Chase and U.S. Bank tied for the top spot, with scores of 69 out of 100, followed by Wells Fargo (68), Bank of America (66) and Citi (64). The scoring is based on 37 individual criteria measuring across categories like transactional functionality, service features, enrollment and login, and marketing and sales.
All of the banks studied fell into a scoring range of meeting or exceeding expectations, with each improving slightly over last year. What they do well is provide account information and a wide set of transactions across a range of devices and platforms, including the mobile Web and apps.
Where they need improvement is in offering self-service features, money management tools and cross-selling of other products, according to Forrester. Most banks’ customers, for instance, can't report fraud or dispute card transactions via mobile. They also can't get budgeting tools.
By contrast, smaller banks like BBV Compass, PNC and USAA already offer those sorts of money management features in their iPhone and Android apps. One area where banks have made strides is in app enrollment and login -- one of the biggest stumbling blocks for any type of app.
Most banks have features like the ability to save names, and BofA allows customers to enroll in online and mobile banking directly from its apps without having to do so first on a PC. Separately, Citi in its newly updated apps is piloting Mobile Snapshot, which enables users to see balances and recent transactions prior to login.
The more banks strive to offer greater convenience, however, the more it seems they push the boundaries on security. That's still a big concern among those who are not using mobile banking, according to a Federal Reserve report on the topic earlier this year. Seven in 10 who don't use mobile banking cited security as one of the reasons they don’t do so.
At the same time, the major U.S. banks are facing competition not only from smaller banks making mobile innovations but from “potential disruptors” like popular personal finance apps Budgt and MoneyWiz. And that’s not to mention tech giants like Google, Apple and Amazon continuing to test mobile wallet and payment services.
An Accenture study released Tuesday found among younger consumers in particular a greater willingness to consider banking with major technology players if they provided banking services. Among those 18-34, for example, 40% would consider banking with Google, and 34% with Apple.
The Forrester report faulted banks for not doing enough to gain new customers through their mobile properties. It called marketing and sales “almost nonexistent” with the exception of U.S. Bank, which advertises loans and lines of credit within the “transfers” screen of its app.
None of the banks, however, allow users to apply for a product through an iPhone app. Still, given the premium on providing a streamlined service on mobile devices, it doesn't make a lot of sense to clog an app with banners or interstitials pitching financial products. Banks are better served with getting the user experience right than swamping mobile customers with loan or credit card offers when they're just trying to check their balance.