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Chase leads in mobile banking functionality for third straight year: Forrester

Chase earned the highest score of 69 out of 100 in an evaluation by Forrester Research of the five largest retail banks in the U.S., and was cited for its strong transactional and cross-channel features in mobile.

In its 2014 U.S. Mobile Banking Functionality Benchmark, Forrester Research found high regard for the Chase Mobile app for iPhone, which was redesigned last month (see story) with more streamlined navigation and simplified UX.  The study reported that Chase and U.S. Bank tied for first place overall, with scores of 69 out of 100 respectively, closely trailed by Wells Fargo, 68 Bank of America, 66; and Citi, 64.

“Mobile is moving very fast and expectations continue to rise,” said Peter Wannemacher, analyst at Forrester Research, Cambridge, MA.

“A key trend is mobile bankers moving from very basic activities like viewing an account balance to a wider range of transactional features like depositing checks, adding bill payees, sending money to friends and family, searching for past payments, and more.”

“As more mobile banking features, content, and functionality become important to customers it will be necessary for developers and marketers to strategize across mobile touchpoints such as mobile websites, downloadable apps, tablet apps among others,” he said.

Slight improvements
The report used proprietary methodologies to evaluate and rank mobile banking endeavors amongst the five largest U.S. retail banking institutions across more than 35 categories and criteria.

Based on 37 individual criteria, measurements were drawn from categories such as transactional functionality, service features, enrollment and login, and marketing and sales.

Each bank studied placed within a grade bracket of meeting or exceeding expectations, with all showing slight improvement from the year prior.

Improving service features
Major banks continue to compete and cater to users on handhelds in response to data that half of all U.S. smartphone users engage in mobile banking activities.

While not much progress has differed, Forrester cited that the group performs well in providing account information and transaction options in cross-channel efforts spanning from native apps to mobile Web.

However improvement stands open ended in offering self-service features, money management tools and cross-selling of other products. For example, most banking customers are not able to report fraud cases or dispute transactions in question through mobile. Budgeting tools also remain nonexistent.

In comparison, smaller institutions such as BBV Compass, PNC and USAA already offer variations of the aforementioned money management features.

Banks were commended for their strides in app enrollment and login.

Bank of America allows customers to enroll in online and mobile banking directly from its app without having to initiate opt in from a PC. Citi’s highly anticipated Mobile Snapshot will enable app users to see balances and recent transaction without logging in (see story).

However, while banks push to dole out greater convenience features, they bring in to question the limits of security. A Federal Reserve report released on the topic earlier this year revealed that seven in 10 consumers who do not engage in mobile banking cited security as the main reason.

Meanwhile, the big five are also facing competition not only from smaller institutions making mobile innovations, but from ‘potential disruptors’ as well such as  personal apps Budgt and MoneyWiz and soon tech giants such as Google, Apple and Amazon whom all are dabbling in mobile wallets and payment services.

A recent study by Accenture found that younger consumers would be more willing to bank with major tech players if they provided banking options. Among the surveyed 18-34 year olds, 40 percent would consider banking with Google and 34 percent with Apple.

The Forrester report deducted points for all five major banks in terms of lacking consumer acquisition via mobile, and called marketing and sales ‘almost nonexistent’ with the exception of U.S. Bank, which advertises loans and credit options within the transfers tab of its app.

While none of the banks allow users to apply for products in app, the ability to do so seems hindering, being the focus of a streamlined service on mobile would be negated with banners and interstitials. For now, banks should continue to focus on UX instead of berating users with loan or credit offers when they simply want to check their balance.

“I think some features will move quickly from innovations to ‘table stakes’. This will include mobile photo bill pay, Facebook contacts as P2P recipients, and in the longer-term mobile wallets,” Mr. Wannemacher said.

“In addition, we believe the long-term future of digital banking  is one in which personal financial management is at the center of digital banking, embedded in customers’ everyday interactions with bank brands.”

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