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Steady mobile banking growth to drive demand for better functionality: Forrester

Mobile banking growth in the United States continues to be fueled by aggressive adoption of smartphones and regular mobile Web use, according to Forrester Research.

The problem with this scenario, as noted in the Forrester report “U.S. Mobile Banking Forecast, 2010 To 2015,” is that consumers are still struggling to figure out exactly how they will use mobile banking.

“Lacking any clear differentiated functionality, mobile banking appeals most strongly to those consumers already inclined to use the mobile channel,” said Emmett Higdon, analyst at Forrester, Cambridge, MA, in a blog post.

“Unfortunately, this segment is dominated by those already using online banking,” he said.

“As a result, banks are not realizing the full benefit of switching customers to cheaper servicing channels, but instead are seeing cannibalization of one low-cost channel—online—by another—mobile.”

To reach one in five U.S. adults, as Forrester predicts mobile banking will do by 2015, U.S. banks will need to enhance today’s functionality significantly to create a unique value proposition that resonates with both online and offline consumers.

This can be achieved in several ways, per Mr. Higdon.

Financial institutions should introduce innovative new features — such as mobile remote deposit capture — not commonly available through other channels.

Banks should optimize existing functionality to offer superior user experiences through the mobile channel. They should ask their customers “Which of these transfer interfaces would you rather use?”

Financial institutions should leverage the unique capabilities of mobile devices and the mobile channel—think visual ATM locators, augmented reality and other location-based services.

“Changes such as these will make the value of banking through the mobile channel readily apparent in a way that generic ‘bank anytime, anwhere’ pitches cannot,” Mr. Higdon said.

“The real ROI from mobile banking will come from engaging the 40 percent of U.S. consumers who today do not bank online,” he said.

“Simply replicating today’s online banking functionality will not get the job done.”

Final Take
Wells Fargo mobile banking