Mobile Barriers


How to break the glass ceiling of mobile adoption

By John Moon

Community banks recognize the potential benefits the mobile channel offers: a lower cost to serve customers, increased customer satisfaction and retention, and significant potential for return on investment. However, for many banks, breaking through the glass ceiling to go beyond the threshold of early adopters has been challenging.

According to Fiserv research, mobile banking adoption typically hits a glass ceiling of 15 to 20 percent of online banking customers for many community banks. Early adopters sign up within a year of the bank offering the service, but the trajectory then stagnates to include just a small additional percentage of adopters over the next two years.

To move beyond the initial wave of early adopters and reach more customers, community banks must promote widespread consumer acceptance of the mobile channel. By leveraging the key drivers of consumer adoption, banks can promote a higher rate of adoption that will establish mobile financial services as the norm.

Fiserv research has shown that banks have a significant opportunity to achieve adoption rates two to three times higher than the standard by taking a more proactive approach and increasing their level of engagement with customers. How customers perceive mobile banking will have a significant impact on adoption.

Making the case

Persuasive ways to convince consumers that mobile banking will enhance their experiences include messages focused on saving time and money. Consumers today are busy and budget-conscious, so the benefits become tangible when they are reminded that mobile banking saves time and can serve up alerts and reminders that help safeguard against missed payments and late fees. Additionally, using real-life examples illustrates how mobile banking can come in handy and will benefit them in their own lives.

Simply put, the more accessible a product, service or technology is, the greater the opportunity to use it. To break through the glass ceiling and attract additional users and transactional activity, mobile banking must be made more attractive and accessible. So now is the time for banks to consider the robustness, scalability and availability of their mobile offering to get to the next level of profitability. By going beyond simple account access and offering next generation mobile banking services, such as mobile remote deposit capture and person-to-person payments, community banks will be positioned to derive increased value and return from customer relationships.

In addition, through the promotion of mobile banking capabilities, banks can attract new customers. As a result, there will be more customers making more transactions through a lower-cost channel. The potential increase in revenue in tandem with the reduction in costs should more than prove the business case to fund support for next generation mobile banking services.

Overcome security concerns

The 2013 Fiserv Consumer Trends Survey found that 38 percent of consumers who are not using mobile banking cite concern about the security of their financial information as the primary reason. The perception that mobile banking transactions are less secure than online banking transactions must be overcome in order to turn skeptics into users.

It is important to help users understand that mobile banking is safe and secure. For example, a security guarantee or mobile banking guarantee should be provided that explains how consumer information and transactions are protected, and that offers assurances, such as a money-back guarantee. Proactively providing customers with the knowledge that their privacy and transactions are safeguarded is more effective than waiting for a question that may never come.

For the majority of consumers, mobile technology is a part of everyday life. Community banks can take advantage of this by focusing on mobile as a viable channel for transactions and positioning it as an integral part of the user experience.

Those financial institutions that devote the time to successfully address key factors of consumer acceptance—usefulness, accessibility, security and ease of use—will be rewarded with a higher rate of adoption. By acting now, financial institutions can extend the benefits of the mobile channel to the broadest possible range of customers.

John Moon ( is senior manager of mobile adoption marketing for Fiserv Inc., a financial services technology provider in Brookfield, Wis.