While consumers and retail banks alike seem to have warmly embraced banking via mobile apps, the mobile revolution has yet to reach banking for business.
According to a report released earlier this year by JAVELIN, the number of weekly mobile banking users outnumbered weekly bank branch customers in the U.S. for the first time. Thirty percent of consumers reported using mobile banking weekly, while just 24 percent said they visited a bank branch with the same frequency. What’s more, the report estimated that 25 million customers made the switch to digital banking in 2015 alone and that 81 percent of U.S. adults will be banking on their phones by 2020.
Despite all this, research from Aite Group reported that business mobile banking services still lagged behind. Only 32 percent of the more than 1,000 companies surveyed in the U.S. said they did their banking via a mobile device. As it turns out, even the most popular banks have a business adoption rate of roughly 20 percent when it comes to mobile services.
In an effort to close this gap, banking solutions provider NCR Corporation recently released a new app that looks to help change that. The company rolled out Business Banking Mobile, a new app designed to help community financial institutions offer business banking customers a secure and mobile account management platform.
Dave Potterton, director of business banking at NCR, told PYMNTS in an interview that he believes banks can use many of the same principles and features that attract consumers to mobile banking options to win over business owners.
“The number one reason we built this solution is that companies and customers were asking for it,” Potterton said, attesting to the market for a reliable mobile business banking solution. “Especially for small or medium businesses, I think this is a similar use case to what we see on the retail side. People are on the go, and they need to do things like approve payroll and keep their business functioning, whether they are in or out of the office.”
PYMNTS recently caught up with Potterton to speak more about the state of mobile banking for business, the company’s new solution and what he sees in the future for business banking customers.
Common needs of businesses and consumers
According to research from the American Bankers Association, consumers have embraced mobile business banking because of the speed and convenience these services offer.
More than 50 percent of consumers surveyed reported they preferred mobile business banking to in-person transactions because they wanted to be able to check their balances on-demand, which most mobile banking apps allow. Fifty-eight percent said they used the apps to manage their bank accounts. These customers are also largely pleased with these mobile apps, with more than three-quarters of customers saying they are “highly satisfied” with their banking apps.
Potterton noted that many of these features and attributes that attract these consumers appeal to the needs of many commercial customers.
However, Potterton also acknowledged that, while some aspects of consumer banking solutions may appeal to businesses, many merchants and corporations need a different set of tools than consumers.
“I think companies want to use a solution like this for the same reason regular customers do — to be able to look at balances or get info about their account whenever they want,” he said. “But there’s also that next level, where businesses need things that consumers don’t.”
Among those features that are crucial for businesses are multi-factor authentication and other more robust security solutions, the ability to be able to toggle between different accounts simply and easily and the ability to make speedy payments from a mobile device, Potterton said.
Everyone into the mobile banking pool
While most businesses may not conduct their banking on smartphones or tablets at the moment, Potterton said he expects that to change in the near future as more companies embrace mobile technology in all aspects of their business, including their banking. He also said he expects more companies to offer increasingly advanced mobile features, such as voice banking capabilities.
“I think we’re going to see where it’s even less driven by the app itself and is centered around voice-driven commands, via something like [Apple’s] Siri or [Amazon’s] Alexa,” Potterton said. “You could authenticate by voice by saying something like, ‘Alexa, get me my balance,’ or some other voice command, and that’s obviously very convenient and easy to use.”
In order to satisfy customer expectations and demand, however, Potterton said it will be crucial for app providers to communicate with their business banking customers frequently to provide them with the features they want or need.
“We have advisory groups we talk to all the time when we’re building and updating these kind of solutions,” Potterton said. “When we were looking at our first solution out there, it was a lot of things that were expected, and now, as we try to build subsequent versions, we’re relying on their input to figure out what needs to be next.”
Potterton and his team have already collected feedback from trials and early users of the app for improvements and new capabilities that customers would like to see added in updates to the app, he said. He added that developers are already working to add new features to updates for the Business Banking Mobile solution, including real-time B2B payments and remote deposit capture.
If banks can communicate with companies and meet their expectations and the demands of their business, it may not be long before mobile solutions potentially dominate the business banking world as they do the consumer banking space.
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About The Tracker
The PYMNTS Digital Banking Tracker™ brings you the latest news, research and expert commentary from the FinTech and consumer banking space, along with the rankings of 256 companies serving or powering the digital banking sector.