Monday, October 12, 2009

When mobile banking becomes an essential element of retail banking.

My bank (who will remain nameless) used to have a free loyalty program. Recently, they made the loyalty program optional and I have to pay if I want to join it. It is obvious that I will now be less loyal.

A lot has been written about what will make mobile banking succeed. What is the elusive killer application that will make people sign up in their thousands. I have heard many experts say that it is the distribution strategies. If one can figure out how to place the mobile money application in the hands of subscribers, then it will truly become mainstream. "It is a trust issue" others say. "If people know their money is safe, they will put more money into their mobile wallets"... and so on and so on. All of the above are of course on the right track. The recipe for a successful mobile banking offering is a concoction of many different things and it is important to get all of this right.

But as is the case with loyalty programs, mobile banking will only become mainstream if it is an essential part of the service that banks offer. I cannot see how a retail bank can function effectively without a working loyalty program in today's competitive marketplace. Only when mobile banking becomes an essential component of delivering retail banking, will it get the management attention it needs to grow. In some markets this threshold has been crossed and it has surpassed Internet banking in usage. In others it is just a question of time.

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