ability to transfer money and pay bills,” said Nitesh Patel,  director of wireless media strategies, Strategy Analytics.

“Beyond enabling users to perform basic tasks we’ve yet to see banks really use the mobile app for offering financial products such as loans or insurance, and I see that as the next phase in development.”

Lead by design
Recognizing that there are clear distinctions between smartphone and tablet users including the time of day and locations where consumers use their smartphones and tablets, Ally Bank launched the iPad app for added convenience.

Customers will now have access to a new activity calendar that highlights key scheduled transactions on a monthly view.  They will also be able to easily track CD interest accrued through the new CD growth chart.

The simple, intuitive design was first introduced with Ally’s iPhone mobile banking app and provides a sneak preview of what customers will experience with the redesign of Ally’s website scheduled to launch later this year.

The simplified account dashboard highlights key balance information at login, and the new design optimizes interactions expected of a tablet app, such as drop down menus, tap-friendly links and animated interactions.

Future tablet implications
According to major research firms that track sales of computer and digital devices, tablet sales are expected to overtake PC sales in the near future, with one third of the total U.S. population using tablets by 2015.

Mobile banking continues to grow in popularity, as consumers adapt to the effective and efficient convenience of conducting many of their banking transactions without ever having to set foot in a bank branch.

Ensuring security while maintaining the customer experience is critical to the banking industry as it attempts to improve profitability and efficiency by using digital products. The fragmentation of smartphone platforms in the market between Android, iOS, Windows Mobile, etc. means banks need to create multiple version of their apps to address their entire customer base.

“It’s not really ideal to market a mobile banking app or product to just 30 percent of your customers,” Mr. Patel said. “The phone is there in your pocket 24-7 so it’s basically an interface to your bank at users’ fingertips and provides great convenience to bank customers that are already using online banking services.”

 Final Take
Michelle is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York