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70pc of consumers want mobile banking app to avoid financial problems: study

In Varolii Corporation’s “Can you Bank on your Banking App?” study, the company takes a look at the gap between what consumers are asking for from their mobile banking and how financial institutions are delivering on their needs. The report outlines specific use cases when consumers want to be notified from their bank about their accounts.

“It’s clear that consumers want proactive push notifications from their app,” said Brian Moore, financial services market manager at Varolii, Seattle.

“Enabling a mobile banking application with push notifications paves the way for communications of all types, including marketing, without the regulatory risks that come with SMS campaigns,” he said.
“As with all direct marketing, care must be taken to make contextually appropriate offers, as well as to honor customer’s opt outs. That said, the customer’s interest in various offers can be pre-qualified  as they enroll in mobile banking, increasing the likelihood they will pursue opportunities presented to them through the application.”

High expectations
The survey collected results from 627 participants and was conducted by Wakefield Research in Dec. 2012.

Forty-four percent of consumers surveyed said that they used a banking app. Eight percent of participants had downloaded an app but not used it.

The remaining 48 percent of consumers had never downloaded a mobile banking app.

Per the study, consumers want to be able to conduct sophisticated features such as depositing check and receive real-time notifications from banking apps.

The report chalks part of the problem with mobile banking apps to marketers being app-happy and rolling out numerous apps without a clear understanding of what consumers are looking for.

According to the report, 55 percent of consumers use their mobile banking app more now than when they first downloaded it. Forty-five percent of participants said that they used the app either the same amount or less than when it was first downloaded.

Additionally, the survey asked consumers aged 18 – 34 years old if they have considered deleting their mobile banking apps. Forty-six percent of respondents agreed that they had considered deleting an app and 54 percent said that they had not considered deleting an app.

This points to the need for marketers to continually update their apps to drive repeat usage.

Instant updates
One of the biggest selling points of apps for financial services and banks is real-time notifications that aim to keep consumers regularly updated about their accounts.

The study found that two-thirds of consumers expect to be notified immediately when either their account balance is low or there are insufficient funds.

Seventy percent of consumers surveyed said that a banking app could have helped them avoid a financial problem if features such as push notifications were used.

Forty-five percent of consumers in the study said that they had received balance updates from their banking app. Thirty-two percent of consumers received a notice when their accounts were low and 31 percent got a reminder when a bill was due.

In particular, younger demographics believe that a bank is responsible for reaching out to its clients when there is a problem with their account.

For example, 73 percent of consumers aged 18-24 years old said that they should receive alerts from their banks. Fifty-six percent of consumers aged over 50 years old said the same.

When it comes to how consumers want to receive alerts from their bank, 13 percent of users picked a mobile app while 22 percent said that they preferred SMS. Forty-seven percent of participants surveyed said that they wanted to receive notifications via email.

As mobile adoption continues to grow, marketers will need to load their mobile banking services with more sophisticated features, per Mr. Moore.

“Consumer awareness is building around convenient, highly desirable features like remote deposit capture, person-to-person payments, two-way security protection and proactive account alerts, so adoption is likely to accelerate – but only for banks that are adding these features and more to stay competitive,” Mr. Moore said.

“Non-banks are emerging with sophisticated tools for financial management that will cause some consumers to question whether they need a bank at all,” he said.

“So banks need to build awareness of their strengths – FDIC insurance, data security, wide availability of branches, etc. – while constantly improving and expanding the ways customers can do business with them.”

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York