Mobile Banking Dominates Banks’ Innovation Spending in 2016

Mobile banking is the most valuable area of innovation when it comes to consumers, say banks and credit unions—which is probably why that’s the area these institutions are spending the most money on trying to innovate.

This is according to Bank Innovation’s annual State of Banking Innovation survey for 2016, which includes answers from 171 participants, the majority of whom worked at banks.

Though blockchain and bitcoin innovation was an option in questions related to what consumers value most and what FIs put resources toward, only 2 out of the 171 respondents—both of who identified as credit unions—chose it as the area that their company was spending the most money on for innovation; and none of the respondents chose it as an option when speaking of customer value. Blockchain pessimism is indeed picking up steam in financial circles. Blockchain was not a choice for participants last year, however, so there may be something to be said for the technology’s move into mainstream banking.

Though most banks now have an innovation team, or at least a group with “fintech” somewhere in the description, most bankers still ranked their institute’s level of innovation as poor (1 on a scale from 1, poor, to 5, excellent) across areas including retail banking, commercial banking, online, and smartphones, as well as innovation overall; responses on the level of progress made with ATM technology and store branches were slightly higher, but still not overly enthusiastic.

7.6% of those who identified themselves as working at a bank also ranked their company’s brand, as a whole, as “not innovative;” while those at “finance companies,” and financial services startups put themselves at three or four (“fair or “good”) out of five when it comes to innovation.

While these may seem like odd results, especially when juxtaposed with the current charged atmosphere of fintech startups as they move forward with new technologies, the survey results do speak to a growing understanding of the need for innovation among traditional banks.

Despite the relatively low innovation scores these banks gave themselves, 41% of them identified mobile banking as the most significant area of innovation in regards to consumers–this is down slightly from last year’s figure of around 47%; however more bankers chose mobile banking as the area their companies were focusing on spending; 37% this year compared with last year’s 26%.

As to what holds banking innovation back, that’s easy —  “corporate bureaucracy” once again.

While blockchain may appeal to backend or other solutions to streamline finance work, it certainly still has a way to go to beat the smartphone when it comes to consumers, if indeed it ever does.

To learn more about mobile banking join us in Tel Aviv for Bank Innovation Israel this November 1-3. Register here.

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