Why Legacy Banks Have Mobile App Advantages

Entersekt: Legacy Banks' Mobile App Advantages

A consumer’s sense of security and trust can be a funny, even unpredictable thing, especially when it comes to payments, banking and commerce.

Maybe it’s the reputation of a brand that lowers the mental resistance to inputting payment and personal details on a mobile device to complete a transaction. Maybe it’s more about convenience and the back-of-mind knowledge that fraudulent purchases would be refunded. Maybe it’s a devil-may-care attitude — hey, everyone eventually gets hacked — or perhaps it’s a series of digital bells and whistles, all those ads and symbols that at least give the perception of security.

Maybe it’s just those two mimosas the consumer had at brunch, which served to loosen up his natural conservative tendencies.

No matter the reason, when it comes to banks and their mobile efforts, financial institutions operate at an advantage, as they have customer relationships that span years or decades — generations, in some cases — and are often perceived as stable, all-but-eternal institutions, not the fly-by-night operators that regularly seem to pop up in the digital economy.

Trust Advantage

Translating that trust advantage into mobile market share, however, is another matter entirely, as was discussed in a recent PYMNTS interview with Gerhard Oosthuizen, chief technology officer for Entersekt, a South Africa-based FinTech firm that focuses on mobile authentication and app security software.

Part of the reason is the different ways in which consumers view security and the risks involved with using mobile apps to handle their finances, from deposits to money transfers and other associated services. “Mobile banking can be a lot more secure than internet banking,” he said, thanks in part to all the research and investment that’s been put into the mobile channel in recent years to gain consumer loyalty and trust, and also because “each app is in its own sandbox.”

But even a relatively high level of security does not mean a total level of security — or that everyone involved in the development of mobile banking apps are on the same page when it comes to authentication and fraud prevention. Banking customers, he said, tend to think all those apps “need to be built by young, cool kids straight out of university” — not an unreasonable assumption, given that the young tend to be much more familiar with, and comfortable within, digital life than older generations.

Good UX vs. Security

That said, Oosthuizen noted, those younger developments often tend to focus on “good UX and the consumer experience — in terms of what works. They don’t necessarily have a [deep] security background. They might want to innovate, but take shortcuts on security.” And any security misstep in the development of mobile banking apps can backfire in the future, which in turn can lead to financial and reputational damage to the brand, and a loss of mobile customers.

Consumers, too, play a role in the wider mobile banking security picture.

That’s because, for reasons that likely have to do with the deeper parts of human nature, they feel as though “pain must be associated with security,” he said. That can translate into those types of consumers not completely trusting a well-built, intuitive mobile banking app that is indeed secure, but seems too easy to use — or, if you prefer, too good to be true. After all, for many consumers, the perception is that “three locks on the door are better than one good lock.”

Market Security

What are banks to do to overcome all that?

For starters, Oosthuizen said, “they need marketing to change those minds and perceptions.” And that marketing should build on the inherent advantages of legacy financial institutions. “Banks have that base of trust, and the ability to engage with customers,” he added. As well, banks can do that marketing at places where customers manage their finances — at ATMs or inside branches, for instance.

The main ideal message, at least in its most simplified form? “You can trust your bank and you can trust the banking app,” Oosthuizen said. “A lot of people worry about the big tech firms, the Amazons and Facebooks, but a lot of people still have trust in their banks. Consumers might view “banks as slow, but at least they are secure.”

That trust advantage goes only so far if a bank deploys a mobile app that is clunky, he said. Their mobile apps must be “nimble,” and not prone to being out-of-date soon after release. And that means “old banks need to partner with FinTech to create innovation,” Oosthuizen noted. “If banks cannot get that right, they will be disrupted.”

In so many ways, including for security, the mobile app world is still the Wild West, where experimentation is high and consumer loyalty is often fickle. That may favor the younger players, but the legacy financial institutions still have more than a few things going for them.


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