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May 9, 2012

What mobile banking needs

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 8:51 AM


Abraham Maslow said that human beings must fulfill their (basic) need for air, food, water, sleep and other life-forces before they can move on to higher things. Actually, you can apply that logic to every aspect of life: fuel economy before interiors, fixed return before capital appreciation, home ownership before vacation...Must-have trumps nice-to-have every time.

But it looks like we lost the plot with mobile banking. In our keenness to celebrate the smartphone's success have we forgotten that 70% of mobile users don't have one? Or that of the 5 billion mobile users, only 300 million bank using their devices? What's it going to take to get them to buy into mobile banking? Not a downloadable app, I assure you. A recent Infosys survey of American consumers hints at the answer. While a large majority of respondents said that using a mobile phone for banking was both easy and convenient, less than half found it reliable, and about a third said that slow speed and concerns about data security were a dampener. What non-mobile banking users thought about the service was even more telling: 60% were not sure it was safe, 45% thought it was "experimental" and get a load of this: 38% found it scary! Here's where you can read more:
http://www.infosys.com/newsroom/press-releases/Pages/mobile-banking-survey.aspx

Instead of dismissing them with a laugh, let's tune into what these people are really saying.  Which is this: Mobile banking is convenient, it's accessible, easy, perhaps even enjoyable, but we're not biting until it gets the basics of reliability and safety right.

It's that Maslow theory playing out all over again.

Kenya's Safaricom is one that didn't lose sight of this fundamental truth. It took a very basic customer need - to remit money home safely and quickly - and built its landmark M-Pesa business on it.  Having done that, the company worked its way up the hierarchy of needs to provide bank accounts, prepaid cards, bill payments and even travel and ticketing services. It succeeded because it made utility part of the experience. Maslow would approve.

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