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Phablet usage for mobile banking set to grow by 100pc: report

As mobile screen sizes continue to proliferate and consumers conduct more financial activities on these devices, phablets are becoming popular for banking, with use expected to grow by more than 100 percent, according to a new report from Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting Group.

More than 55 percent of United States consumers claim that mobile banking is a regular part of their lifestyle, which opens wider opportunities for banks and financial marketers seeking to bolster their mobile strategies and reach customers with streamlined methods of conducting transactions. The ability to engage in mobile banking while on-the-go and rely on a larger screen to view important financial amounts is fuelling consumers to turn to phablets – mobile devices that combine the forms of tablets and smartphones.

“We see three key findings coming from our research,” said Byl Cameron, digital practice lead at Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting Group, Charlotte, NC. “The first is that pursuing a ‘mobile-first’ strategy is essential to success, but not to the detriment of the browser-based online banking platform that so many users consider a key [art of managing their finances.

“Secondly, we see that it makes sense to assess for new opportunities that may come from the trend of smartphones getting larger.  Greater screen size can make features attractive that may have been undesirable on a smaller smartphone,” he said.

“Finally, we see a clear trend where users expect to use multiple device types to manage their finances online – and that pursuing greater parity of features and functions makes sense for most FIs.  We call this a ‘Digital Omni-Channel.'”

Three-device lifestyle
The study, which was conducted with U.S. consumers online and executives from top 20 financial institutions, reveals that the shift in size of mobile devices is influencing how Americans prefer to do their banking.

It also showed that customers prefer engaging with mobile banking on all of their devices, therefore resulting in what Carlisle & Gallagher deem a three-device lifestyle: consumers using their smartphone, tablet and laptop interchangeably for banking activities.

For viewing account balances, 97 percent of users turned to laptops while 95 percent and 94 percent used tablets and smartphones, respectively. Meanwhile, 92 percent paid bills on their laptops as 81 percent used the same function on their smartphones.

This comes as a warning to financial marketers and banks to make sure that banking is optimized for each platform so that consumers can access the channel of communication best suited to their daily needs.

Consumers were also found to be primarily interested in three specific banking activities on mobile devices: transferring funds, checking balances and paying bills. Banks that do not offer mobile applications for these functionalities are at a severe disadvantage, as customers appreciate the ability to take care of their banking needs while on the go or before making a purchase.

Mobile device growth
Carlisle & Gallagher also believes that general growth in sales of mobile devices will have a significant impact on the mobile banking sector.

All of the consumers surveyed revealed their plans to purchase another mobile device by 2016, with 84 percent aiming to buy a smartphone.

The phablet phenomenon will also be in full force by then, as the consulting group expects the devices will account for 30 percent of mobile device market share by 2020, giving phablets the dominant factor in mobile banking. It projects that tablets will fall out of favor with consumers, as 68 percent of survey respondents said they do not currently use tablets for their banking needs.

Perhaps most tellingly, one in six customers believes that mobile banking features are enough reason to purchase a smartphone with a larger screen.

Phablets will likely allow for checks to be deposited more easily, as the feature is gaining popularity with mobile users. More than 60 percent of consumers with phablets and smartphones prefer to deposit checks remotely.

Experts believe that 2015 will see more banks employ mobile imaging functionalities into their apps to entice consumers interested in the “snap and go” technology that enables them to take a photo of a check and deposit the amount automatically into their accounts (see story).

“The top five U.S. banks are doing a great job offering a rich feature-set across the online and mobile space,” Mr. Cameron said. “We are especially impressed with some interesting trends towards the use of biometrics.

“Apple leveraging thumbprint recognition as part of Apple Pay is a good example. In addition, USAA recently announced that voice and facial recognition features will be available with their mobile app.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York