Mobile banking has been identified by banks in the Asia Pacific region as the top priority channel in 2012, according to an IDC Financial Insights report.
The study, Business Strategy: Have Leading Asia/Pacific Banks Raised the Standards for Mobile? reports that the region's banks are deploying their resources to this "channel of the future". Many are launching standout features and functionalities, ensuring growth in activity rates among customers, and better managing the technology requirements of this channel.
Mobile banking first started off with banks offering baseline functionalities that are similar to those found in PC-based online banking: transaction history, payment origination, and funds transfers, noted Michael Araneta, associate consulting and research director for IDC Financial Insights Asia/Pacific.
Today, mobile banking has caused a shift in the notion of what a banking channel is. "A channel was effectively owned, managed, designed, and controlled by the bank. The bank itself ensured that channels worked in alignment with its own conditions, including processes, workflows, and channel strategies," said Araneta.
Now, the power has shifted to the customer who owns, manages, and controls the device at hand. "This means that the banks' mobile strategies need to keep in mind customers and customer preferences more than ever," said Araneta.
Araneta pointed out that near field communications (NFCs) and mobile wallets are two areas that banks will be pressurised to respond to, if they wish to be counted as leading figures for mobile banking.
"However, in most markets, NFC is slow to reach critical mass and may never reach such market prevalence. If the NFC models being proposed are not transparent and clearly beneficial for the bank, then the bank may find it better to pursue alternative models of next-generation payment technologies," he said.
On the other hand, the emergence of mobile wallet alternatives may require banks to have a well thought-out strategy, especially if these mobile wallets present compelling offers and reward programmes for consumers moving forward.
"Rather than focus on launching their own mobile wallets, banks should aim to work well with various existing mobile wallets, so that they can influence their customers through them," said Araneta.
This IDC Financial Insights report also highlights the technology considerations crucial for banks as they launch their mobile banking offerings. Firstly, there still appears to be no industry convergence on a single model or platform for mobile banking.
Consequently, banks are leaving the mobile Web versus native app debate unresolved, and are instead striving to offer both. Secondly, many vendors crowd the mobile space, which suggests that the market will consolidate soon. IDC Financial Insights suggest that banks follow the lead of their main core provider or look for a vendor that supports multiple channels, not just mobile.
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