Will Tablets Change Banking?

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3 February 2011
Bob Meara
Tablet computing is on an obvious growth trajectory, but is this trend something banks should be acting upon, and if so – how? Said another way, led buy Apple’s iPad, will tablets change banking? In the words of Sarah Palin, “You betcha!”. We see tablets contributing to financial services channel delivery both inside the branch network and as a viable self-service channel on its own. Tablets provide distinctive and compelling attributes that, in our opinion, will drive adoption: • Mobility compared to the desktop platform, with the ability to operate usefully in both online and offline environments. • Particularly rich video delivery capability. • A unique form factor making the platform particularly useful for interactivity between staff and bank customers. Several examples of tablet applications may help illustrate. USAA Federal Savings Bank this week launched its iPad application after months of design effort aimed at leveraging iPad’s unique attributes. Like USAA’s internet and mobile channels, the application provides banking, insurance, investments and financial advice in one place. That’s where the similarities end. The tablet application enjoys less latency. Significantly more content is available above the log-in and it’s more intuitively and easily acquired. And, the content is available whether online or offline. See: www.usaa.com. Financial Management Solutions, Inc. (FMSI), a provider of workforce automation solutions aimed at small to midsize financial institutions will be introducing an iPad integration to its Lobby Tracking System (LTS). LTS is a web-based, queuing and reporting tool that tracks key productivity, sales and service indicators. Running LTS on a tablet in addition to desktops will provide FIs new options beyond traditional desk based concierges. Finantix, a Venice Italy based provider of front end sales and service solutions launched its Wealth Apps 2.0, a comprehensive suite of wealth management applications for the Apple iPad last month and plans similar applications for its banking platform sales application in the future. Finantix won Best of Show at Finovate Europe this week with its app. Tablet apps are clearly nascent in retail banking at the moment. Banks should evaluate the use of tablets in future branch initiatives and keep the heat on vendors that are slow to respond. Why? Because tablets will help branches sell more effectively with a reduced training burden. How might this work? Currently most banks rely on branch staff to engage customers as directed by staff-facing CRM systems (or no system at all). Using a tablet interactively with clients reinvents the experience. It holds the promise of a more engaging interaction – one in which branch staff interact alongside clients as coaches. In the process, much paper can be eliminated and workflow efficiency much improved. As a self-service channel, tablets will likely emerge as yet another development opportunity. No one really wanted another delivery channel to manage, but this one looks like it’s a keeper.

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