December 2015: Mobile Account Opening

With the proliferation of smartphones, some firms have invested in improving their digital account-opening experience by allowing clients to initiate a new relationship through a mobile app or mobile-optimized site. Of the 27 firms tracked by Mobile Monitor, 19% offer the ability to start a new relationship via their mobile app, while 52% provide access to a mobile-optimized account application when visiting the firm’s site from a smartphone or tablet. This is our first full report focused on the account opening process on mobile devices.

Financial services firms continue to develop and refine their online account applications with the end goal to minimize application abandonment. Firms offer detailed help sections, links to have the firm call the prospect and live chat – all within the application process. These tools are included to provide help during what can often be a stressful and frustrating experience for users.

While an online new account application experience can be trying itself, completing the same application on a mobile device is even more difficult. Traditional applications are long and complicated and do not translate well to a mobile device; small screens do not lend themselves to data collection and extensive typing. To combat this, many firms have begun optimizing their applications for prospects using mobile devices. The most common strategy is with a mobile-specific application on the firm’s mobile site. Some of the more innovative firms also offer account applications directly within their apps.

When designing an account application for mobile devices, firms should simplify the process, first by reducing the number of data fields that require manual entry. Mobile-specific dropdowns, scrolling pickers and workflow-optimized fields broken into smaller streamlined steps could also improve the experience. Personal data should be pre-filled in the application for existing clients who want to open an additional account. These few easy steps can save time and simplify an application, resulting in more completed applications through the mobile channel.

It is in financial services firms’ best interests to continue to develop and fine-tune their mobile account opening processes. While most bank accounts are still opened online or at a branch, the industry is beginning to see prospects open accounts using their mobile devices. According to account opening technology vendor Andera, in 2013, approximately 24% of online applications for banks and credit unions began from a mobile device, up 800% over 2010. As internet traffic originates increasingly from mobile devices, a mobile-optimized account application will become a necessity.