Consumers are seeking more helpful services from their financial services providers, who are responding by making mobile apps the modern way for them to manage their money.
Once little more than a convenient way to check account balances, mobile apps have become an integral part of the financial services customer experience for everything from making payments to making better financial decisions. In fact, with the acceleration in digital transformation brought on by the CVOID-19 pandemic, industry watchdogs are talking about a not-too-far off time when the smartphones that provide access to mobile apps could actually replace the wallets used today to hold cash and cards, as well as take away a sizeable share of financial management website market.
Mobile app downloads are growing: Customer engagement platform provider MoEngage published findings on worldwide downloads of banking related apps, indicating they have grown by more than 20% in Q2 2020 compared to Q1 2020. Usage is high as well. In a study conducted by Citi, mobile banking app usage ranked third behind social media and weather apps.
The good news is that the mobile apps are both convenient for users and helpful for smart organizations who look at them as a way to deliver value-added services and deepen relationships with customers.
Here are three interesting financial services mobile app trends that are shaping the industry:
1. Chatbots and Digital Assistants
Powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI and ML), mobile app chatbots can be used to help direct people to the services that will address their in-the-moment needs. More than two-thirds of top global financial services firms feature a chatbot in their mobile banking app, and organizations such as Bank of America and Capital One are also offering voice-based chatbot experiences using Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple Siri.
Bank of America’s virtual assistant, called Erica, is available for free for all bank customers. According to BofA, Erica is AI-driven and combines predictive analytics and natural language to help mobile app users access balance information, transfer money between accounts, send money with Zelle, and schedule meetings at financial centers. Customers can interact with Erica in any way they choose, including voice commands, texting, or tapping options on their phone’s screen.
Personalization is coming of age in mobile apps in the same way that Amazon creates recommended products for customers to purchase, or Netflix suggests movies and shows for viewers to watch.
Financial services organizations such as Chase Bank combine a customer’s in-app activities along with historical data to provide a bevy of financial services to customers. ‘Today’s Snapshot’ is a Chase mobile app feature that displays daily spending habits and helps users to see their overall spending trends by category such as food, entertainment and gas. To further help with money management, on a customer’s pay day, the app alerts them with an to pay certain bills, or allows them to create a rule to reach a savings goal.
3. Contactless ATMs
A key benefit of mobile banking is the contactless behaviors it enables. It provides access to customers who are unable, unwilling or simply prefer not to visit physical locations. Interestingly, mobile banking technology innovations are also improving the experience for helping customers who do visit physical locations – specifically ATMs.
With QR code readers and near-field technologies, ATM users who are also mobile app users can access their accounts and withdraw funds just by scanning or waving their phone screen in front of the machine. This makes for a faster, easier and more secure experience than having to insert a card, remember the passcode and then enter it while standing in a public place.
Infrastructure to Bank On
What does the proliferation of mobile apps mean for the data centers housing the technology workloads that enable them?
First, it’s critical to have an automated, responsive and robust IT infrastructure in place to ensure uptime, performance and data protection. Savvy financial services organizations rely on flexible, hybrid IT infrastructures that can scale to support the levels of data and activity modern services require.
Second, cutting-edge mobile app workloads require powerful — and power-hungry — databases. This is yet another reason for data center operators who partner with (or want to partner with) financial services organizations to embrace energy-efficiency initiatives. Energy costs related to cooling account for nearly 37% of the overall data center power consumption, and are the fastest rising data center operation expense.
Hyperscalers such as Google are focused on fully decarbonizing electricity supply and power cloud workloads using carbon free electricity every hour of every day in every region. Additionally, many multi-tenant data center operators are using advanced cooling systems that optimize air flow with smart sensors, and some are switching to clean energy to power their facilities in efforts to offset environmental impact. Others are deploying strong environmental monitoring and management systems to help to provide the information that’s needed to maximize performance and avoid unnecessary costs.
By Jennifer Vallarautto
June 2, 2021