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A blog by InetSolution about programming, security, design and marketing for banks, credit unions and e-commerce.

Free Guide for Bankers Considering Mobile Apps and Mobile-Optimized Websites

Based on our project pipeline, 2011 is proving to be the year when small to medium sized credit unions and banks are finally taking action to provide mobile-optimized services to their customers. According to our data, consumers aren’t sitting idle when it comes to using mobile devices to interact with their financial institutions. Banks and credit unions who have been standing on the sidelines with regard to mobile would be wise to start planning a strategy now.

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Mobile Device Usage Climbing Steadily on Bank Websites

We’ve sampled mobile device usage for the past 60 days on 25 bank and credit union websites with assets ranging from $53 million to $560 million. Mobile devices accounted for 12% to 27% of total visits to these bank and credit union websites and the average was 16%. Only 2 of these 25 sites offer visitors a mobile-optimized website or a mobile app.

Stats from 40,000 member credit union site 5/31/2010 - 5/1/2011

What's Holding Back Some Banks and Credit Unions from Going Mobile?

To understand what’s holding them back, we spoke with six marketing and four I.T. managers from banks and credit unions that do not have a mobile-optimized website. We wanted to know why these banks and credit unions do not yet offer a mobile-optimized website or mobile app.

The most common reason these managers gave for not having a mobile-optimized website today is that they are waiting to couple the launch of a mobile website or app with a mobile banking product. Of these 10 individuals, nine said their organization is evaluating mobile banking solutions and hope to rollout a solution within the next 18 months.

Do Not Make Customers Wait for Technology Competitors Already Offer

While that coupling strategy might make sense in instances where a mobile banking launch is just around the corner, waiting 6 to 18 months to accommodate mobile customers today is unnecessary. While mobile banking is the halo product in a bank’s mobile portfolio, it isn’t a pre-requisite to launching a mobile-optimized marketing website, especially for those banks that are already seeing 15% or higher mobile usage on their desktop-optimized marketing websites. Forcing thousands of visitors to pinch & zoom their way around a standard website on their iPhone can not only make a bank look antiquated, but it could also drive potential new customers to more advanced competitors.

Should Banks Build Apps or Mobile-Optimized Websites?

Many of the interviewees said that they were uncertain about whether it is better to build an app or a mobile-optimized website. Many of our clients request an "app" when first approaching us for a solution, but after evaluating their needs we determine that a mobile-optimized website is a better fit. Likewise, some clients ask for a mobile website, but want to offer features that an app is better suited to deliver. Deciding between an app, a mobile website or both is a critical decision.

While we’ll create either apps or mobile websites for our clients, choosing the wrong platform can result in overspending, deployment delays, user experience shortcomings and a host of other issues that can derail a new mobile initiative. On the flipside, correctly choosing the platform that best accommodates the features customers need can allow banks and credit unions to most quickly and affordably rollout a first generation mobile offering to satisfy customers today and pave the way for a diverse and scalable mobile services channel in the future.

Free Report to Help Bankers Evaluate Mobile Apps and Mobile-Optimized Websites

To help bankers better understand the basics of mobile apps, mobile-optimized websites and the pros & cons of each platform, we’ve written a short guide titled Mobile Platforms: A Banker's Primer on Mobile Apps vs. Mobile Websites.

If you’re responsible for mobile initiatives at a bank or credit union, our primer will explain the benefits and drawbacks of apps versus mobile websites. It will also teach you the basic terminology you’ll hear developers like us use when we discuss solutions with you so that you can "talk the talk."

The primer is free.

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