A hands-on look at why Canadian banks need tablet apps

The latest Celent report isn’t kind to some of our major financial institutions, suggesting more work on mobile UX is needed

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banking tablet app canada

You know your industry is in for a tongue lashing when two of its biggest players are chided for “inexcusable” behaviour just two paragraphs into an analyst report.

Or lack of behaviour, in this case. In a report released Nov. 24, analysts from Celent marvel that in the 12 months since their last study, some of Canada’s largest banks still hadn’t introduced tablet banking apps.

“Digital channels are a competitive requirement and while it was surprising to find adoption so low a year ago, it’s inexcusable today,” says the study co-authored by Celent analyst Stephen Greer and Jacob Jegher, research director for Celent’s banking practice.

At least one bank scored big in the Celent study. Tangerine (formerly ING Canada and now owned by Scotiabank) topped three categories with its tablet app: user experience (UX), breadth of functionality and depth of service. Overall, though, Celent says Canada’s banks are plodding along rather than innovating when it comes to mobile engagement.

  • two of the Android apps wouldn’t even load on Celent’s test device; after the apps repeatedly failed to load on two other types of Android tablets, Celent dubbed them “half-baked”
  • the banks aren’t regularly updating design elements for their apps, even though Celent notes “the standards for design and UX have changed substantially” in the past year
  • most of the apps still lack key features such as a comprehensive dashboard, social media, personal financial management tools, financial education and literacy tools, easy account balance viewing, remote mobile bill payment and biometric security

Canadian banks aren’t the only ones grappling with mobile and omni-channel engagement, however. According to Capgemini’s 2014 World Retail Banking Report, financial institutions worldwide are failing to provide “a seamless and unified customer experience through all channels,” especially for Generation Y clientele.

Are banks that fail to master mobile engagement at risk of losing customers? Not yet, said Greer.

“There’s very little evidence that anything more than a small subset of consumers really are influenced by mobile as far as their decision to leave a bank or switch a bank,” Greer told me. “But what mobile does do is (make a bank’s existing) customers more loyal and stickier.”

That “small subset” might be growing, however. According to a survey released in March by AlixPartners, 60 per cent of U.S. tablet or smartphone owners who switched primary banks cited mobile banking capabilities as “important” or “extremely important” in their decision. That’s up dramatically from 48 per cent a year earlier. In another survey released in September by Mitek, 35 per cent of millennials said they’ve “made a decision on where to spend money or switched companies based on the organization’s mobile app.”

Looking at all this data, what’s the biggest worry for Canada’s banks? It’s not that Canadian banks are lagging behind their global competitors and counterparts on the mobile front; they’re all struggling with it collectively. It’s that banks around the world – Canadian ones included – need to work harder than ever to keep up with customer expectations.

image via PicJumbo

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