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Mobile banking signals upside for sector

Published on Thursday, 29 Sep 2011
Winnie Yeung

To wait or not to wait? That is the question on the lips of banking customers waiting in line to be served at bank branches across town. "Not to" was the choice of 68 per cent of customers, who subsequently exited the branch without completing any transaction, according to Winnie Yeung, general manager of Cimigo, who presented the research and consultancy firm's latest study.

But where did they turn to? A majority used internet banking, ATMs and phone banking channels to complete their transactions. This may not come as a surprise to most banks, as the majority of them have already cottoned on to the need to develop and enhance these channels. What might stir banks into action is that 16 per cent of the "impatient" customers, claimed they took their business to a competitor.

The study indicates that a 10-minute wait is the benchmark figure behind the question, "Are we serving customers the right way?" About 85 per cent of interviewees found it unacceptable to queue for over 10 minutes for general banking transactions. Regarding processing times for purchasing investment products, 84 people out of 100 said they would find it unreasonable if it were to take more than 45 minutes.

Yeung says that besides offering more counters to serve customers, banks can also enhance "branch experience" by providing more greeters and staff to help divert traffic, offering more private areas for wealth management advice, and delivering more entertainment, such us free Wi-Fi for people queueing.

According to Yeung, 69 per cent of investors are using smart phones, and 61 per cent of them are enjoying the convenience this translates into, in terms of banking applications. "[There is] room to further boost mobile banking applications... the penetration rate of smart phones for the 25-29 year old group is 89 per cent, yet only half are using mobile apps."

And what are the implications for the job market? Possibly more openings in frontline and customer service banking, whether online or offline, as well as positions in information technology. 

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