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Tablets can be the antidote to some of the banks' ailments: provided they follow the right prescription!

In my last blog, I had posited that tablets can be the antidote to the "ailments" of some banks. Through this blog, I will share recommendations on how banks should approach their tablet banking channel implementation for reaping maximum benefits.

In recent times, while many banks have tried to effectively leverage their new tablet banking channels, unfortunately, not many have succeeded. There are inherent fallacies in such banks' approaches. For example, many of these banks have assumed that their customers are happy with just being able to access online and mobile banking channels through tablets. Resultantly, these banks have not bothered to develop tablet-specific banking websites or applications. No prizes for guessing then that the websites of such banks usually fail to provide customers with the expected levels of performance (page load time, download speed etc.) or user experience (UX) on tablets. These banks have ignored the point that the mouse and keyboard interaction models of PC-based websites don't work well for multi-touch devices like tablets. As an example, in online banking websites, a page has lot of content that is "un-swipeable". The content blocks and buttons are also smaller, and don't lend themselves well to tablets. Neither do the simply recycled mobile banking apps on tablets.

So how should banks approach tablet adoption?

  • Treat tablets as a distinct channel: Although tablets possess the characteristics of both the mobile banking and online banking channels, they have their own unique features. Disregarding this fact and force-fitting tablet banking into the definition of another channel is a mistake. Your bank can derive real-world benefits only if the tablet is not treated as just another variant of their mobile or online banking channels. Rather, they must treat and position tablets as a distinct channel - one that provides a unique customer experience due to its portability, simplicity, interactivity, ease of navigation (including tactile and gestural) and advanced graphic capabilities. The tablet's ability to offer complex functionalities on an intuitive and easily navigable touchscreen is well-tested and proven.


  • Focus on their user and know their context: It is important for banks to know why, how and where banking customers use their tablet applications and sites. Keeping customer use cases in mind and matching tablet channel capabilities with end user goals is imperative for developing and designing optimal tablet banking features, content and UX. It has been seen that in comparison to mobile banking, tablets are relatively less used by users for transactional banking activities (e.g. transfers, bill pay, or balance checks). Rather, users generally use tablets more for investment and other analyses, and in researching information about financial products. Using these insights, banks should consider enabling thought leadership and deeper content (including research publication) onto their tablet banking channel. Bank's focus demographics must also be catered to.

For example, for the wealthy demographic (households having income of over US$80,000 per annum), consider developing a tablet-specific app that aids financial management (through saving calculators, budgeting and other PFM tools). Citibank, for example, has deployed a PFM app for the iPad, and the app is considered an industry benchmark. This PFM app provides intuitive and simple task-flows and functions.

  • Optimize for tablet use: Banks should ensure that their mobile apps and online banking websites are customized and optimized for tablet use, rather than simply delivering their full online or mobile banking website or app content on tablets as-is. The first step towards achieving this is to reduce "heavy" and unnecessary content (including graphics). Also, while the availability and speed of tablets are important aspects, paying close attention to its users' interaction model is even more important. For example, optimizing the tablet sites for touch (e.g. spacing frequently-used and important links relatively far apart) is crucial. The tablet's increased real estate must be leveraged to the fullest to enrich consumer interactions, including using interactive and unique data presentations. Content aggregation is also important since the content tablets can display on one screen would require multiple screens on a smartphone. Banks can also consider providing widget-like layout of tasks to help users refer to the information in context (e.g. side-by-side views of the effects of the latest news on stock prices). Through "widgetization" and data compartmentalization, banks should also consider displaying same information through different forms - watch-lists, quotes, reports, charts, etc. For a decision on when to build tablet-specific app, banks must define a tipping point - e.g. one based upon a defined threshold for tablet device adoption amongst the user base. Considering focus demographics, and not just current customers in the user base measurement is recommended.


  • Position it right: For better visibility of their tablet banking channels, banks can launch it by enabling their staff tablets to provide face-to-face advisory services. Banks should position their tablet banking channels and associated website/app as competitive differentiators - instead of it being yet another banking channel. Also, while the tablet experience must be unique, a bank must also ensure that their positioning and user experience is in coherence with those of the bank's other channels (especially digital) and overall branding. Also, to truly bring in new customers, banks must ensure that their tablet banking offering is complemented by the bank's additional product and channel initiatives (e.g. those that cater to more affluent and younger customers).


  • Manage challenges by leveraging external expertise. Banks must be well prepared to face the challenges during their tablet banking adoption. For this, banks should consider partnering with a tablet technology solution provider who is also experienced with the design, development and implementation of all the other banking channels. Such a provider can guide banks on strategies to address their various concerns - including those related to device proliferation and the resulting need to:
      • Support new, popular devices (e.g. Microsoft Surface)
      • Need for adaptive architecture model
      • Multiple technology-related concerns
      • Address challenges around OS upgrades, data integration and functional/content aggregation
      • Ensure coherence of the tablet banking channel with other digital channels
      • Establish robust policies and processes to manage and govern their tablet banking channel

Lead the way

Venturing into tablet banking channel deployment for its own sake will be counter-productive for banks. The decision should rather be driven by the bank's business objectives and proven business trends, and backed with robust approaches. Citi, Bank of America and USAA are some of the major banks that have already shown the way in tablet banking. Citi, for example, has been leading the way in providing great user experience on tablet banking.


I really dont agree with the points raised here. The suggestions are valid for any, ANY, Mobile application not just the banking applications. How a tablet version of the banking application will help the bank is not coming out here.
Why should bank treat tablet as a seperate channel? Many of famous applications like google maps, Viber etc dont have an ipad version. What is the value a bank would get due to the effort for making a tablet version?

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