The Mobile Conundrum – Feature-rich or Plain and Simple?

If it wasn’t clear before the beginning of 2020, then it’s become apparent during the pandemic, mobile is the ascendent channel through which consumers conduct their day-to-day banking.

For a long time, we’ve watched the penetration and usage of Internet Banking (IB) rise to the point where 91% of respondents in RFi’s Global Digital Banking Survey of 13,000 banked consumers access the channel. However, when it comes to growth and frequency of usage, it is mobile that wins. 52% of consumers use mobile banking weekly and a further 25% are using it daily, compared to 49% and 21% usage of Internet Banking (IB). For the occasional user, IB is the channel of choice, however, for a heavier user, it is mobile that is most important.

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Source: RFi’s Global Digital Banking Survey 21H1

When it comes to preference, mobile banking is the top choice. On a global basis, 41% of consumers state that their most preferred channel for banking is a mobile device, compared to 33% for desktop banking and way ahead of branch in third place with 9% of the vote. 

Furthermore, over the last two years, mobile is the only channel that has grown in preference. Conclusion? It’s important.

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 Source: RFi’s Global Digital Banking Survey 21H1

With so many customers using mobile banking apps frequently and mobile becoming the most preferred channel, it stands to reason that the correlation between mobile banking experience and overall customer experience is rising. 

Banks facing this new uprise are now asking questions such as:

How can we deliver the optimal mobile banking experience to customers?

Where do app features fit into the equation? 

Should you prioritise several features or the simplicity of design? And if so, where is the balance?

Our data is very revealing in answering these questions. Analysis of the attributes of mobile banking exposes the following; on a global basis, the top three attributes of mobile banking most correlated with app satisfaction are:

  • Ease of use
  • Reliability
  • Ease of login 

The conclusion here is that banks should prioritise the basics. Make sure it works, make sure I can log in and make sure I can easily do what I need to do.

Sounds simple, doesn't it? However, when you look at what might be causing friction for customers, there are two principle pain points:

  • Range of tasks 
  • Access to information

It is these factors that neatly sum up what I refer to as “the mobile conundrum”. How do you deliver the right amount of in-app features and information without overcomplicating the user experience? 

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Source: RFi’s Global Digital Banking Survey 21H1

We had a look at the Australian market in more detail to see what we could find. We started by cataloguing all the features that were available through mobile banking apps in the market and we came up with a list of 42 features across the following categories:

  • Account management
  • Travel
  • Payments
  • Savings
  • Security
  • Support
  • Other

We recorded how many features each banking app had and then overlaid it with customer NPS taken from our XPRT survey of 63,000 consumers conducted each year. The top 12 banks had between 32 and 15 features available within their apps, with an average of 23, while NPS rankings ranged from +59 to +16. What we found was that there was very little correlation between the number of features available and the NPS score – i.e. more features does not necessarily equate to higher NPS.

If we think about this in terms of how many NPS points a single feature is ‘buying’, then on average the answer is 1.8, but again there is a large variance, with the best buying 2.7 and the worst buying just 0.6 points. 

This is interesting in and of itself because it suggests that the addition of a feature in mobile apps should in no way be seen as a means to increasing app NPS to a huge degree. 

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Source: RFi’s Global Digital Banking Survey 21H1

The good news is that some patterns are emerging in the data. One of which relates to national banks. Essentially, if you isolate the four banks in our analysis that have a truly national customer base, then the more features they offer, the higher their NPS score. 

There is logic in this. Major banking organisations have a much more diverse customer base, with use dependant on the level of their sophistication. Banks such as this are therefore unlikely to offer a simple to use plan app and garner a great NPS score. 

On the other hand, if we take the digital-only banks in our rankings (there are three truly digital banks) then there was no pattern at all. The bank with the smallest number of features had by far the highest NPS, while the one with the second largest number of features, had by far the lowest NPS score.

There is no silver bullet to app design, however, I do believe there are some guiding principles that we can draw from all of this? 

  • Get the basics right first - Ease of use, reliability and login should be the no brainers
  • The bigger you are, the more you have to offer - If you are a full-service bank, then you better have a full-service app
  • ‘Digital only’ means ruthless prioritisation – if you are a digital-only bank, then you can be simple, but you most definitely also need to have the right features on offer 
  • Adding more features is not the swift answer to achieving a higher NPS – the average additional feature will ‘buy’ 1.8 NPS points, it will not move you to the top of the rankings on its own 

All of which is to say that the ‘mobile conundrum’ is real and the balance for banks will depend a little on who they are and a lot on how they do it.

Want to find out more about mobile banking? Register to attend our upcoming webinar "Satisfying the Banking APPetite", in the mean time you can also watch my take in my latest In-depth Insights with Al here.

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