Bank of America Redesigns Email Alerts

Peter Wannemacher

Few things are as unsexy as emails from a financial services company. But email alerts play an important role in the world of digital banking: Forrester’s new research report shows that alerts drive mobile banking usage and engagement.

Too few digital banking teams allocate significant resources to their alerts efforts — as evidenced by the mixed results in the Alerts category of Forrester’s Digital Banking Benchmark scores. But some banks have recently sought to improve their email, SMS, and in-app alerts (also called “push notifications”).

Bank of America has now launched the latest updates to its alerts. Just a couple of years ago, the bank’s email alerts were text-heavy, unwieldy, crowded messages with little clear guidance for customers. But through multiple iterations, Bank of America redesigned its alerts to be clean and simple with a clear call to action based on the purpose of the alert (see images below).

Forrester spoke with  Alex Wittkowski, VP and senior product manager of mobile banking and commerce at Bank of America, who discussed how the bank redesigned its email alerts “to focus on just those few crucial elements” at the heart of an alert’s value to the customer. According to Wittkowski, the redesigned alerts are now:

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The Wounded Unicorns Of Fintech

Oliwia Berdak

Finovate, KPMG, and CB Insights are all reporting on record investments in financial technology (fintech) in 2016.[i] According to Finovate, the total number of deals year-to-date stands at 737, double last year’s 371. The amount invested has more than doubled, too — from $8.4 billion raised during the same period a year ago to $17.4 billion year-to-date.

There seems to be a lot of optimism in fintech, especially when you consider this chart:

Source: Yahoo Finance.

The share prices of fintech darlings in peer-to-peer (P2P) lending, small-business lending, and mobile payments have collapsed post-IPO. And devaluations aren’t affecting only publicly owned companies. Zenefits — which offers cloud-based software to manage payroll, health insurance, and other benefits — was valued at $4.5 billion in May 2015. Since then, Fidelity, which led the funding round, has written down the value of its investment, now estimating Zenefits' share price at $5.60 — down from $14.90 a year earlier.[ii]

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Mobile Search: It’s Different

Julie Ask

This post is co-authored by Jennifer Wise, senior analyst at Forrester

Mobile search is essential. In fact, according to Forrester’s Mobile Audience Data, Q4 2015, 87% of US smartphone owners rely on browser-based search on mobile devices. And the data reveals that Google’s search engine is the most common path to a mobile site even for well-known brands such as Amazon, Walmart and Kmart.

As a top discovery resource, companies can’t afford to wait any longer to implement a mobile-first search strategies. The biggest seen mistake today? Either lacking a strategy completely, or treating mobile search the same way as desktop search. As Forrester Research’s Dr. James McQuivey says, “When businesses first adopt a technology, they do old things in new ways. When they internalize a technology, they begin to do new things.” Consumers use mobile phones very differently than they use desktop computers. So must Marketers.

Forrester conducted an in-depth analysis of how consumers use Google search on mobile versus desktop devices to parse-out how consumers use the two devices differently. Today, Forrester finds that consumers purchase a range of categories on their smartphones: insurance, travel, financial services products, and even pet food. For this research we focused on the travel category because consumers are so likely to research and book travel on mobile devices – Forrester’s Mobile Audience Online Survey, Q4 2015 reveals that 29% of mobile users have purchased hotel rooms and 22% an airline ticket on their smartphone.

To build on our Forrester insights, we looked at Google’s data and discovered that when it comes to mobile searching:

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Counting Down To Forrester's Next-Generation Financial Services Summit Sydney

Zhi-Ying Ng

Despite being geographically far away from the rest of the world, Australia's financial services sector has found its place on the world stage. Australian banks are some of the most innovative in the world. As our 2016 Global Mobile Banking Functionality Benchmark has shown, some Australian banks have overtaken their global counterparts, with Westpac taking the coveted top spot.

The question that I often get asked from Australian digital banking teams is, "so what's next in financial services?"

And I think that's a great question. As uncertain economic conditions, wavering markets, and tight budgets continue to increase the pressure on Australian digital teams to deliver better experiences and increased sales through digital touchpoints, we believe that digital business executives have to drive digital transformation. And this means far more than simply developing a "digital strategy". 

Digital banking executives must make mobile the hub of customer interactions, and not treat mobile as if it were just another channel. They should develop mobile banking as a platform to engage customers. To continue to win and retain mindshare and increase wallet share, the next step digital banking teams must focus on are ways to create new sources of value for their customers, not just meeting their basic needs.

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We Have A New Mobile Banking Leader: Westpac Tops Forrester’s Global Benchmark In 2016

Aurelie L'Hostis

Mobile banking adoption has reached critical mass. Rapid progress in mobile technologies and consumers' ever-increasing expectations and changing behavior have left many banks around the world playing catch-up. In the meantime, a cluster of banks is racing forward by putting customers at the center of their strategy, striving to anticipate customers' emerging needs, and by embracing an agile and iterative approach to speed up the development of new mobile capabilities that differentiate them from their peers. Today, these banks are delivering outstanding services to their customers in mobile, and in 2016, Westpac in Australia is leading the pack.

To help digital business strategy leaders better understand the landscape of mobile banking, identify best practices, and benchmark their own capabilities in this area, Forrester conducts an annual functionality benchmark applying 40 criteria. This year, we evaluated 46 leading retail banks from more than a dozen countries across four continents, and have just published the findings in our "2016 Global Mobile Banking Functionality Benchmark" report.

Here are some of the highlights from the global benchmark report:

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Responsive Web Design Is Not Mobile First

Julie Ask

My colleague and coauthor Ted Schadler and I are watching with dismay as company after company shrinks its desktop website down to a small screen using responsive web design (RWD) techniques so it fits on – but isn’t optimized for – smartphones.

Companies have delightedly embraced responsive web design as the one-size-fits-all solution to mobile, tablet, and desktop sites. In a recent survey of digital business professionals, we found that 93% are using, piloting, or planning to pilot responsive web design.

That sounds great on paper. After all, RWD is a very practical approach to developing websites that render on any device. But when mobile tasks diverge from desktop tasks as they often do in commerce, the one-size-fits-all approach taken by most responsive retrofits will fail to delight or even satisfy customers on smartphones or desktops.

People do different things on their smartphones than on their desktops or tablets (see figure). To delight and serve your customers in their mobile moments of need, you need to give them exactly what they need to move forward in their immediate context. So if you can't reach all customers with an app – AND YOU WON’T! – you will need to deliver an app-like mobile web experience.

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Traditional Banks Are Catching Up To Third-Party Payment Platforms In China

Xiaofeng Wang

This is the second year that Forrester has evaluated the mobile banking services in China, and we’ve just published the results in our 2016 China Mobile Banking Functionality Benchmark report. Compared with last year, we found that incumbent banks are close on the heels of top performer Alipay. Mobile banking teams can use these findings to benchmark their own mobile banking capabilities and identify areas for improvement.

To help mobile banking teams benchmark their mobile banking capabilities, identify critical mobile features, and plan for the future, we used our updated Mobile Banking Functionality Benchmark methodology to evaluate the mobile banking services of six of the largest retail banks in China, including five traditional banks — Agricultural Bank of China (ABC), Bank of China (BOC), China Construction Bank (CCB), China Merchants Bank (CMB), and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) — and one nontraditional bank: Alipay.

The Chinese mobile banking services we reviewed achieved an average score of 59 out of 100, an improvement over last year's 55. Leading traditional banks like CMB and ICBC have made many improvements over the past year and narrowed the gap with leader Alipay. Overall, we found that:

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What Drives Mobile Banking Engagement?

Peter Wannemacher

This blog post is a collaboration between Peter Wannemacher and Nicole Dvorak, who also collaborated on Forrester's brand-new report on this topic.

As former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg once tweeted, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it and you can’t fix it.” Digital executives at banks must understand and gauge the drivers of mobile banking in order to boost engagement. To help executives and their teams accomplish this, Forrester recently built a driver analysis model to identify which factors increase mobile banking app use (as measured by the number of days used and the average duration of a session). This model included two categories of potential drivers: perceptions and behaviors. The full results of this research are detailed in our new report here.

Here are three key takeaways from our research:

  • Feelings of accomplishment fuel mobile banking use. The degree to which a mobile banking app helps a customer feel positive and accomplished has the largest impact on how often that customer will use mobile banking. This is further evidence that architecting positive emotional experiences is crucial to maintaining an engaged mobile banking audience. At leading providers, digital business execs and their teams will accomplish this, in part, by focusing on bank customers' mobile moments.  
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Digital Labs Can Do More Harm Than Good

Oliwia Berdak

Exposed brick is replacing marble at many banks, insurers, and payment firms. Warehouses are deemed a better location for digital labs, digital centers of excellence, innovation labs, and innovation centers. But why are these spaces proliferating from Silicon Valley to Singapore?

A cynic could say it’s a marketing exercise aimed at making the respectable (if a little slow) financial institutions seem more innovative — and more attractive to both customers and developers. But it’s more than that. Frustration and ambition are pushing business executives out from their traditional locations.

Digital labs promise speed by unshackling product and software development from slow business, technology, and compliance processes. They embrace new approaches, such as design thinking, customer centricity, and Agile development. They can drastically cut the time it takes to develop a proof of concept (POC).

But that’s where the dream ends.While these separate digital units aim to be disruptive, they often deliver just front-end apps or proofs of concept that are impossible to integrate and scale. Why? Because software-driven innovation requires a connection to systems of record, rigorous testing, an understanding of security and compliance threats, an analysis of impact on business units and revenue, and someone with the resources to own, love, and keep developing the product — all the things that made digital innovation so slow in the first place. All that labs achieve is to postpone these reality checks.

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Splitwise Is A Fintech Disruptor That Shows The Potential Of Shared Finances

Peter Wannemacher

Note: If you’re a Forrester client, you can jump straight to the full report here.

Two weeks ago, I was lucky enough to spend 10 days in Italy on a vacation with my wife and some friends. As we walked the Path of the Gods, made our own Neapolitan pizze, and enjoyed the gorgeous views of the Amalfi coast, different people in our group would pay for a limoncello here or a glass of aglianico there. As such, our financial activity was a mix of different individuals spending various amounts for a range of stuff. But our group was often too busy having fun to carefully track who paid how much for what and when.

Enter Splitwise* a non-bank mobile app that lets groups of people easily track their spending and settle their short-term debts to each other (see screenshots below). We used it throughout our trip, and it was a breeze.

But why didn’t a bank build this kind of convenient digital offering first? Or why don't more financial providers integrate with Splitwise and other disruptors to build ecosystems of values for their customers? Many bank executives and digital banking teams say their goal is to help customers better manage their finances (and increase retention and engagement by doing so). But too few financial institutions have focused on what Forrester calls the shared finances opportunity. Forrester defines shared finances as:

Any situation in which a person acts as an observer of, partner in, or proxy for another person's finances.

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