Just a few short years after the launch of the Apple® iPad®, tablet devices have hit the mainstream. If you walk into a coffee shop or airport today you will often see a third or more of the people using a tablet, and industry estimates forecast that almost half of U.S. Internet users will be using tablets by year-end.
Research indicates that people are interested in banking from these devices. The 2012 Fiserv Consumer Trends Survey showed that 48 percent of current tablet owners had used the device to access online banking services, and 64 percent of future tablet owners said they planned to do so.
Many financial institutions recognize that the rise of tablet is significant and are looking into ways to support this increasingly popular digital channel. However, financial institutions should be prepared for the three distinct challenges they face as they build a strategy for tablet banking.
Challenge #1: Device Proliferation and Multiple Operating Systems
Tablets come in many varieties and sizes, including the Apple iPad and iPad mini, the Amazon Kindle® Fire e-reader and the Samsung Galaxy Tab™. The tablet platforms utilized by each of these technology providers have unique considerations that impact the development of a tablet strategy. For example, Apple devices use the proprietary iOS platform, while the Android platform supports a range of different devices with varying screen dimensions, as well as a number of different operating system versions. Similar to smartphones, tablet operating systems are subject to frequent upgrades that require financial institutions to have robust enterprise processes to maintain compatibility with each operating system version.
Challenge #2: Providing a Consistent yet Tailored User Experience
Consumers access banking information and transact using multiple channels, and they expect information to be accurate, up-to-date and consistent across all channels, at all times. Yet they also require tailored user experiences – specialized experiences that encompass the right functionality delivered on each device, optimized for the attributes of the device and the context in which it is used. For example, due to its small screen size and typically “on the go” context of use, consumers are not likely to pull out their mobile phone and sit down on their couch to create a budget, but they might very well do so using their tablet.
While tablet experiences should be distinct from mobile or online, consideration must be given to how the experiences across digital devices will be consistent and intuitive. Users expect things like account and transaction information and the bank’s brand to be consistent across mobile, online and tablet channels. Tablet banking must bring functionality, account and institutional information together into a seamless user experience while also fulfilling consumer expectations to utilize the unique attributes of a tablet.
Challenge #3: Managing Platform Services
Financial institutions need to consider everything behind the tablet interface (see Figure 1). This includes customer care and enrollment, risk and security and reporting and analytics – key attributes for succeeding in the highly-regulated financial services industry. This requires establishing processes and policies for the channel by addressing how to best enroll and support first-time digital bankers with no digital credentials, manage security and privacy within tablet banking and across channels as well as defining what reporting is needed.
Given the challenges related to launching a tablet strategy, what steps should a financial institution take to implement support for the tablet channel? To solidify a tablet channel strategy, financial institutions should:
1. Understand Digital Banking Needs – It is important for financial institutions to understand the distinct ways consumers use tablets – including where they do so, the ‘tone’ of the interactions and the context. Consumers approach the tablet channel differently than the mobile and online channel and expect a specialized experience unique to tablets. Financial institutions should evaluate how tablet banking is perceived by distinct consumer segments, either by conducting their own research or analyzing partner or industry information on this topic. Aligning tablet banking to support the ways consumers prefer to use the devices will allow financial institutions to optimize the channel.
2. Optimize the User Experience with Apps –Some financial institutions have chosen to provide a browser-based tablet experience, essentially a “tablet-optimized” version of their online banking website. While this approach is often less expensive than developing a dedicated tablet app, it can also be quite limiting. Navigation can be clunky, as most websites are not designed with touch navigation in mind, and there is typically no integration of complementary tools such as calculators. Browser users also cannot take advantage of popular capabilities, such as remote deposit capture, that rely on the tablet camera.
Consumers expect tablet banking to support gestural and tactile navigation and input, using fingers to drag, slide and swipe the screen, according to Fiserv research. Tablet-specific banking apps should provide a rich experience that also makes use of the larger display than that provided on smartphones, as well as access to interactive tools such as calculators and calendars. Financial institutions that deliver an app-driven tablet banking user experience (versus a browser-based one) will be able to fulfill these consumer expectations and will encourage higher levels of adoption and satisfaction.
3. Consider Technology and Platform - The tablet channel must be seamlessly integrated with other digital channels – online and mobile - to support information access and management reporting. In addition, channel-specific processes and policies for authentication, security and customer care needs to be supported.
4. Think Beyond Software – Winning in tablet banking requires more than just getting the capability out there. Success includes ensuring the right level of adoption and usage amongst key target demographic segments, and ensuring that return on investment is measured. Positioning the tablet offering in the right way and marketing it to potential users is as important as having it in the first place.
By considering these tablet strategy components, financial institutions can capitalize on the growing trend of tablet banking. Delivering an app-driven, fully functional tablet experience that complements other digital channels will lead to higher levels of adoption and usage, satisfied customers and sustained financial institution performance.
Shirra Frost is the director of mobile marketing at Fiserv.