First Data survey shows smartphones are shaping mobile banking

If credit unions need more evidence about the importance of offering mobile banking, another study concludes that consumers want it all--in the palms of their hands.

Consumers expect strikingly similar mobile and technology-powered experiences from financial institutions and businesses, and their expectations are fueled by skyrocketing smartphone use, according to a new study from Atlanta-based First Data.

"They expect a mobile banking app to be as easy to use as shopping online, for example. And they want to be able to pay for purchases with whatever method is most convenient to them," said First Data's executive summary.

Consumers expect three features in their Web-based shopping, payments, banking, and money management, the study found:

  • Seamlessness and control--the ability to connect related activities and move among multiple channels, both online and off, and from device to device.  This produces a simpler, more intuitive experience than previous payments and financial services experiences. About 71% of those surveyed expect real-time access to their financial accounts, rating this eight, nine or 10 on a 10-point scale. In the U.S., 76% had this expectation, one of the highest levels among countries in the survey. Nearly half said they would stop using a technology immediately if it was not intuitive, easy, and straightforward.
  • Tailored and personalized experiences. Consumers expect businesses they interact with to know them. They demand a tailored experience using information businesses have collected about them to their benefit. Roughly 58% expect their financial institution to do a better job in considering their individual circumstances. Nearly half want businesses to get better at targeting ads and offers to them.
  • Social and sharing.  Technology has changed how communication between businesses and consumers functions, shifting from top-down to peer-to-peer and even bottom-up. Social media and user-generated online content have increased consumers' span of influence. Half of global consumers surveyed post reviews online, more than half consult social media before making a purchase, and about half prefer working with companies that are smart about social media and technology.

What does this mean for credit unions? Credit unions pride themselves on how well they know and serve their members, but these findings suggest they must translate this knowledge into their real-time technology to be effective under the evolving expectations for personalized service, said the Credit Union National Association (CUNA).  Fostering service excellence is one of three components driving credit unions' national campaign, Unite for Good, which strives to achieve CUNA's strategic vision for credit unions, where "Americans choose credit unions as their best financial institution.

"When we talk about evolving consumer expectations, what we're really talking about is an expectation of higher levels of service and a drive toward simplicity, with the consumer at the center of it all," said Larry Drury, chief marketing officer at First Data.

"Much of this change in expectations is driven by the proliferation of smartphones, which have fundamentally altered how consumers around the world go about their daily lives. Understanding this impact on consumer behavior has profound implications for doing business today," Drury added.

First Data's online study surveyed nearly 4,000 consumers who had a bank account and either a debit or credit card in 10 markets, including the U.S.