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Financial Services moving to mobile first – surely you can’t be serious

By · 03 February, 2014

I recently talked about ‘mobile’s disruption of commerce’ at Masterclassing, part of Mobile Marketing’s events in London, which focused on mobile in the financial services space. Major banks, Investment companies and insurance folks attended. Other speakers included app development companies, full scale marketing agencies and senior banking figures.  BPKH7G4U3YFV

Born to move around

So what did I take away:-

Firstly, it is increasingly apparent that mobile is THE prime channel particularly in the UK.  According to the Internet Advertising Bureau, smartphone penetration rates will hit 75% by the end of 2014, with Tablets hitting 50%. We must offer compelling engagement across this device change. We need to have a strategy in place – Now.

Yet despite these compelling figures, only 25% of businesses have a mobile strategy with financial services being notable for its staggered adoption rates. This is the really interesting thing: the different stages and methods by which the banking sector is slowly acknowledging the inevitability of m-commerce.

Secondly, your mobile strategy has to innovate – you have to reinvent the wheel.

That sounds like a tough call but its critical for success. The market has been democratised. Never before has the consumer been so powerful. Mobile consumers are about as fickle as they come and pretty soon, they’re all going to be mobile. They demand difference, expect customisation and require easy use on the move.  First Direct Bank, a division of HSBC, offers an optimised mobile site and a native app for engaged customers with a critical flaw –reviews indicate that no one listened to what the customer wanted or expected.

Focus groups must extend to real life customers – and lots of them – why limit to 20 or so people being watched behind a 2 way mirror? The market has come a long way, so must your research techniques.

Mobile first is customer first. Let them have their say.

At the polar end of the mobile banking spectrum, Metro Bank, the UK’s ‘first new high street bank in 100 years.’ Sounds amazing – funky waistcoat wearing staff and a limited number of outlets, albeit growing, delivering one huge promise of ‘outstanding customer service 7 days a week.’

Metro Bank opens early and shuts late but they do not provide an optimised mobile channel– Is this the real answer?

If my suggestion of mobile first is customer first, then Metro might be the most disruptive answer to retail banking the UK has ever seen but only if they really get behind mobile and understand that perhaps ‘real’ customer service means no need to enter a branch or call through to a call centre.

Thirdly, a constant theme throughout the Masterclass was that compliance and regulation is slamming the breaks on innovation.

Enter stage right, a senior HSBC figure, the big keynote. Interestingly, although relatively new to the role, the former Googler was asked a direct question, “Is HSBC a mobile first company’ – the answer, ‘yes………almost,’  to which everyone chuckled.

I applauded this answer and found it hugely refreshing to see ‘the world’s local bank’ being powered forward through an overwhelming desire to lead the financial services sector into a truly mobile first approach by introducing cashless ATM withdraw in Brazil, in app tablet trading in Hong Kong and mobile P2P transfers in the UK, all united by a single code base side stepping stagnating regulations.

The next discussion I had with an issuing bank was really insightful, although they will remain nameless. They had no branches and no real presence outside of card issuing, They had recently formed a solid core team to focus on mobile and although clearly wet behind the ears in forming a mobile strategy, their passion for understanding the mobile channel will stand them in good stead. Watch this space and I promise to keep readers updated on their progress.

Outside of banks, I met a ton of insurance companies including Royal Sun Alliance, who do a load of white labelled products for major retailers and are also the leading car and home insurer in the UK.

What I found really interesting was the similarities between takeaway outlets and insurance companies – bear with me 😉

JustEat is a model in the restaurant and takeaway space that has been truly disruptive, thanks to   mobile. I go to the JustEast app or website, tap in my postcode and what cuisine I want . I get back a comprehensive list of suppliers that I can choose to sort in various ways, select my products and complete my purchase.

Insurers do the same thing, only this time through comparison websites. The one thing they all strive for is customer loyalty at renewal.

This is where mobile wins every time – In its simplest form, SMS messaging or in app messaging can keep customers updated with renewal dates but the potential of mobile is huge and all to often sorely neglected. Affiliate offers and alerts are all good but who is leading the race?

Direct Line launched an app called ‘Drive plus’ encouraging car insurance users to potentially gain a discount by showing 200 miles of good driving habits. It’s a good idea, I think….. but who uses it and how do they promote it? Have you ever heard of it?

Mobile needs a strategy and strategy for mobile is tough – there is standard route to success. Mobile is what you make of it for your business. At the Masterclass, everyone agreed that mobile is the prime channel. It’s time to wake up and smell the Starbucks coffee that gets 5 million transactions per week across mobile. Financial Services is due a major disruption. It will happen quicker than you think, with or without your business – get ready!


About Judopay · Judopay simplifies in-app payments, enable frictionless checkouts and intelligently prevents fraud for leading companies globally. Our payments and mobile experts help guide businesses and their development partners to create best in class apps to make paying faster, easier and more secure. Founded by serial financial technology entrepreneurs in 2012, Judopay is backed by leading venture investors and supported by banking and card scheme partners to offer in-app payments that are simple, frictionless and protected.

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