Mobile Banking Leaves Something to Be Desired, Consumers Say

The MagnifyMoney report noted iOS users tend to have more complaints about apps not leveraging the latest hardware capabilities.

mobile banking and magnifymoney

Bank applications have room for improvement, as across all institutions the average rating was 3.8 out of 5.0, with traditional banks averaging 3.7, online direct banks best at 4.0, and credit unions at 3.9, according to a survey by MagnifyMoney.

From an operating system (OS) standpoint, the report indicated Google Android users are more satisfied.

Across banks, credit unions, and online direct institutions, Android users were significantly more satisfied, with an average 4.0 rating versus 3.1 for Apple iOS users.

The report noted iOS users tend to have more complaints about apps not leveraging the latest hardware capabilities.

Nick Clements, co-founder of MagnifyMoney, told eWEEK the most surprising survey result was 9 of the top 10 rated apps used an interface from an external app developer, Digital Insight.

"Banks often have a debate: should they build their technology in house or outsource. Most large banks tend to do more work in-house, whereas smaller banks and credit unions tend to outsource," Clements said. "In the case of mobile banking apps, it looks like a highly specialized and focused provider is doing a much better job of creating workable user interfaces and customer experiences."

He said while he doesn’t expect large banks to start outsourcing, the need for good app designers and user experience managers will only become more important for banks as they look to catch up, and ultimately differentiate, based upon their apps.

Clements explained that consumers certainly have security concerns, and they tend to increase any time a massive security breach occurs, like Home Depot or Target.

However, those fears reduce every year, as more people recognize how technology can actually help protect themselves from fraud.

"When a fraud occurs, it is critical to detect and report that fraud as soon as possible," he said. "By being able to carry your bank with you, consumers can get alerts instantly for abnormal transactions. And, they can see their balances throughout the day, making it easy to detect abnormal activity as quickly as possible."

Among the 10 lowest rated apps only two were from credit unions, while seven were from traditional banks. Only one traditional bank’s app ranked among the top 10 highest rated.

"The most important thing that banks can do is get into a mindset of listening to real-time customer feedback, developing fixes quickly and releasing quickly," Clements said. "The old world of banking--single large releases with a lot of elapsed time between releases--has got to go."

Capital One has the best app among big banks, while Citibank lags. Among the 10 largest banks in the country, the average rating ranged from a high of 4.1 for Capital One to a low of just 3.1 for Citibank.

"When looking at the comments, the biggest frustrations are when basic functionality doesn’t work," Clements said. "Banks need to make it easier to log in. Check deposits need to work. And when there are issues or bugs, banks need to relentlessly focus on fixing and releasing the fix quickly. As we progress towards a truly digital banking world, customers will be less forgiving of mistakes."