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The Masses Want Mobile

Recent statistics show that the practice of mobile banking has grown significantly in the last two years. I’m sure you see it with your own customers. If any of us thought that people would shy away from making financial transactions on their smartphone, those doubts should now be put to rest. The tide has turned, and in just a few short years, the majority of bank transactions will take place via the mobile web. It might not even take that long. Are you and your bank ready?

Of course you have a website, and hopefully you’ve used some resources to ensure that it is mobile friendly. That’s a start, but it’s not enough. Anyone that is old enough can remember when drive-through banking was a new idea. At first, banks slapped a simple drive through onto their existing building in a stopgap effort to keep up with the new bank being built down the street. However, as more and more customers started to make transactions from their vehicle, it became clear that the drive-up needed to be more than an afterthought. Customers demanded a drive-up that was easy to use, secure and prepared to handle increased demand.

Banks need to treat their mobile platforms in the same manner, with one significant exception: while the drive-up was popular, it never fully supplanted the lobby. All signs point to mobile transactions becoming the rule rather than the exception. Ask a 22-year-old how she makes purchases, and you will hear about mobile shopping, mobile payments (even in stores) and mobile banking. It’s not that she prefers to bank online, it’s that she actively avoids coming to the physical bank. She sees it as an inconvenience, a hassle in a life where you can order your groceries in many cities and have them delivered on the same day (including the weekend).

In other words, we are just a few years away from your mobile storefront being your primary storefront. That can be a lot to wrap your head around, but it is important that we do, because once a bank’s physical location becomes irrelevant, large corporations can serve everybody and offer customers the benefits of that volume. Worse yet, online-only banks without the overhead of brick and mortar are starting to move from the fringe to the mainstream. In a political environment that favors reduced regulation, this will only become more of a challenge for small to medium-sized institutions.

What can you do to stem the tide? First and foremost, you must change your mindset. The “it’s our people” marketing from the past no longer carries much weight with young consumers. After all, they would prefer to not meet your tellers face to face. Instead, they are mostly concerned with service and convenience. When those elements are provided by people, young customers appreciate it, but they also want speedy transactions that are automated. You need to improve your mobile web presence so that you are proud of it being the main entry to your bank, and your team needs to be ready and willing to support those online services.

Bank customers used to want a banker to make their life easier (“she did all the paper work for me!”), but now they want an app or website to do the same thing. The sooner you and your team can shift your thinking to take advantage of the fact that you are an important but no longer initial part of the banking process, the sooner you can get the hang of doing what it takes to make your mobile banking experience something special. It’s a technology issue for sure, but it is also a matter of mindset.

That smartphone in your pocket or purse is the most important thing to happen to banking since the invention of the computer. Embrace it in your employee training. Celebrate it in your marketing and communication. Make it a priority so that you can be a part of shaping the future of banking rather than simply responding to it.

Greg “Hal” Halliday is the president of Anchor Marketing, a branding and new media agency that specializes in successful differentiation and positioning. Anchor Marketing has spent nearly 20 years branding and marketing independent banks in Minnesota and North Dakota. Halliday is recognized as a Certified Financial Marketing Professional by the American Bankers Association. You can contact him via phone at 701-787-8230 or by email at halh@anchorwebsite.com.