Mobile Banking: Just Another Channel Or Fundamental Strategic Shift?

In the past week I’ve have the privilege of talking to (or listening to) executives responsible for mobile banking at some of Europe’s biggest banks, including Bankinter, Barclays Bank, La Caixa, Lloyds TSB, Nordea and RBS, at Forrester’s Marketing & Strategy Forum and at a conference on Next Generation Mobile Banking hosted by The Banker. I’ve also spoken privately to many other executives over the past few months, including at Forrester’s eBusiness Council meeting this week.

Without naming names, I’m struck by the sharply different perspectives these executives have. Simplistically, their view of mobile banking falls into two camps:

                Mobile is just another channel. These executives see mobile banking as a way of letting customers do old things, like checking their account balance, in new ways.

                Mobile will revolutionize retail banking. These executives believe that mobility could turn the retail banking industry upside down, by enabling customers to do entirely new things like scanning bills to make payments, responding to location-based offers, and receiving rewards at the point of sale.

You can probably guess which camp I’m in. (But if you can’t, it’s aptly summarized in the title of a report by my colleague Julie Ask: "Mobile Is Not Just Another Channel.")

I’ve also been lucky enough to be briefed about mobile banking technologies by some very smart people at companies like Clairmail, IND Group, Nice Systems and Personetics about their vision of how mobile banking will develop. It’s going to be an interesting couple of years.

How do you think mobile banking will change customer behavior, channel strategy, and the retail banking industry?

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Comments

A Revolution

Ben, interesting post. It appears that there are still a scary majority of banks that just don't understand the potential of mobile beyond just a channel. Will be even more interesting to watch the shift in market power, as those who understand the shift accelerate revolutionary strategies to empower and leverage the eco-system strengths of mobile. Stay in touch. Scott

Shift in market power?

Scott

Thank you for your thoughts. It's going to be fascinating to see whether either new entrants or faster-moving established firms can use the opportunities created by mobile banking and mobile payments to capture market share from slower-moving incumbents. [To be fair to those incumbents, many of the banks have one or both of their hands tied behind their backs because of the financial crisis.]

Benjamin