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Tablets Spur Mobile Banking Improvements

Both my kids have desktop computers, but they vastly prefer to use the family iPad for homework or games. Why? I suspect it has something to do with the cool factor, but it’s also easy to carry around, has way better battery life, and great access to the App Store (once you master Angry Birds and need a new game to conquer). And with yesterday’s launch of the next generation iPad, it will also provide a sharper image display and the ability to connect to the Internet on 4G broadband networks, which will provide individual consumers and businesses alike with a more engaging user experience.

At Sybase, we’re seeing a second wave of innovation in Internet banking solutions driven largely by tablets—iPad leading the pack and others, such as Kindle Fire, Samsung Galaxy, Blackberry Playbook and HP TouchPad also making inroads. Other contributing factors to this evolution are scalability issues with first-generation Web and mobile apps, and mergers within the financial industry itself that force infrastructure consolidation.

It’s tablets, though, that are leading many banks (and online banking platform providers) to start thinking of their Internet and mobile banking offerings as one service, developing tablet apps to go with those for Web and smartphones. Just one year ago, banks generally weren’t interested in building an iPad app. Now, they’re getting on board, wanting to stay competitive and show that they’re thinking about the future.

A tablet’s good amount of screen real estate is like a desktop or laptop in that you can have a richer interface than you can with a phone (and also see what you’re doing). 3G connectivity and widely available WIFI delivers the widespread Internet access that many people appreciate about SMS-based mobile banking. With a tablet, customers no longer have to settle for a scaled-down version of banking services when they’re on the go.

This week’s news reiterates that Apple’s iPad is reinventing portable computing and the way that individuals interact with an online display. Tablets are also bringing a whole new segment of people to mobile banking, including those who weren’t comfortable making transactions on their phones. With a form factor more like a laptop, tablets are less likely to be lost or stolen, and may help consumers feel more secure using them.

Especially when targeting the tech savvy, affluent and younger customers, banks are starting to realize that more people are going to have—and prefer using—tablets over other connected devices. I think tablets will encourage more people of all ages to make financial transactions online in general, and use Internet/mobile banking in particular.

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