Fintech

Trends and Features of Mobile Banking Apps: an Analysis

Aleksandra Rajczyk
Aleksandra Rajczyk

The popularity of mobile banking has significantly increased due to the global pandemic. Banks have no other choice but to go fully digital if they want to stay relevant to the market. Here’s a brief overview of what’s trending in mobile banking features. 

Mobile banking has grown from being a nice addition for customers to a necessity for the well-being of the finance industry as a whole. Recognizing the key features of mobile banking is the first towards creating an app that will satisfy the customer’s needs. Trends are a force that changes rapidly, but one thing is certain: digital banking and virtual finances are here to stay. 

Trends and Features of Mobile Banking Apps: What to Watch Out For in 2021?

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic that has caused lockdowns all around the world, people don’t visit banks as often as they used to. What is more, their shopping habits have changed as well: online shopping is a preferred form of purchasing goods and services. Nowadays, the way people interact with their money is often entirely virtual. Card payments are favored over cash because it is more sanitary – a very important factor in the fight against the coronavirus. Therefore, mobile banking features should focus on working within this new reality. 

A customer-centric approach is key to creating a successful mobile banking experience. Features that make users’ life easier are the most valuable ones. That is why extensive research is necessary to give users what they need, not just a list of fancy features they’re never going to use. Understanding the common patterns of behavior of users allows us to create mobile banking features that are approachable to everyone – not only those who are the most tech-savvy. With smartphone usage on the constant rise, features have to be adapted to a target audience that doesn’t necessarily have been using the Internet for years. That is why mobile banking apps should be as simple as possible. Accommodating the needs of various target groups is sure of providing relevant solutions. 

Mobile banking app security is another subject that has to be taken into consideration. Multi-level authentication has already become the standard. This means that if the user wants to perform an online banking task, they have to confirm their identity in at least two types of ways:

  • through something they have (e.g. device),
  • through something they know (e.g. PIN code),
  • through something they are (e.g. fingerprint).

Securing users’ data is a challenge for the entire digital banking ecosystem. Without it, winning their trust will be impossible. Unfortunately, there’s a threat of fake mobile banking apps making rounds, especially outside of the official app stores. Educating customers about the dangers of unauthorized mobile banking software should be one of the priorities of mobile banking. 

Defining the Mobile Banking

What is mobile banking exactly? In essence, it’s a sum of financial operations a user can perform by using just their mobile device, without visiting the physical location of their bank or logging into a web application. 

Mobile banking can be understood as:

  • performing financial transactions via a mobile device (like during online shopping),
  • downloading an app to use services associated with traditional banking (accounts, payments, loans, debit and credit cards, insurance, etc.),
  • creating new services that respond to the needs of modern consumers, often referred to as fintech (short for “financial technology”). 

Mobile banking features are a structure of possibilities the user gets by downloading an app of their bank. Those features make financial operations possible. It’s important to provide features that solve the real problems of everyday users. 

What Are the Key Features of Mobile Banking?

Mobile banking has opened the door to innovation in financial services. Now more than ever customers are willing to give them a try. Below you’ll find a shortlist of features of mobile banking that will be in demand this year.

Personalized Money Management Insights

Customers often need help to properly monitor their budget. An insight into their spending habits gives them an easy way to look for savings. This can be achieved by a variety of options: providing users with tips, analyzing their data for spending habits, alarming them when the spending goes beyond the amount they have established earlier. Multiple tools for smart money management are a sure way to win customer’s loyalty and introduce them to some new financial products as well. 

Peer-to-Peer Payment Systems

Peer-to-Peer payments (or Person-to-Person payments, or just P2P) allows a user to send funds from their bank account or credit card directly to another person. Users don’t need to provide each other with sensitive information like their credit card number or bank account details. They also don’t need to rely on a financial institution to process the transfer. An app or a mobile banking feature that enables P2P is all the customers need to request and receive money almost immediately. 

Secure Mobile Check Deposit

What is a mobile check deposit? It means adding cash to the account without the need to visit the bank, which is a very attractive prospect in the times of COVID-19. How to do it? Simple: the user takes a photo of their check, provides necessary information in their mobile banking app, and clicks “submit.” It’s a technique similar to scanning documents to make a digital copy. More and more banks opt for mobile check deposits to minimize potential exposure to coronavirus. A feature that should be looked into can be called the cash app instant deposit.

Apps for Wearables

Smartphones aren’t the only mobile devices that could benefit from mobile banking features. Smartwatches are on their way to become the wallets of the digital age. Banks could also look into creating special banking wristbands that could be used for quick client verification. It would perfectly comply with the rules of multi-level authentication. 

Mobile Photo Bill Pay

The quickest way to pay bills. All the user needs to do is log into their mobile banking account and scan the bill in front of them. Then all they need to do is make sure that the amount is correct and hit “send.” This form of payment doesn’t require any additional steps like logging into a payment gateway. 

This is just a brief introduction to what mobile banking features customers are looking for. Innovation is what fuels the market and we have yet to reach its full potential. 

Trends in Mobile Banking

Mobile banking features are only as reliable and secure as the technology that has created them. Here’s a list of some of the most popular trends in mobile banking for 2021. 

Blockchain

Blockchain is a technology that financial institutions have been aware of for a while now. That is because Blockchain guarantees data transparency and provides strong fraud protection. It’s possible thanks to decentralization and asymmetric encryption. Once a piece of data has been stored into a block, it can’t be tampered with. This the financial tools of mobile banking do not put the customers at risk of losing their sensitive data. Blockchain is also considered one of the pillars of cryptocurrency exchange. 

Open API and Open Banking

Not even a trend anymore but a necessity, Open API is a mandatory practice for banks operating in the European Union thanks to the PSD2 directive. In layman’s terms, PSD2 requires banks to open their API (internal architecture with users’ data) to Third-Party Providers (TPP). TPPs are usually fintech companies that provide innovative solutions to the financial market. Thanks to this, emerging financial services can easily connect to legacy banks, and traditional banking institutions have easier access to the newest technologies. The deadline for PSD2 compliance was set for December 31st, 2020, so in 2021 every banking institution in the European Union should have already incorporated the guidelines for Open Banking – a result of Open API. 

Bank-As-A-Platform

The trend has been strongly influenced by PSD2 and Open Banking. Banks with appropriate mobile banking features could become a one-stop-shop for all things related to money. Think of this as 5 apps combined into one, where the user can pay their rent, order a credit card, check their spending habits, invest in the stock market, buy insurance, see their financial activity feed, send money to a friend, make a purchase, and many more without the need to switch from app to app.

Debt management assistance

The need for debt management assistance is yet another unpleasant result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tons of people have found themselves in a situation where they have to renegotiate their repayment plans with the creditors. A lot of bank customers have to face bankruptcy. By implementing debt management assistance as part of mobile banking features, banks can give their customers a sense of comfort in uncertain times. Easy access to a debt manager is a good solution for those who have strong negative feelings about their situation that could prevent them from talking about finances face to face at the banking location. 

Voice banking

The growing popularity of voice assistants such as Siri and Alexa introduces voice control to the world of banking. Because it’s so easy and widely available even to people with disabilities, it’s the next big thing in 2021. Simple voice commands create the idea of banking-on-the-go which is the perfect description of mobile banking. 

Some other trends in mobile banking that are worth considering in 2021 are smart bots and AI clerks for mobile devices, micro-loans, and e-wallets. Successful implementations of the trends start with a good understanding of the target audience and their problems – otherwise, banks will be left with tools that irritate instead of providing help, and users are very quick to dismiss apps that didn’t meet their expectations. 

Summary

Mobile banking has been growing since the introduction of smartphones to the general market. However, the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 accelerated the expansion of digital tools for finance. It happened because people are less likely to leave their houses and prefer to do their shopping online. Mobile banking features should create a seamless user experience. They need to be flexible to appeal to a large audience. Millennials and Gen-Z aren’t the only demographic interested in mobile banking: less tech-savvy customers are also looking into new ways of managing their finances. Mobile banking in the European Union is now supported by multi-level authentication and Third-Party Providers. We live in the era of Open Banking, in which banks have their APIs open so fintech companies can easily access information about their customers. Thanks to this, the customers can use new tools such as personalized money management, voice banking, mobile photo bill pay, secure mobile check deposits, and P2P payments. The trends predict that the next big thing in mobile banking features will be associated with Blockchain technology, voice recognition, debt management assistance, Open Banking, and the Bank-As-A-Platform approach. Even though the coronavirus pandemic will end someday, digital banking tools will stay for good to improve the lives of thousands of people.

For more information about Fintech and mobile banking we invite you to read our related articles:

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