January 27, 2014

As I discussed in my earlier article, “Moving From Mobile Apps to a Mobile Platform,” a mobile application platform (MAP) will be a critical component to banks’ success as we move into 2014. Banks are attacking two of the biggest challenges related to mobile banking; business customers and employees. Coupled with the original thrust of providing consumers with mobile banking apps, these two new constituencies will be best supported by a single platform that can provide the infrastructure necessary to make mobile a success for all. Who wants to buy or build separate platforms to support each of these groups of end-users? There are simply too many commonalities between the groups to ignore, and leverage across this larger mass of end-users is inevitable and smart. Consolidating to a single platform that can be tweaked for each type of customer is a winning proposition, but most importantly is a benefit for the end-user. A bank will be able to deliver a superior experience for all involved, from the businesses that bank with them to the internal IT staff that supports the solution and the senior executives that ultimately authorize and pay for the approach.

Check Out the First Article In This Series On Mobile Platforms:[Moving from Mobile Apps to a Mobile Platform]

Robb Gaynor, Malauzai Software
Robb Gaynor, Malauzai Software

Mobilizing Businesses - The Next Step in Mobile Banking

Businesses are craving mobile banking. All too many of them are using the mobile channel, but have been relegated to using a consumer offering just slightly enhanced for their unique needs and requirements. Business deposit and loan accounts drive immense profits for the industry, and they warrant their own flavor of mobile banking. Businesses have a very compelling reason to embrace mobile, as there are abundant opportunities for them and their banking partners to further automate their relationship and create efficiencies in how they interact. Simple examples, such as mobilizing a CFO out in the field where they can approve payments in seconds while freeing them from the confines of their desk and their desktop computer, clearly demonstrate immediate advantages. The faster payments flow, the faster businesses can keep the wheels of commerce in overdrive as they relentlessly pursue efficiency and growth.

Business mobile banking also represents a source of fee-based revenue for banks of all sizes. Extending the mobile channel to include features that add enough value to a business to warrant payment for them can further enhance self-service, fee-based revenue opportunities. Increased timeliness and decreases in payment settlement are obviously valuable for everyone involved –businesses will pay for this. Imagine if a business could utilize the mobile channel to further automate the receivables process. Collecting their revenue is critical and shortening the time between contract and payment is the lifeblood of every business. Using advanced mobile features such as automated mobile invoicing and streamlined mobile payments could dramatically shorten the time it takes a business to get paid. By shortening the receivables process by as little as 15 percent, a bank can have a profound impact on a business’ ability to grow and prosper, adding up to significant savings on a macro basis. This is one of many reasons that business customers need a robust mobile channel that caters to their unique needs.

In previous incarnations of self-service automation, technology vendors have unfortunately decided to service businesses and consumers with separate platforms. Yes, their needs are different, but not so much so to justify entirely different solutions. Some vendors even have separate products for different types of businesses—now that is truly added and unwanted complexity. In many cases it was technologically expedient to build a separate platform for each group, but created an artificial fracture for end-users and was terribly expensive for the banking industry.

There is a natural overlap between a bank’s business and consumer customer base. It is common for business owners to maintain personal accounts with the same bank, and yet, they cannot see all of these accounts in one mobile app. Serving business and consumer accounts from a single platform is not only better at delivering needed features to business owners, but is ultimately more cost-effective. I believe up to 75 percent of the features available in the mobile channel hold value for both parties, even including features such as wire initiation and advanced information reporting. And once merged, a bank can have combined analytics and reporting to greatly enhance their ability to bring these groups together to understand both how they differ in usage patterns and how they are the same.

Expect 2014 to be the year business mobile takes center-stage. Businesses will be given access to a mobile channel that is purpose-built for their needs, no longer having to settle for a "hopped-up" consumer offering. The banks will benefit from happier customers and new revenue generating opportunities. And the technologists that support them will have access to a MAP that dramatically simplifies the process. MAPs are not a panacea or future reality. They are here today, and they can help banks realize their goals of making businesses as happy with mobile as they have their retail customers.

Robb Gaynor is the chief product officer of Austin, Texas-based Malauzai Software.