As ‘super apps’ gain ground, banks navigate user experience hurdles

Image via Pixabay

With the rise of Alipay and WeChat in Asia, and the growth of e-commerce and banking capabilities within platforms like Uber and Grab, banks and bank-type platforms are following suit by adding new functions.

If 2019 saw the growth of new e-commerce solutions within mobile banking apps, 2020 may be the year banking platforms iron out user experience kinks. For example, banking and personal finance platform Stash rolled out ‘Stockback rewards’ and new budgeting features, while challenger N26 has added lifestyle brand partnerships along with new personal finance capabilities at a rapid clip. Legacy institutions are also quickly adding new features to mobile banking apps, but keeping the user experience as simple as possible presents a formidable challenge.

The fear of overwhelming the customer with too many functions is well founded. According to a recent J.D. Power survey of more than 17,000 customers, mobile banking app satisfaction declines as complex features stump consumers.

Andy Harmening, the consumer and business banking director at Huntington Bank, conceded that it can be hard to balance its app’s feel with its capabilities. To keep the app’s interface relevant, the bank’s user experience team tests different versions of the app and relies on user feedback through a variety of channels to make necessary changes, he said.

However, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, and accordingly, Huntington has opted for a personalized approach. Some customers can pick what notifications they want to receive, and they can choose to hide certain features they feel aren’t relevant, Harmening noted.

See also: Scotiabank, Fifth Third, SunTrust: Amazon, Apple inspiring UX

Meanwhile, digital-first challenger banks have begun using data analytics to personalize the app experience. MoneyLion founder and CEO Dee Choubey said the MoneyLion app suggests different services based on a customer’s individual situation, including their pay schedule. When funds are running low, it points to ways the customer can avoid overdraft fees.

“Every session is dynamic,” Choubey said. “The user is opting into us aggregating their banking and investing data. That’s what really allows us to give that micro, day-by-day instruction manual.”

The integration of shared services among banks, like peer-to-peer payments service Zelle, adds another potential user experience hurdle. Chris Ackroyd, director of product management at Zelle, said his team works with banks to allow customers to use Zelle as easily as possible, but banks have the ultimate say on how to embed the function within their apps.

For large banks, the influence of big tech platforms like Google and Amazon can’t be ignored, as customers begin to demand similar experiences from their banks. Despite concerns around the overreach of tech platforms, customers are increasingly asking for banking services to be intertwined with the social networking platforms they use every day, Shawn Rose, executive vice president and chief digital officer of Scotiabank, recently told Bank Innovation.

AppleAmazon and Google already provide bank-adjacent activities. We’ve learned pretty significantly from that industry,” he explained.

From a tech vendor perspective, banks are slowly becoming more attuned to customer expectations. James Lanyon, vice president of strategy and innovation at digital agency T3, which works with banks and retailers on mobile apps, said banks have gotten better about pushing relevant offers to customers. The goal, he argued, should be to provide value to the customer.

“If I’m Chase or I’m Wells Fargo, I’m no longer thinking about how to just get accounts,” Lanyon said. “I’m no longer thinking about how to get people mortgages. I’m thinking about how to make people better investors.” 

As banks evolve their mobile features, the ability to personalize banking apps based on customer data will be key.

“Being predictive in nature is going to create that better personalization without adding feature bloat or clicks,” Lanyon said. “There’s going to be a few [banks] that probably do a good job of it, and then it’s going to be a big catch-up for the rest, [including] the regional and credit union spheres.”

Bank Innovation Ignite, which will take place on March 2-3 in Seattle, is a must-attend industry event for professionals overseeing financial technologies, product experiences and services. This is an exclusive, invitation-only event for executives eager to learn about the latest innovations. Request your invitation.