How to Build a Better Banking App
Mobile has completely changed the way we manage and access our money. From text message reminders to pay our bills, to automatic saving, mobile has undoubtedly upended the banking industry. In fact, Google found that 41% of people use mobile to check their finances, with 82% logging in weekly late last year. Mobile banking apps have some of the best retention around, but a great mobile experience is still crucial for success.
A gap exists between companies who built the app without the customer’s goal in mind and those those who build it to improve their customers’ financial experiences. The latter companies will continue to reap the rewards of our mobile-first world, while the others will continue to see declining foot traffic and sub-par digital results.
But what takes a banking app from good to great? There are standard best practices all banking and finance apps can follow to start. To help set you on the right track, we analyzed five banking apps from well known institutions and digital-first platforms to understand what makes a great financial app, and identified first-hand what works and what can be improved.
To complete our research, we leveraged Apptentive’s Public Reviews tool to learn what real customers say about each app, along with having our team members use the apps. For our research, we looked at Bank of America, US Bank, Mint, Digit, and Wells Fargo. This post covers what companies should think about when designing or adding features to their mobile banking experience.
1. Convenience is key
Mobile banking apps are meant for on-the-go moments, and need a user interface that keeps the goal in mind. Checking account balances, sending money to individuals, and transferring funds are common activities that we all need access to, regardless of where we are. For example, US Bank’s app provides an easy option to deposit checks, Digit automates savings, and Mint helps create a snapshot of your financial well being.
Let’s look at two specific examples.
US Bank’s app streamlines frequent banking activities by using a simple, but effective slide-out menu. It’s easy to check your account balance, transfer funds, and set up payments from the app. Each portion of the app has an intuitive user flow that is is easy to navigate. The app also has a few bonus features like being able to deposit checks from your phone for a small fee, which is a huge help for customers who can’t make it to the bank branch during business hours.
Digit is a mobile-first financial tool that makes saving money incredibly convenient by automatically transferring small amounts of cash from your checking account when you can afford it. The tool takes convenience to the next level by making saving money something you don’t even have to think about. Digit’s app is doesn’t have a ton of features, but is complemented with a texting service to withdraw funds Digit has saved and check your account balance. The app is a great way to get a snapshot of your saving history, and Digit capitalizes on the importance of convenience for mobile banking customers.
2. Strong security is expected
Having your financial information at your fingertips comes with a catch: security. It’s imperative that banking apps have a robust sign-in process to protect customer’s information.
Fingerprint authentication is the latest in making signing in both secure and convenient. The Wells Fargo app recently added the functionality, and all four other apps we took a look at also supported fingerprint sign-on.
3. Keep it simple
More often than not, mobile app users look for a great experience to complete a small number of their most habitual banking activities. Google’s research late last year found 82% of people have turned to their banking apps to check balances and transfer funds. Through our research and own experiences, we’ve found that simplicity and ease of use is key for banking apps. Mint and Bank of America’s apps do a great job building out simple interfaces that do a few banking activities really well, rather than adding functionality for everything.
Let’s take a deeper look.
Mint is an online budgeting tool that helps customers get a quick snapshot of their spending habits over time. The app allows you to set budgets across various spending categories, and will alert you when you incur a finance charge or hit your spending limit. The app is a great way to stay on-budget with automated reminders, and is easy to set up with your existing banks.
The dashboard in the app highlights the most important findings from your spending habits, including upcoming bills and recent transactions. Overall, the app keeps is simple and focuses on the goal of helping you manage your budget proactively.
Bank of America
Bank of America’s app makes it easy to manage your accounts throughout the signin process. Prior to signing in, you can find your closest branch or contact support, which are two common searches. Once you’ve logged in, the necessary info is listed clearly for your account.
It’s easy to see your balance, recent transactions and due dates. The Bank of America app makes it easy to complete common banking actions, like transferring money or paying a bill, but doesn’t add unnecessary features.
4. Make support only a click away
Offering a way for mobile customers to get in contact with your team is key, especially as more people rely on their phone for everyday banking needs. An open line of communication to your support team or sending an in-app mobile survey to your most loyal app customers goes a long way in building loyalty and trust with your customers.
Out of the five apps we looked at, Bank of America has, by far, the best support channel. It was easy to not only get in contact with support, but you can also leave feedback for the app if you found a bug or had a feature request.
All the other apps included a support page, but most were a bit bare-bones, and directed people to call support rather than providing support in-app. With 82% of finance app customers logging in at least once a week, offering a robust support is key for mobile apps, and is a strategy that should be adopted for mobile success.
Banking apps enjoy some of the highest retention rates in the business, and serve as an extension of their local banking branch for customers. The consistent use cases for finance apps makes it imperative that the app experience is convenient, secure, easy to use, and has great support.
What other banking apps do you find most useful? What additional requirements do you have of banking apps? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!