Mobile Banking On Rise, Financial Giants Deliver

Chase-AppChase, Citi and USAA ranked as the top bank or credit card brands when it comes to mobile services, according to a new study. On the brokerage side, Charles Schwab, ETrade Financial and Fidelity received top marks in the analysis by research firm Corporate Insight in its inaugural “Mobile Monitor” report.

Among asset management providers, TIAA-CREF and Vanguard were deemed the leading mobile brands.

The study evaluated financial service mobile offerings based on various criteria, including the range of devices they support, ease of use, transaction capabilities and real-time features, like streaming quotes for brokerage tools. The report in particular points to iPad apps as a key to mobile leadership in the financial services area, with each of the category leaders except TIAA-CREFF providing a custom offering for the Apple tablet.

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ETrade and Fidelity are credited with doing an especially good job of repurposing their iPhone apps for the iPad, while others, including Citi, Fidelity and Vanguard, have added graphical displays not available through other devices. Corporate Insight expects to see more tablet enhancements this year as the devices proliferate among U.S. consumers.

The log-in process is a key test for any mobile financial service, and many are still in need of improvement.

With account balances and recent transaction information driving the most traffic to mobile platforms, the report advises firms to make this information easy to retrieve. “Banks such as Bank of America (honorable mention) and USAA combine balances and activity on one screen, a smart design that minimizes navigation through a mobile network,” it stated. 

The report also emphasizes that consumers increasingly expect financial institutions to provide the same transactional options via mobile as on their Web sites. Peer-to-peer payments continue to move from company sites to their mobile platforms, and the ability to make deposits via mobile is growing in popularity. Conversely, services such as linked accounts and recurring transfers or payments have not caught on with mobile users. 

For brokerages, providing sophisticated, full-screen charts is one of the capabilities that set the top brands apart from the rest. The report says brokerage apps should also allow users to add comparisons and technical indicators. Schwab was recognized for doing the best job overall in relation to adapting charts for the mobile screen.

The report, however, said brokerages still have room to improve when it comes to mobile trading platforms. ETrade and TD America were seen as the top performers in this regard, offering advanced trading options and futures, among other features. Aside from advanced transactions, the report noted that all of the top bank and card brands offer basic SMS banking.

According to KPMG’s annual Consumers and Convergence survey released in December, a third of U.S. consumers have used their mobile device for banking, up from only 19% last year and 9% in 2008. However, most respondents to the survey (57%) said they still prefer to use a computer or bank in a branch.

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