Is Online Banking Dead?

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22 October 2013
Jacob Jegher
Mobile banking is clearly a huge trend. Financial institutions have embraced mobile and are slowly but surely moving forward with updated apps, features and functions. I spend a lot of time talking to banks of all sizes about digital banking. From tablets to smartphones, mobile banking has dominated most of my conversations with banks and software vendors in 2013. Whatever happened to good old online banking? Are banks working on improving it? Are they spending money on online banking enhancements? Whatever happened to the promise of PFM? How is this all going to play out as we move into 2014? Banks can't afford to drop the online banking ball. There are several key reasons for this:
  • The online channel is still the most popular with consumers of all ages. The results of our most recent consumer survey (September 2013) are quite clear. While mobile is certainly growing in importance and popularity, online still rules.
  • Most tablet banking apps are pitiful. Kudos to the banks that have ventured down this road as it's an interesting and exciting space. However, we recently reviewed the tablet apps of the top banks in the US, and most can't compete with the features, functionality or experience of classic online banking. I recently spoke with a bank that had just finished doing some customer research to evaluate how customers were using their tablet app. Some customers had 2 programs running simultaneously on the tablet - the banking app and the online banking site in the browser - the simplistic nature of the standalone app simply wouldn't cut it.
  • Digital banking needs to be more than a transaction hub for balance checks, bill pay and transfers. Commerce / shopping, PFM, financial education, and so much more belong in online banking. They also belong in tablet banking, and pieces belong in smartphone banking - but that's a different yet complementary story.
Online banking isn't dead, it's a critical component of a bank's digital banking portfolio. Banks need to balance their budgets accordingly so that they are able to efficiently invest funds in a common framework that can serve the customer. Users expect to pick up any device and have the appropriate experience. The burden is on the financial institution to provide it.

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