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Mobile banking services can lead to 300pc ROI for banks: Accenture

When banks enable their customers to use a mobile device to check balances, transfer money, pay bills, apply for credit or manage their personal finances, they can achieve returns on investment of as high as 300 percent, the Accenture study found. Banks generating the highest ROI on their mobile banking investments emphasize customer convenience, provide rich exchanges of information between bank and customer and accurately measure how customers use their mobile phones to bank.

“According to the study, financial institutions with successful mobile banking programs fully understand customer’s expectations of mobility, such as their need to have the same experience on their smartphone as they have on their laptop,” said Neil Hickey, North America lead for mobile money management at Accenture, New York.

“They also minimize customer fees, which helps ensure greater customer engagement, and monitor and leverage the evolving functions of customers’ handsets and the platforms they use,” he said. “Finally, they ensure that their staff is fully engaged in supporting mobile banking.”

Case studies
According to the study, financial institutions with successful mobile banking programs monitor and leverage the evolving functions of customers’ handsets and the platforms they use.

Accenture said that a Middle-Eastern financial institution has achieved an ROI of at least 300 percent through customer education by showing its 2 million mobile banking customers how to access and use services.

Additionally, the bank is offering customers new, convenient ways to pay bills online using their mobile devices, including “topping up” their pay-as-you-go mobile phones, paying utility bills, or paying a fixed monthly fee for premium services packages.

An Asia-Pacific bank has achieved an ROI of 230 percent since launching mobile banking in 2007. It is transitioning from informational services – sending text message reminders to customers, for example – to interactive services such as enabling customers to register online for mobile banking.

The bank’s executives said the focus on engaging staff at branches and the call center was critical to success.

A European bank whose customers can check balances, transfer money between accounts and trade stocks with their mobile phones has achieved 60 percent annual growth of its mobile banking customers.

The bank’s executives said support of multiple smartphone device platforms has contributed to success.

A recent study from Berg Insight forecasts that the number of mobile banking users in the United States will grow from 12 million in 2009 to 86 million in 2015, and the European market will grow from 7 million mobile banking users in 2009 to 115 million users in 2015.

“Bank customers want greater control over managing their finances and prefer to bank in ways that fit their lifestyles,” Mr. Hickey said. “Technology is enabling customers to do that, moving beyond simple account notifications sent by text message from their banks to more sophisticated interactive applications, for example.

“The mobile banking market will continue to grow as banks adopt the best practices of those with successful mobile banking programs,” he said.

Benefits to banks
Mobile money management and mobile banking can increase banking penetration to untapped markets at a relatively low acquisition cost.

These services can also lower the cost of financial transfers for banks, because they remove the need for physical points of presence and ensure a timely and secure method of transaction.

Mobile banking services can increase customer retention, especially among customer segments that increasingly expect more sophisticated mobile offerings.

Consumers get the flexibility and mobility that they are increasingly demanding, as well as the potential for increasingly personalized services from their financial institutions.

“Banks look at mobile banking as a low cost channel, but our research shows the best business case comes from making it engaging and interactive and cross selling and upselling new services to an engaged customer,” Mr. Hickey said.

“We see banks that have built solutions incrementally and those that leap frog and become compelling new entrants making successful business cases,” he said. “They are placing the consumer at the heart of a mobile channel and treating it with specific focus.

“New generations of users live on their mobiles and see it as inconceivable they cannot connect with their bank as frequently as calls to their friends, never mind a single balance letter once a month.”