MyPrivateBanking Blog
Daily Comments on the World of Wealth Management

Posts Tagged ‘mobile banking’

“WhatsApp in Wealth Management? –five reasons why private banks should pay attention to messaging apps”

Monday, May 26th, 2014

Early this year WhatsApp has been acquired by Facebook for 19 bn USD - not without reason this acquisition has been well above estimated company value. Signs are good that WhatsApp will grow the current 450 million subscribers to reach 1 billion. The mobile app has been initially a mere alternative to SMS but has grown to become a blend of messenger and social media channel. Other messenger apps like WeChat (a strong contender in Asia) or Skype are also throwing their hat in the ring.

But what can private banks and wealth managers learn from WhatsApp and other messenger apps?

  • Convenience. Clients are using the WhatsApp messenger as it is convenient to follow conversations, send pictures and because they immediately get notice if someone is available. Allowing clients to contact their advisor whenever she is online is a powerful tool. Wealth managers should go and fetch it.
  • It’s not a teenager thing anymore. Social media channels in general enjoyed a reputation of being only for a young audience. This age barrier has vanished and more and more older users are being drawn into using apps, social media and messenger features.
  • WhatsApp is planning a telephone function and will in general broaden its functionality. Besides the possibility to conveniently chat or leave messages to advisor/ client soon a telephone function will be broadly available for the app - making the application more flexible than it is already today.
  • Messaging is not email. The hurdle to write an email is way higher compared to messaging, which combines the benefits of chat functions with the option to leave emails. There is no need for all flowery phrases for every message you write. Its fast, it’s fun, it’s what clients want.
  • Everybody knows it. Some wealth managers provide their own contact functions via app – that’s great and important. But WhatsApp is already known by the customer. Allow clients to stay in their comfort zone without having to learn a new technology. Most likely your relationship managers use it already, too.

Wealth managers and private banks need to think about how to leverage mobile messenger technology for their own business. It can be by using existing popular messengers like WhatsApp for some communication. Another option is the integration of similar messaging features in existing banking apps. And keep in mind: these options are not mutually exclusive.


Banking apps – a missed marketing opportunity

Friday, February 28th, 2014

A quick peek preview into the upcoming MyPrivateBanking ‘Mobile Apps for Banking report’ (April 2014) reveals that above all, the lack of interesting marketing content provided for clients and non-clients is one of the banking apps’ major weaknesses.

The majority of banks show an unsatisfactory integration of additional content in their main banking apps. Only a few manage to offer good content promoting the bank and their products. For further information the user is generally referred to the website, opening in a separate browser, which then often has clumsy navigation or looks crammed in on a mobile device. And that is odd, given the fact that the app is the first and foremost contact point for clients with their bank. It’s also startling that so few banks consider the needs of non-clients and offer information prior to the log-in-screen, which could be a good way to inform and attract potential customers. Most of the content is only available behind the password protected walls of the app.

Every physical bank branch displays posters, brochures, client magazines, even multi-media terminals are available, to cross-market products to clients or distribute general information. But the significance of the regular branch office is rapidly shrinking compared to the increasing number of clients who carry their personal branch office in their pockets. It is a huge opportunity to use this mobile channel, which is much more frequently visited by clients than a bricks-and-mortar office, to sell products, advertise services and strengthen the bank’s brand.


The biggest security risks for mobile banking

Friday, January 31st, 2014

When in December 2012 an estimated 36 million Euros were stolen from of over 30,000 mobile banking app users in Europe, the expected public outcry failed to appear. Although Trojans and other malware have been repeatedly used to hijack user accounts (migrating from PCs and laptops to new devices) those incidents still don’t spark too many concerns for mobile security. As the volume and value of payments flowing through the mobile channel are on the rise, it is likely that hackers will target mobile channels in rapid succession, exploiting users’ outright dependency on handheld devices.


There’s no question that the innovation, product and services development, that is taking place, provides consumers with greater convenience and flexibility. We are used to connecting with friends on Facebook, entertaining ourselves with a quick game and carrying out our everyday banking tasks, using sensitive access data while on the go.

Ensuring that the consumer is appropriately protected in this changing environment is a challenging task for financial institutions and mobile operators. Accompanied by the rapid mobile development, new ways of fraud, breaching security, and other acts of piracy are opening up. The following list illustrates the most common risks today:


Mobility and Convenience

One of the reasons that mobile banking is so popular, is that it can be done ‘on the go’. The immediate access to all our bank information and services meets our need for convenience. This need results in the saving of passwords and user names, which undermines their effectiveness, or even the omission of additional tokens for processing payments. Entering another token might slow the user down, but it adds another layer of security. Losing a device with so little security entails great dangers.


Phishing scams aim to lure users to reveal their private information such as user names, passwords or credit card credentials. By imitating text messages or emails from the bank that contain links to spoofed websites or a request for account information, the user is betrayed into giving sensitive data directly to the thief.

Wi-Fi networks

Public connections are generally not very secure - most places that offer a public Wi-Fi hotspot warn users not to share sensitive information over the network. Many users might be tempted to check their balance while frequenting the coffee shop around the corner.

Several way authorization

While the classic online banking uses an interplay of various channels (e.g. computer and mobile phone, computer and paper-tokens - transaction authentication numbers, computer and token-generator), for mobile banking this is not the case. With a smartphone this protective duality disappears: both credentials (card number/user name and the token) are available on the phone. It is obvious that a stolen phone therefore offers more sensitive data, which can cause a financial loss.


The mobile channel offers a whole new wealth of possibilities for hackers. Trojans that record entire voice conversations, sending them back to command and control the phone, keylogger programs that record every single keystroke the user makes - those are just two examples of malware attacks that are on the rise.


It is therefore the new imperative for financial service providers and banks to shed their widespread ‘wait and see’ attitude and start implementing a comprehensive strategy that includes cross-channel monitoring, development of clear policies and monitoring of the market places where their apps have achieved mass penetration. The solution lies in being responsive to the rapid changes taking place in the mobile landscape - allowing defenses to respond in real time by using big data algorithms. However, the most important and most neglected part of any security strategy must be the education of the client. 99% of all security breaches in online banking are (ultimately) causes by human error and carelessness. So, it was shocking for us when we found in our mobile app benchmarking analyses - over and over again - a lack of security information and anti-fraud education within mobile apps, app store descriptions or on mobile portals which function to make apps more popular. The change of this shortcoming is job number one.


Top 10 Tech-Trends in Mobile & Digital Banking 2014

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

Trying to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to technological development is a challenging task. In 2013 rapid movement has affected the finance industry landscape: mobile banking has established itself as a regular touch-point for customers, mobile payments have exploded and banks are wrestling big data more than ever. We have surveyed our analyst team to note down in short the most important technology trends for the banking industry in the post-PC era for 2014:

10) One interface for all channels
As digital touch points evolve, users’ tendencies to contact financial services online will grow alongside. Using a variety of different devices is one consequence. Financial providers, therefore, will have to create a uniform experience across all channels, with the same level of real-time responsiveness and personal service.

9) Financial Education goes gaming
For reaching the generation that grew up with computer games, banks will have to come up with innovative approaches. One possibility is to put the fun in finance: offering a variety of games that playfully educate not only children, but also adults.

8 ) Slimming the wallet
In the future banking technologies will mainly focus on reducing complexity and enhancing user experience. One of these gadgets will literally show how to slim your wallet: One example is the technology from start-up “Coin” based in San Francisco: the electronic card that stores multiple cards on one Bluetooth device, can merge all your credit and debit cards with the support of an adapter and a mobile app.

7) “What’s App” inspires communication channels within apps
Chat functions modeled after the popular “What’s App” will enter banking apps. Connecting with your advisor will be easier, more personal and convenient than ever. Provided banking app developers hear the call.

6) Voice command on the rise
Some banks have already come up with features that allow, for example, voice recognition for log-ins or entering simple commands. Banking apps will take this one step further and remove the need to use buttons, dials and switches completely.

5) Windows Mobile gaining market share
Of all of the leading operating systems, Windows Mobile obtained the largest year-on-year growth worldwide. A result primarily driven by the support of Nokia. Nevertheless, Windows Mobile is likely to become the 3rd most important platform next year to distribute financial apps.

4) Demand for digital advisors
Digital advisor tools will become an important part of the digital channels of bank. These include budgeting or financial planning tools, and also complex instruments for risk assessment and investment decision making are up and coming. Besides improving user experience through interactive features and personalization options, these tools create a unique overview and understanding of the user’s personal finances. Supporting customers to strengthen their own financial know-how might replace the personal advisor in some cases, but will open up valuable insights into customer behavior and increase loyalty in the long run.

3) Wearable banking
As the first banking apps for Google Glass roll out, potential customers are already excited. Wearable gadgets that allow various services through voice command or simple touch are coming to life. Although still in their infancy, these technologies will progress and soon your watch will call out when your credit card account is maxing out.

2) Digital Currencies gain Legitimacy
Although there remain serious doubts about virtual money, currencies like Bitcoin, Litecoin and co. will gain popularity and legitimacy, and not just within the virtual economy. The arena is moving from online gaming platforms to real-life goods and will gain widespread use with online retailers and potentially even with banks. Will your digital channel enable Bitcoin payments soon?

1) Big Data: generating value from app-user information
The financial technology landscape is evolving, and so is competition, complexity and the amount of data processed and generated every day. Particularly, information derived from mobile users has a high potential and will generate new insights. Banks will thereby be able to create completely new products and differentiate themselves on the market.

We wish all our clients and readers relaxing holidays and a happy, successful New Year!


For tablets top but for smartphones flop: wealth management websites for mobile browsers

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

Many banks and wealth advisers are struggling while trying to keep up pace with the rapid developments in our highly digitalized society. Particularly in the fields of mobile development and online adaptation, financial institutions are more and more challenged to meet the needs of the technology-savvy customer by providing an excellent user experience. Adapting the online presence to the mobile environment can only be considered a first step. Regarding these trends, our analysts have introduced some new criteria to this year’s (4th) edition of the MyPrivateBanking ‘Websites for Wealth Management‘ report. In comparison to the 2012 report we included criteria such as, external Internet recognition and the adaptation of the website for mobile devices. Particularly the latter has sadly proven to be a weak spot for most of the wealth advisors under evaluation.

As basic as the adaptation of a website to various mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets should be, our analysts were disappointed with the outcome of the evaluation. Full scores were only achieved if the entire website worked well for use on a tablet and a smartphone (whether or not it has been adapted) and points have been deducted for lower stages of adaptation. Around 60% of the banks scored points for this criterion with an average of 1.82 points (of total 3 points). While only 15 of the 50 Banks under evaluation offer a manageable version of their website for both devices, the majority only provides a functioning format for tablets. On average the performance of the smartphone-versions is weak: only a few are manageable without holding the device either horizontal or enlarging the font. Amongst the 27 banks that provided more or less manageable smartphone versions are, again, only very few banks that offer a reduced and adapted version of their website.
For the ‘digital native’, as the client of the future can be described, it will be crucial to gain fast access on the go, when searching for information on the respective website. Providers also have to keep in mind that consumers are moving towards a technological development that promotes device hybrid versions and even smaller tablets. Living in this digital environment certainly brings a host of exciting prospects, but also raises questions about how to adapt to new technologies. The concept of responsive design offers an approach that can support struggling wealth managers: It aims at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience, including easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling, across a wide range of devices (from mobile phones to laptop computer monitors). A website designed with a responsive design adapts the layout to the viewing environment and allows the user an undiluted experience. But it is important to keep in mind that the user is not forced to a specific website format. There should always be an easy way back to the full (desktop format) website when a mobile device user wishes to do so.


What Google Glass means for banking

Friday, May 31st, 2013

First there was the mainframe computer. A huge hulkish machine housed in a big data center. Then came the PC/desktop. A few years later we saw the first laptops and notebooks. Fast forward to today: smartphones and table computers are ruling the world. But the next big innovation is already underway: wearable computers. We are talking i-watches, helmet cams and, of course, glasses. Google has just introduced the concept of Google Glass: it’s a camera, a microphone, a search engine, a map and much more all linked through the view of your eyes. You can take videos, photos, and audio tapings just like you see and hear things at that moment. But you can also look at things or persons and get all the information that is stored on the web. You can make comments about anything you experience while walking or driving etc. etc.

What will happen to the banking industry when you look through Google Glass? There are some obvious things: find your way to the next ATM while walking a foreign city, getting directions to the next branch office of your bank or checking the latest forex rates while you look at the rates the money exchange booth in an airport is offering to you.

But there are also many further reaching possibilities you may think: what about getting ads for the best interest rates on cash accounts when you walk the streets and pass by a bank? What about bringing along your friend via Google Glass who happens to be an investment expert when you talk to your bank adviser the next time and getting her feedback on the bank’s investment proposal immediately? You may walk through town and get quotes and all the houses that are on sale plus the different financing options offered by competing banks. You probably can think of many more examples.

The concept of wearable computing brings a new dimension on how information is truly ubiquitous, every conversation is monitored and screened, in fact every human action can be recorded live, tagged and followed on any network. There are also huge regulatory and privacy issues arising. It’s time for banks to get ready for this next BIG thing.


Banking apps’ strengths and weaknesses

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

Which are the best and the worst features/areas of mobile banking apps? In our latest report on mobile banking apps for retail customers we have looked very much in detail at all the important functions. Here is the list of average percentages of the maximum reachable rating points for the banking apps from best to worst area:

User-friendlyness (e.g., navigation, speed): 89%
Availability of mobile apps (on different operating systems/platforms): 81%
Integration with other online media (e.g., website, social platforms): 81%
Core functions for clients (like account overview, payment features, brokerage): 76%
Security (encryption etc.): 70%
Support features for clients (like FAQ, help function etc.): 66%
Means of communication (email, messaging, phone numbers): 55%
Content and features for client retention (like product infos): 37%

I personally find it quite encouraging that user-friendlyness reaches such a strong score. This shows that banks have understood the important basics of how to “make” an app. On the other hand, the low score for communication features and marketing content is a bit shocking. It’s almost as if the banks don’t want to communicate with their clients and are not interested to leverage apps to showcase their products and services. Definitely something that should change in order to harness the full power of mobile apps for the banking business.


Mobile banking apps: improving around the globe

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

The result that strikes me most in our new report about Mobile Apps for Banking is how global and how broad the movement around banking apps is. The top-5 banks in our ranking are from the US, Singapore, France, Australia and the Netherlands. This shows that mobile apps in the finance industry have reallyreached a new stage on a worldwide scale. It is aslo interesting to see that the features and functions across countries are quite similar. Of course, there are lots of differences with regard to quality and content but the best banks provide apps that have comparable ranges of features and functions. But have a read for yourself….


MyPrivateBanking App Report Featured in the International Press

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

New York Times has reported about our research on apps as well as the German edition of the Financial Times. Some more coverage you will find here (TechNewsDaily, US), here (Fondsnieuws, Netherlands) and here (CIO, Germany).


Our new report on mobile banking apps released

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

Frankly, this is probably the most comprehensive report worldwide on banking and apps you can find. It is full of insights on how banks are doing with their mobile apps for private customers. One of the most surprising findings for me was that only 40% of the surveyed banks offered some kind of brokerage via mobile app. Another interesting result is that US banks (with the exception of Citbank) are very weak with regard to their mobile app strategy. Not sure whether this is due because US banks are more conservative than their competitors in Asia or Europe or whether they are facing some specific hurdles (like privacy laws…)