4 Ways Top Banking Apps Create Great In-App Experiences for their Users

Jack Maden
Written by Jack Maden
March 03, 2020

We all know that banking is going mobile. One recent survey showed that more than 90% of U.S. consumers had used a mobile device to check their account balance within the last 30 days. 76% are now able to apply for personal loans or new accounts via mobile devices. Even baby boomers are getting in on the action, with 79% reporting that they understand the value of mobile banking services.

To keep up with the voracious consumer appetite for mobile banking, financial services firms are building vast portfolios of mobile banking apps to support particular services or functions. Major banks today may offer as many as 20 dedicated mobile apps. Not all of them, however, are easy for consumers to use, and not all support seamless cross-channel experiences – a must in today’s highly competitive customer service landscape.

When mobile banking apps work as well as they should, they offer numerous benefits to financial institutions and consumers alike. These range from time savings – no more waiting in line at the ATM to make a deposit – to increased operational efficiency and lower costs. Mobile apps can also provide banks with a treasure trove of customer analytic data that can help them understand the needs, wants, and headaches of their clientele. With push notifications and automated alerting, they can dramatically increase the rate and speed at which fraudulent activities are detected.

When mobile banking apps fail, however, they cause confusion, frustration, and headaches – and increasingly, lead to customer churn. For instance, nearly 65% of customers in one survey reported that they’d be willing to switch to a bank that offered better mobile banking or check deposit services. And 40% of customers abandon a new mobile app partway through the initial onboarding process.

The reality is that the gulf between the front runners and average performers among mobile banking apps is immense. When they’re well-designed and carefully implemented, apps have the potential to do far more than simply streamline routine banking tasks. Instead, they can revolutionize consumer financial health.

To learn what sets four standout banking apps apart from the crowd – and what the digital teams behind them have done differently – read on.

1. Voice search is becoming part of the mobile banking experience

Speech recognition technologies like those employed in Apple’s Siri and Google Assistant are getting better and better every year. As their ability to understand queries accurately and respond appropriately improves, it’s no surprise that leading banks would want to offer their benefits to customers. Now bank customers can draw on tools powered by natural language processing to check their account balances, transaction histories, and even initiate payments on the go, just by uttering a few simple words.

Australian banking and financial services leader Westpac has integrated Alexa’s speech-recognition skills along with those of Siri’s into its award-winning mobile banking app. Not only can Westpac customers send payments using voice commands alone, but they can quickly check their account balances verbally on trusted devices without having to undertake the full sign-in procedure.

While it hasn’t hit mainstream banking apps quite yet, we expect to see AI-enabled voice recognition capabilities being used to enhance security on mobile banking platforms within the coming year. Banks are already testing technologies that can confirm a customer’s identity by matching their unique “voiceprint” to an individual profile in call centers, and the technology should soon be coming to mobile, where it will offer enhanced security along with speedier responses to typical requests.

2. Cutting through the noise and clutter of popup “hints” and “suggestions” with a virtual assistant that’s helpful and intuitive

Erica, Bank of America’s new virtual assistant, is garnering rave reviews from both mobile banking UI designers and longtime bank customers. Many mobile banking apps offer user training tools that obscure important interface features or simply make the app’s overall design seem chaotic or untidy. Erica issues bill reminders, alerts customers to credit score changes, confirms refunds, monitors recurring payments, searches past transactions, and more. She does all of this within simple, easy-to-read text bubbles that provide just the right amount of information at just the right time.

In particular, Erica’s transaction search feature is popular. Whereas bank customers who want to know how much they’re spending in a particular category used to have to add up the individual transactions by hand, Erica can not only tell how many transactions there are, but can total them automatically. And while many other banking apps offer text-based “help” in the form of pop-ups that block the user’s view of the interface features they’re trying to explain, Erica’s advice is simple, streamlined, and easy to read because the interface is clean and well designed.

3. When less is more: more intuitive form design breaks up questions for simpler display

Mobile banking app designers are always challenged to present – and request – large amounts of information on a small screen. Chase’s revamped Mobile Banking app breaks up all the forms it contains into shortened segments, decreasing user error and reducing overwhelm. Users can customize the order in which accounts appear in the app interface, and each account is presented in the form of a card that offers no more information than the account’s name and its balance. Users must tap each card to get more information about the account.

This technique, called progressive disclosure, allows users to feel in control of the information they’re being offered, reduces visual clutter, and increases form completion accuracy. It also results in greater personalization, since users are able to choose how much information they see, and the order in which it appears.

4. With facial recognition technology, banks are doubling down on ease of use and security

When the built-in facial recognition features of the iPhone 11, millions of mobile users now have a device capable of identifying individual human faces by creating a 30,000-point “depth map” that won’t be fooled if you get a new hairstyle – or try out some new glasses. UK-based HBSC, an international leader in commercial banking, is already pioneering the use of this technology to simplify account access for its business banking customers in 24 countries. The app permits facial-recognition-verified customers to check their account balances and review recent transactions but requests an additional security token before authorizing payments.

Mobile banking apps are changing the game in financial services, saving customers’ time, lowering banks’ costs and making routine tasks safer, easier – and even more fun. The front runners are beginning to take advantage of mobile devices’ unique native capabilities, but they’re also staying true to time-tested best practices in form and user interface design.

What can your digital team do to position your bank’s mobile app among these leaders? How can you ensure that your own customers’ experiences will improve their relationship with your financial institution? Download our new e-guide, 15 Insights for Finance & Insurance Businesses Seeking to Boost Conversions and Loyalty Online, to learn more.

Topics: User experience
Back to Blog Home
Get Started

Ready to discover your Digital Experience Score?

Request a demo to speak to a Decibel expert and see DXS® on your website or app today.

Request Demo