Banks have been so focused on building the mobile retail solutions for consumers that they could be missing out on a huge opportunity in commercial mobile banking. As with most trends of new innovations and technologies it starts with the consumer, but it’s only a matter of time until mobile transcends into the corporate treasuries of both SMEs and large enterprises. In fact, a report by Aite Group, found there is a high demand for corporate mobile banking services amongst treasures. Of the 300 treasury executives who were polled globally, approximately two-thirds said they’d use mobile corporate banking services to perform basic transactions such as checking balances or transferring funds.
However, to-date there has been a lack of corporate banking features that enable businesses to review and approve payments remotely. As the adoption of mobile banking and its convenience continue to drive consumer demand in personal banking, more and more businesses will require the same for their corporate banking services. Mobiles can provide treasurers and cash managers access to real-time information in their corporate environments. They’re also willing to pay for mobile services that will increase efficiency for their businesses. Tablets can further extend corporate mobile services as they’ve already found their place in the boardroom.
As with any product, it must be relevant and tailored to the end users. Simply masking the retail offering under a corporate banking banner won’t be enough.
Corporate banking is centered on roles and workflows. Take for example the wire/funds transfer between companies. An employee within the finance department might create the initial transfer instruction; but a few or even just one senior manager at a company will make the actual approval. The bottleneck in this process is the approver – as they need to be online to approve.
It is not an unusual circumstance to find these managers pulled over at the side of the road, firing up their laptop, hunting for mobile/WiFi coverage whilst trying to juggle a laptop and PIN token generator – just so they can approve a funds transfer.
Moving the approval process to a mobile device – phone or, better still, a tablet – has clear benefits. So much so, we now hear of users that even when they are in their office, sat in front of their PC, choose their iPad to action transfers.
The services these customers are looking move to the mobile channel go beyond approvals, for example the real-estate of a tablet is ideal for providing an instant snapshot of multiple accounts, opening and closing positions and more. In addition, the manufacture/distributor/merchant supply chain could have an alternative process for the fulfillment and payments of goods and services via the mobile channel to remove cash from the transaction process. This can improve cash flow, reduce fraud and losses in the system and reduce risk for merchants and delivery drivers. Clearly there is a viable untapped opportunity for these services and a desire by corporate customers to have additional convenience and flexibility, but only if their user experience address their needs.
RBS Citizens Financial Group was one of the first to offer a corporate mobile banking application. The solution, available for Citizens treasury management customers using iPhone, RIM and Android devices, is called accessMOBILE. It allows users to approve or release scheduled payments, transfer funds to different accounts, receive alerts about pending transactions and view account balances and recent transactions. Its success has been largely due to the early adoption, continual targeted updates of its mobile apps and design. By keeping the interface and user experience similar to the commercial online banking systems, but with added flexibility and freedom, the user experience has proved successful.
This year is shaping up to be the year of mobility. Connected devices are finding their way into every aspect of our personal lives, including shopping, paying and banking and it’s only a matter of time until it’s an everyday aspect of corporate life. That means first-movers have the advantage, if banks realise the full potential of this nascent mobile sector.