June 14, 2012

Tablet banking, mobile payments and financial services disruptors were among the big topics discussed at analyst and research firm Celent's fifth annual Banking Insight & Innovation Day.

The event, held in Charlotte, N.C., drew more than 100 bankers and financial services technology companies to go over the hot topics of the day. The overarching message? Change is coming to banking, and it's coming soon.

Bart Narter, head of the banking practice at Celent, said technology is evolving in a "faster and faster way," and the changes that have affected the financial services industry have only just begun. In many ways, noted Narter, banks should be well-equipped to handle this change.

"Banking is essentially digital," he said. "What is a bank account? It is essentially an entry into a computer system."

Narter also noted that the rapid proliferation of technology is leading to a crush of data, adding that 90 percent of the data that exists today was created in the last two years.

One of those technologies of recent creation is the tablet, and a panel of bakers opined about whether tablet banking is mobile, online, neither or a little of both.

Celent Senior Analyst Jacob Jegher, who moderated the panel, offered that "the tablet will act as a catalyst to the redesign on online banking" due to the rich content and functionality it offers.

Jeff Easley, executive director of deposits product management at USAA said tablet banking offers the convenience of mobile -- you don't have to wait for it to load up, like on a PC -- but that it could really differentiate itself with PFM offerings designed specifically for that channel.

"There's huge potential in the tablet environment for PFM," Easley noted. "There are a lot more capabilities when you have a screen that size. Ultimately, we eon't even be calling it 'PFM' anymore, it will just be the way you access your bank account."

Easley added that about 8 percent of USAA's mobile traffic came from the iPad, and he expects that figure to grow.

Wells Fargo SVP and Head of Retail Mobile Banking Brian Pearce, during a separate panel on mobile banking and payments, noted that mobile channels are more secure than online banking.