Why Mobile Will Revitalize Online

by: Mark Schwanhausser

When smartphones hit the scene, the reaction in the financial services industry was predictable and practical. Innovative financial institutions rushed to roll out a user experience that mirrored what customers had come to expect from their online channels. In too many cases, though, that led to a lot of squinting and fumbling. Then came the iPad, and the quickest financial institutions responded initially with a “2x” magnification of their iPhone apps that led to over-sized and over-pixalated keys.

This past weekend, though, consumers got three pieces of evidence from USAA, Wells Fargo and SunTrust of how far and fast things are evolving in the opposite direction – and how mobile banking is redefining online banking for the better.

All along, it was clear that the early stop-gap approaches to mobile design weren’t going to cut it for long. Instead, the wiser course was to design mobile banking to suit the strengths of smartphones and tablets – focusing smartphones on always-on, real-time monitoring and management, and tablets on more of a layback type of transaction. And all along, we predicted the result would be a cleaner, simpler, more intuitive user experience that would force financial institutions to recognize that customers would quickly respond by asking, “Why can’t online be as easy as it is on mobile?”

In short, one outcome of rethinking things for smartphones and tablets is it exposes the need to remodel online banking. It’s the banking equivalent of a home remodeling. Once you upgrade the master bath, you recognize the need to upgrade everything around it – the floors and baseboards, then repainting, and suddenly you’re looking at a kitchen remodel, too.

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