ING Direct Canada foresees a world where the mobile channel dominates consumers' interactions with their financial institution, and is preparing accordingly.
The bank has been working with Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM on several mobile banking services using IBM's MobileFirst suite of solutions.
"People are using these devices for managing almost every part of their lives," says ING Direct Canada's CIO Charaka Kithulegoda. "The movement into managing the financial part of their lives has been a bit slower compared to retail, for example, but now they're starting to do it more and more in financial services as well."
ING Direct Canada is attempting to serve this shift in customer behavior in several ways. Firstly, Kithulegoda is quick to point to Orange Snapshot -- a mobile function that gives customers a complete view of all their accounts as well as bill payment and email money transfers in two clicks without a password -- as a rousing mobile success for the bank. Customers can register for Orange Snapshot through the bank's mobile app. In the two years the function has been available, Kithulegoda says about 80% of mobile banking customs have opted in for it.
More recently, the bank rolled out a service in the past nine months where customers can access account information within Facebook. Customers who opt-in to this app are able to view their account balances, history and pending transactions as well as receive account notifications as real time messages automatically pushed to them within Facebook. The bank plans to expand this application further to include transactions such as transfers, bill payments and email money transfers.
"In my opinion mobile banking and social have become intertwined with each other," explains Kithulegoda. "Facebook has, in its own right become a whole platform, it's not just a website anymore."
Kithulegoda says when it comes to any mobile service or function that "the primary consideration is security." However, he acknowledge that sometimes "security and convenience don't go together," as customer desire the ease-of-use of mobile apps but don't want to have to deal with an extensive log-in process.
In an attempt to solve that dilemma, ING Direct Canada is working on some newer mobile innovations currently being tested that may soon be rolled out to customers. Kithulegoda says the bank is running an internal pilot for voice-recognition authentication and is also exploring biometrics as a way for its customers to securely and conveniently log into mobile banking.
Biometrics and voice authentication "are very difficult to break," he notes. "My voice is my voice; it's difficult to duplicate that. There's still some technical cleanup we have to do, but it's looking very promising."
Ultimately, mobile banking is not just about creating cool apps, notes Kithulegoda, but serving the customer.
"You have to give the customers choice, whatever platform they want to interact with us, you have to give them that choice," he adds.