Go to any mall, beach or grocery store. In fact, go anywhere in America where people tend to flock. Chances are you'll see a bundle of people using smartphones and tablets. Mobile devices have become part of the everyday landscape, and banks and financial institutions aren't oblivious to that fact.
According to Mark Warshawsky, a mobile solutions executive at one of the nation's major financial institutions, it's easy to see how fast the mobile lifestyle is being adopted by consumers.‡
"Mobile is just a big part of people's lives now, and financial services is no different in that," Warshawsky told Bank Systems & Technology. "But we have to make sure that people can find you in mobile and work to bring new users to the channel. Once they're there, we see they start doing more and more with their mobile banking. It's convenient; it helps them get things done."
Mobile banking apps are now being used by 32 percent of American bank customers ‡ compared to 21 percent in 2011, according to Droid Report.
What got the mobile banking ball rolling
The popularity of mobile banking surged after the invention of remote check deposit, the first unique capability of a banking application, according to Bank Systems & Technology. Before that, mobile banking apps were just extensions of a financial institution's website, allowing consumers to do things such as check balances, transfer money into different accounts and pay bills. Remote deposits is attractive to many consumers and small business owners because it allows them to skip long lines at the bank. Instead of waiting to deposit a check at a local branch, remote deposit permits users take a picture of a check and put it straight into their account from the comfort of their home.
New trends and advancements are on the way, according to Bank Systems & Technology, which expects one new technology - image banking ‡ - to make a big splash. Image banking is a form of photo bill pay.
While there are very few banks or financial institutions that have made photo bill pay available, many industry experts anticipate the adoption will be faster than mobile check deposit, according to Bank Systems & Technology.
"Mobility has been a dominant theme in many discussions with many banks across the region, regardless of the business line or customer segment," Thomas Zink, researcher at IDC Financial Insights, told Droid Report.
Zink expects many financial institutions to adopt image banking in the near future.
"It is important to take note that today, there are several mobile pioneers in the region," Zink said. "One recurring theme is the convergence of mobility and big data. We believe that this combination will revolutionize the way banks interact with their clients."
Other advancements to mobile banking
For Warshawsky, developing new banking capabilities is a never-ending process. He said there are three particular items currently taking up the majority of his design time.
"One, we want to make the user experience easier and make it simple to navigate," he said. "The second is introducing new capabilities. We want our customers to be able to do everything that they can do in the branch, the call center and online in the mobile channel as well. And the third is transitioning to a seamless experience in between the channels with our customer service."
Another item that will gain the attention of many designers is peer-to-peer payments ‡ (P2P), according to Bank Systems & Technology. P2P payments totaled $12.8 billion in 2012. That figure is expected to skyrocket to $90 billion in 2017.