The US is in the midst of a mobile banking revolution. Clearly, so is the rest of the world. However, it’s arguable the US’s experience is more dramatic than most. Why? Because some aspects of US banking infrastructure can be – relative to many other ‘first world’ countries – a little behind.
This is a country that still uses cheques. It doesn’t have the kind of fast payment system that, for example, the UK does. Chip and PIN has been slow to take off here, as has contactless.
This makes the switch to mobile pretty drastic for many customers. And it presents a challenge for traditional bricks and mortar banks. They know that many of of their customers are keen to embrace digital banking, and especially banking by app. In fact, a study by eMarketer revealed there were already 105.1 million Americans banking by phone at the end of 2017.
However, traditional banks also know some of their customers would like to go mobile, but are nervous about the technology. Meanwhile other customers are quite content to continue conducting their business in the branch.
U.S. Bank, the fifth largest bank in the country, has tackled this issue in a variety of ways. Perhaps the most visible is its ‘Explorer’ service. This is a virtual walk-through tool that carefully guides any user through all aspects of the digital and mobile experience.
Any customer can access it online. But here’s the important bit: U.S Bank trains all its staff in how to use and demonstrate it too.
Beth McDonnell, EVP, chief marketing officer at U.S. Bank, explains why: “We have a lot of people who just prefer the human touch and to look someone in the eye,” she says. “So we make sure we educate our branch folks. We continually train them on the new digital technology. And with Explorer we can show customers in the branch how to activate digital services. So if they’re interested in remote cheque deposit, for example, we have a tool to demonstrate that.”
This is important since U.S. Bank has plenty of digital services on offer – and is introducing new ones all the time. It offers a fully featured mobile app, which it upgrades constantly. In 2017, it added location services to its mobile app. They can verify whether the user’s phone and card are in the same place in order to reduce the chance of a card payment being rejected and to potentially combat fraud.
And earlier this year U.S. bank launched a business loan product called Simple Loan with an entirely digital application process. Customers can apply and be approved for a loan via the mobile app in just a few minutes.
McDonnell says such services meet the need of its increasingly mobile-savvy base. “Mobile technology is changing the banking industry tremendously,” she says. “We want to serve customers however they want to bank, and wherever and whenever they want to do it. We need to stay ahead of where customers are going with their finances.”
Of course, this doesn’t just apply to products and services. McDonnell says the way the bank markets itself reflects the shift to mobile too. She adds: “I really like mobile campaigns because we can optimize and change things out in minutes. We can see how successful a campaign is – how many people are going to the app or the ad or the banner. We can see reaction almost in real time. It’s the closest thing to being there with customer in person.”