Elan On The Four Pillars Of A Successful Mobile Card App

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The plastic card, by necessity, is giving way to digital cards, and mobile apps are bringing card-not-present transactions, increasingly, to mobile devices.

In an interview with PYMNTS, Jennifer Miller, senior vice president, head of partner strategy at Elan, said the shift to mobile card apps demands careful attention from financial institutions (FIs) as they design new products that are secure and flexible.

Cardholders are demanding more personalization from their mobile card apps — and greater control over the transactions themselves, in DIY fashion, which enables them to customize when and how they interact with FIs, she said.

“Today, more than ever, consumers expect easy service and experiences in the palms of their hands — and financial services is no outlier in that trend,” she told PYMNTS.

She noted that mobile app use is up double-digit percentages as of April, when the pandemic shifted so much of everyday life online.

She said there are a number of basic pillars that should be in place in order to have an effective mobile card app, where cardholders and issuers interact. Those apps, she said, should provide security and fraud prevention, transaction insights, “seamless DIY” and customized engagement.

“Consumers expect to service their accounts with activities like profile setups, making payments and helping manage their accounts with dispute resolution and fraud alerts,” she said. “Security continues to be at the forefront of consumers’ minds.”

She pointed to joint research between Elan and PYMNTS that found roughly 70 percent of consumers with mobile card apps consider real-time transaction alerts to be among the most important features for mobile card apps.

The shift toward interactive, joint (that is, consumers working with FIs) management of accounts means consumers are embracing digital DIY, said Miller. The days of hanging on the phone, navigating through prompts and waiting on hold are in the rearview mirror.

“They want the ability to service that account wherever they are, and whenever they want to be able to conduct a particular activity,” she said — using device screens to turn cards on and off, or to redeem rewards.

Elan also is seeing an uptake in digital DIY for more complex servicing activities like transaction disputes and collections.

Card members are happy to take ownership of servicing activities as long as their mobile apps, and the experiences enabled by those apps, are intuitive.

But there is no one-size-fits-all approach to an optimal mobile card experience, said Miller. The amount of information — and granular insight — users want about their accounts and transactions may vary from person to person.

For example, an alert about a duplicate transaction might be appreciated by one card member as a red flag, but may be viewed by someone else as a nuisance in the event that the transactions were intentional.

The Balancing Act

In an age where so much everyday commerce and financial management is done on the small screen, context is increasingly important to consumers, said Miller. FIs must be ever mindful of the balancing act between convenience and security, maintained Miller — a consumer experience that demands diligent design and iterative testing (with constant feedback). At Elan, said Miller, “among the strategies we employ is: Whenever we are delivering a new experience to the mobile app, we compare the experience not only to other credit card and mobile services experiences, but to non-banking mobile experiences, too.”

And as fraudsters attack FIs and consumers with increasing focus on card-not-present transactions, Miller said creating “watertight security” around the mobile app is paramount in the battle against illegal account access, with personalized alerts that can prompt consumers to verify that they are indeed accessing various services and account data.

There are choices that should be made about what level of alerts consumers prefer, said Miller. One card member might want to get an alert every time a transaction is made on their account. Another card member might only want an alert if that transaction is deemed as suspicious by the issuer.

Cardmembers will continue to use mobile banking services and cards, predicted Miller, “if their information is protected and safeguarded, and that there are not only foundational elements within digital properties that enable that security, but also back-end services that support alerts and capabilities.”