There is hardly another industry that has been disrupted by the mobile evolution the way that banking has. In the US alone, the “mobile flavor” ranges from retrieving account balances over mobile optimized sites to mobile apps that have check deposit capabilities.
Bank of America and Chase were the first two major players to offer customers the ability to deposit checks from the privacy and convenience of their own homes, elevating customer service to a whole new level. One of the premier credit card issuers, American Express, launched their version of PayPal with the Serve platform (part of AmEx’s Enterprise Growth division) and have even taken aim at Square and other mobile processing startups by participating in the ISIS mobile wallet pilot program.
Customers equipped with smartphones and their bank’s app can easily locate the closest ATM, pay bills, contact customer service or conduct a variety of other transactions, all with a few taps on their phone/tablet and from virtually anywhere in the world. But it’s not just banks and credit card companies that have entered the mobile race. Insurance companies are also actively motivated to provide a better, real-time mobile experience for their clients. Liberty Mutual, Allstate, Geico, Progressive and State Farm are some of the biggest players who have launched apps for Android and the iPhone. These apps allow customers to conduct a variety of transactions, such as make payments, submit claims, produce digital proof of insurance and request road side assistance.
User generated content (UGC) has not quite made its way into mobile banking, but possible uses are easy to think of – locate the bank with the best reviews, best customer service, best interest rates, etc. as chosen by customers. As the adoption of mobile technology grows year over year, banks and insurance companies are figuring out ways to offer value-added services to their customers. Adding “the best of social (aka UGC)” into the mix will soon become table stakes, similar to what the review star logos have become in traditional ecommerce.
And it doesn’t stop there – institutions who embrace mobile and strive to build best in-class mobile experiences, and invite their customers to be part of the mobile community, can leverage UGC to identify their best (and worst) performing bank branches, insurance brokers, road side assistance partners and other services they may offer.
Key to building such a “mobile-optimized” community is going to be trust and security. With consumer Personally Identifiable Information (PII) at stake, banks and insurance companies must ensure that they create secure applications and pathways, leverage the latest security hardware, such as Trusted Platform Modules (TPMs) to prevent fraud and protect their clients’ privacy. Third party payment processors like Square and ISIS ensure that their transactions are secure and encrypted as well but are still considered a bit more ‘suspect’ than the big banks as they are newer to the market and not tied to just one institution. Here again is an opportunity for UGC to come in and help these companies garner positive publicity and trust by rating not the merchant or product but the payment method itself.
As customers are confronted with ever increasing means of mobile payments (tap, push, transfer, swipe, bump, beam…) and financial services. They will look to hear from people “like them” to ease their concerns. Consumers will leverage an instinct they’ve acquired in traditional desktop ecommerce. That is looking to the UGC of other consumers to validate their assumptions and answer their questions before they will do more than trust a mobile app, but trust one app completely.