3 Banks seek to adapt to mobile-first customers

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In the past several years, it’s become commonplace at industry conferences for executives to point to a handful of retail mobile experiences financial institutions should try to emulate to some extent.

Amazon, Starbucks, Spotify and Uber always make the cut. Believe it or not, popular dating app Tinder now has joined the fray.

Executives discuss the aforementioned companies in the same breath as digital banking experiences because mobile-first consumers are challenging banks to innovate quicker than they ever have.

Suresh Ramamurthi, the chairman and CTO at CBW Bank, said it best in the keynote speech to kick off the Bank Customer Experience Summit that millennials want things to happen at the speed of a Google search.

But that expectation is not limited to just one demographic as consumers of all ages expect simplicity and speed from mobile apps and devices.

That said, what can financial institutions do to keep pace?

USAA often is at the forefront of digital experiences because its unique place in the industry forces it to do so. The bank’s customers consist of military members, and their families, spread across the globe.

USAA was one of the first banks earlier this decade to deploy and heavily promote mobile remote deposit capture for paper checks. Since then, USAA also has jumped the gun on other banks when adding features such as biometric authentication.

USAA currently is piloting augmented reality in a standalone app for customers seeking to purchase a vehicle. The app can recognize a vehicle and then bring up information on it in real-time, according to a report from Banking Tech.

A couple of USAA executives that participated at BCX said customer input and interaction is a primary reason why the bank reacts to the market quickly.

“For us, innovation is table stakes,” Matt Schulz the lead digital strategy manager at USAA, said during a panel discussion about banks adopting to the digital-first consumer.

He mentioned USAA Labs, which is a way for the bank’s customers to “participate in innovation with suggestions.”

“Since we serve the military, they are used to using [the latest] tech,” Schulz said. “They are interested in using new [mobile banking features].”

Phil Leininger, USAA’s general manager for omnichannel sales and service, reiterated the bank’s view on how its customers play a vital role in developing and improving digital services.

“We talk a lot about humanizing our service and humanizing digital experiences [through our interaction with customers,” Leininger said during a keynote speech on the summit’s last day.

While USAA keeps its technology development in-house, other banks are reaching out to fintech companies to improve the digital experience.

Ron Strand-Sorrell, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Axiom Bank, said during the same panel as Schulz that Axiom went in a different direction when its provider at the time “didn’t meet all of our expectations and needs.”

Axiom partnered with two different unnamed fintech companies and worked with them to pinpoint not only the bank’s needs, but also their customers’ needs.

The result of those partnerships was a budgeting tool that is the most-used feature in Axiom’s mobile app.

“It was good because now that it’s up and running, we can make changes more quickly,” Strand-Sorrell said.

He also noted that working with fintech companies wasn’t a chore and the process to find the right partners was something the bank took seriously. Axiom organized a search committee to find the right partners and it just so happened the two companies it chose already had former bankers as key executives.

Republished with permission from Mobile Payments Today

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