The 4×5-inch screen: a wake-up call for banks

In a recent article, it was cogently argued that banks should re-think their strategy around the branch-on-the-phone. The article was meant to be a wake-up call for banks and outlined how several digital disruptions have already changed the way banking is done in India.

Herewith a few thoughts to supplement and build on some of the points raised in the article, in the context of mobile apps and banking:

User experience will be a competitive advantage

As we see across categories, user experience is proving to be a competitive advantage for brands. And that is not just about design and how an interface looks. It calls for design thinking around the average consumer, focused on how a brand experience can delight him at every touch point, including digital screens. When it comes to mobile apps for banks, it is an even bigger imperative as the app has to help the user complete his task in the most efficient and satisfying manner without access to any human intervention (which is an option in a physical branch). It calls for an experienced and accomplished team who can think through an app design and user experience and make it delightful for the consumer across digital devices – be it a kiosk, computer, mobile phone or a wearable.

Value for money is not equal to poor user experience

Banks should not be under the mistaken impression that only premium consumers care for a premium experience. It should not be assumed that a consumer who has bought a relatively inexpensive smartphone can not demand a mobile experience of an expensive phone. The mobile app has democratized user experience. It is no longer acceptable to provide a sub-optimal user experience as a lowest common denominator. Consumers are used to tasteful design and a premium experience across categories, at affordable price points – be it movies, mobile phones or mobile games & apps. Just as a consumer does not see or care for a well-written strategy document, he does not see how robust a back end. He is only interested in how that translates into a good experience for him.

Aside from the above, CTOs and CIOs need to work closely with marketing & digital teams (who are expected to have a pulse of the consumer needs) to build in features, which make mobile banking useful. For example, apps in local languages or onboarding experiences meant to educate first time users of mobile apps must be thought through.

In all, it is critical that banks embrace mobile technology and work with partners who have the experience and skill sets to deliver a secure, delightful user experience for customers. Or else, prepare to be left behind.

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