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Tablets can be the antidote to some of the banks' "ailments"!

Tablet devices are becoming immensely popular and their adoption is forecast to grow over 40% by 2016 - by which time tablets are expected to overtake the sale of PCs. Today, tablets like the Apple iPad, iPad mini, Samsung Galaxy Tab and Amazon Kindle Fire continue to sell like hot cakes. Research shows that over 30% of U.S. Internet users use tablets for two hours per day on an average. The above statistics are anything but surprising. The fact that tablets bring together the best attributes of smartphones and computers-- portability, convenience, screen readability, personalization, easy to use interfaces, and sociability--makes them an ideal companion for leisure as well as business.

But why should banks take note of tablets?
Most tablet owners are young (25 to 44 years old) and wealthy (incomes of over US$80,000 per year). Tablet owners are also known to use many banking products and have investable assets. Research shows that self-service banking channel adoption growth among tablet owners is two times that of non-tablet owners. Transactional banking services like bill presentment and payment are being adopted more by tablet users than smartphone-only users--particularly in areas with higher tablet adoption. In fact, transactional tablet banking usage is expected to exceed 200 million users by 2017. In Europe, tablet owners have 50% greater chance of shopping on their tablet device than using their smartphone. It is expected that significant migration of transactions (especially bill presentment and payment) and purchases would happen from desktops/laptops/smartphones to tablets. Today, large numbers of customers are accessing banking services using their tablet's Internet and apps capabilities. Many more are asking their banks to provide tablet banking services that enable complete online banking functionality as well as offer an optimized, enriching user experience.

Banks should not ignore these tablet trends and customer demands. Enabling tablet banking benefits banks through:

  • Differentiation and improved customer acquisition/retention: Banks can differentiate themselves by effectively leveraging tablets and demonstrating to customers that they understand the requirements of the channel as well as their customer's needs. It has been seen that tablet banking users bank more frequently than non-tablet users and are more engaged. This helps banks enhance their brand interaction and loyalty. Tablet banking also provides an opportunity for banks to attract specific customer segments - for example, households with an annual income of over US$75,000.
  • Improved customer service and satisfaction: By supporting the tablet channel, banks can enhance the dynamics of their online and mobile banking channel and enable superior self-service channels' usage experience to customers. Richer, faster and collaborative services could be enabled leading to improved customer service.
  • Increased profitability and reduced cost: Tablet users are more likely to make purchases and respond to offers and ads, thereby generating higher revenue. Tablet banking can also assist banks in enabling greater customer migration from costly offline channels (e.g. branch, call center) to lower cost self-service channels.
  • Enhance advisors' performance: Tablets have the capability to transform the face-to-face interactions of financial advisors and customers. Some of the banks have started leveraging tablet apps during face-to-face interactions between financial advisors and customers. For one, tablets enable advisors to be more productive irrespective of their location - e.g. cafes, restaurants, etc. Further, tablets' collaboration and rich media capabilities enable advisors to explain complex investment decisions or products in more engaging and compelling manner. Graphical tools on tablets that enable financial planning, risk profiling, product selection, etc. make for better client involvement in decision making. The linking of tablet apps with the bank's CRM systems further enable advisors to have faster and more flexible access to the bank's product catalogs, applications and other business processes. This enhances advisors' efficiency and productivity.

What are your banking peers doing in the tablet environment?
Examples of proactive adoption of tablet banking by banks abound. For example, BB&T, Chase and BNP Paribas have their own good iPad apps that let customers make transfers, manage accounts, pay bills and more. Some of these apps provide more features than smartphone apps - e.g. access to a host of calculators and insightful articles. BNP Paribas Fortis (Belgium) publishes an e-magazine named UltiMag that is available exclusively on the iPad. Finanza & Futuro Banca piloted Finantix Wealth Apps, an advisory suite that runs on the iPad and helps the bank's advisors engage with clients/prospects in a more effective manner. Commonwealth Bank tailored their Internet banking channel, called NetBank, for tablet devices. Danske Bank enabled a banking solution on the iPad for their Nordic customers. They are the first bank in Denmark to offer an iPad solution. In India, Corporation Bank enabled transaction-based banking services through tablets, becoming the first public sector bank in India to do so.

The way forward
Many banks have failed to proactively harness the opportunities that tablets offer and leverage it effectively to address some of their business challenges. With an assumption that their customers are happy as they are (accessing their existing online and mobile banking channels using tablets), many banks have largely ignored the development of tablet-specific apps designed to enhance the user's banking experience on tablets. It is important that banks look at tablets as a new and distinct channel and adopt it proactively - the business benefits to be had from tablets channels are too big to be ignored.

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