July 2017 – Industry Overview

According to a recent study, mobile banking apps are the fifth most frequently used smartphone apps on a weekly basis, behind only social networking, music, gaming and news apps. In addition, Corporate Insight’s recent Bank Customer survey found the overwhelming majority of banking clients (80.5%) deemed a clear and logical app navigation structure was “very important” or “extremely important” to them. To keep pace with these growing mobile preferences and expectations, banks must offer user-friendly apps that enable users to access account information and perform a suite of transaction and self-service functions easily. In this month’s Bank Monitor Report, we summarize the iPhone mobile app experience for each firm in the coverage set, concentrating on overarching navigational structures and the availability of secondary navigation. For this overview, we evaluate the most important capabilities across five main categories: login, account information, transactional capabilities, alerts and help/customer service. This report forgoes a grading system and instead serves as a guide to the mobile app experience for each firm.

As banks add more features to their mobile apps, effective menu design and navigation is increasingly essential to avoid cluttered and inefficient platforms. Employed by 72% of banks, vertical slideout menus are the most common style of in-app main navigation. Despite this popularity, however, a recent Corporate Insight user test found that users overwhelmingly prefer the less frequently employed horizontal tab menus, citing their preference for being able to view all options at a glance instead of having to scroll extensively as many slideout menus require. Only four firms in the Bank Monitor coverage group—Bank of America, Citibank, Schwab Bank and USAA—use this horizontal tab main navigation menu structure. Schwab is the only one of these to allow users to customize which options are included in the horizontal menu, though BB&T and USAA also incorporate elements of personalization by allowing users to customize their home screens. In terms of secondary navigation, every bank in the coverage set provides on-screen back buttons, 11 use tab menus and four include screen-specific menus.

As the popularity of mobile banking apps with consumers rises, so, too, does the preponderance of in-app capabilities. Each firm in the coverage group includes the following features in its iPhone app: mobile check deposit, self-servicing links, ATM/branch locator tool, one-time immediate internal transfers, bill pay, account balance details and transaction history of at least 90 days. Recurring and external transfers are less common than internal transfers, available from 10 (56%) and 13 (72%) firms, respectively, and four firms—Bank of America, Citibank, PNC Bank and SunTrust—lack both options. Thirteen firms include person-to-person payment and transfer options, though one of these—USAA—does not include this option on its desktop site. Of the five firms without this feature in the mobile app, SunTrust is the only one that has person-to-person payments on its desktop site, but fails to provide them in the mobile app. We took particular note of in-app statements, alerts management and debit card settings controls. Six firms do not include account statements within the mobile app. Alerts and debit card settings management are available from nine (50%) and seven (39%) firms, respectively. Only three firms—Bank of America, USAA and Wells Fargo—allow users to deactivate debit cards temporarily from the mobile app, an increasingly popular capability. Ally and Capital One relegate all debit card management functionality to standalone apps, which are not covered in this report.