Wells Fargo (San Francisco) earned the top spot in a new ranking released Wednesday of the seven largest U.S. banks' mobile offerings.
Keynote Competitive Research, the industry analysis arm of San Mateo, Calif.-based internet and mobile cloud monitoring company Keynote Systems Inc., compiled its "mobile banking scorecard" based on nearly 100 criteria in four main categories, developed from user testing and research. Banks measured in the inaugural scorecard include -- in alphabetical order -- Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, Citibank, PNC Bank, US Bank and Wells Fargo. The company did not divulge the order of the rankings, other than that Wells Fargo garnered the higher score. The banks were measured in their text, mobile web, and smartphone app offerings.
Chris Musto, general manager of Keynote Competitive Research, said, by and large, banks have yet to fully harness the unique potential of mobile banking.
"We found that, in essence, banks took the most critical elements of online banking and ported them to the mobile environment," he said, before adding, "But mobile banking is beginning to emerge in its own right."
In particular, the report found that Wells Fargo and Chase excelled at differentiating their mobile offerings from online banking. Musto cited Chase's remote deposit capture capabilities for smartphones as one example. Wells Fargo also drew high marks for the ease of use and intuitiveness of its mobile banking apps.
"They created offerings that are especially easy to use," said Musto, such as a store locator that can show the user the closest branch to where they are located using the phone's gps system or allow them to search by address.
The scorecard found that text banking is perhaps the least developed offering relative to its potential. Two banks do not yet offer text banking, while the five that do each highlight the gaps in the others offerings, according to Keynote. For instance, only Wells Fargo offers a text-based branch locator. And only Chase offers real-time balance alerts with the ability to reply with an action, while only Bank of America allows customers to use text banking to search for deposit transactions. And none of the banks allow customers to initiate a funds transfer via text.
Brian Pearce, vice president and head of retail mobile banking at Wells Fargo's Internet Services Group, said the bank has made it a priority to focus on customer feedback and using that to tailor its mobile offerings accordingly.
"That's really paid off," said Pearce. "We've seen some great growth in the mobile channel," adding that Wells Fargo has about 6 million mobile customers.
"We're really please with the adoption, and we think it will continue to get more popular as the mobile lifestyle keeps emerging," he said.
Overall, the scorecard found that banks are still a long way from filling in all the gaps on core mobile banking tasks, but Musto praised the banks surveyed for "trying to figure out how to get the most out of mobile."
"For a large bank, mobile should be more than just a placeholder," he said.
An expansive report with scorecard analysis for the top 15 retail banks is scheduled to be issued in January 2012.