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Bank of America pulls ahead of competition in mobile banking: report

While the five largest banks in the United States continue to race forward in mobile banking, including all offering pre-login account balance information, Bank of America has pulled far ahead in product research and cross-selling on mobile, according to a new report from Forrester Research.

The report, 2016 U.S. Mobile Banking Functionality Benchmark, found that both Bank of America and Wells Fargo stand out in mobile banking with strong features for research and customer acquisition. In comparison, a year ago no large bank led in Forrester’s mobile banking assessment.

“Many U.S. digital banking teams have made great strides in the past year, rolling out improved mobile marketing and product research tools on their mobile apps,” said Rachel Roizen, an analyst at Forrester Research, in the report. “But they still have work to do to make selling contextual and to add or improve features like comparison tools and calculators.

“In addition, U.S. banks should focus on integrating money management within apps to help customers make better financial decisions,” she said.

For the report, Forrester Research reviewed the mobile banking offerings of Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase, U.S. Bank and Citi during February and March of this year.

Accessing account information
Pre-login content and features is one area in which all five banks have significantly improved in the past year. All now offer the ability to see account balances prior to logging in, biometric login and pre-login features such as finding a branch and setting up an appointment.

However, Bank of America received the highest overall score – earning 78 out of a possible 100 – by providing features on a range of touch points, offering preapproved offers and prefilled applications within the mobile app.

Wells Fargo earned the second highest total score – 77 – and received the highest score in the range of touch points available to mobile banking customers and the account information and money management tools presented to them.

Rounding out the top five, Chase earned an overall score of 68, U.S. Bank 63 and Citi 62.

Mobile-first banking
As a growing number of customers become mobile-first or mobile-only, banks need to have a strong mobile feature set. This includes the ability to enroll in mobile banking directly from a smartphone, providing tools for understanding how to use mobile banking and provide easy access to security and privacy content.

Access across multiple touch points is also important. The majority of reviewed banks now support basic features on the Apple Watch and Forrester expects leading banks will start offering services through other emerging touch points such as in-car and smart TVs.

Areas where banks need to improve, per Forrester, include product research, cross-selling, applications and money management tools.

Mobile apps need to be improved with useful mobile customer service features such as the ability to let the bank know when a customer is going to be traveling abroad. Wells Fargo is one of the few banks that offers such a feature in its app.

Mobile apps also need to provide contextual help where and when needed, leverage natural language speech to make it easier to find features content and the ability to set up, receive and manage alerts.

“For digital teams at all banks, success in the future will require piloting new features, testing out new task flows and learning from these experiments,” said Peter Wannemacher, a senior analyst at Forrester Research and co-author of the report.