The View from Sibos Part One: A Mobile Future in Sight

At Sibos 2014, the financial world came together to discuss significant industry issues and share views on critical topics. Much of the talk at the recent Boston conference was around mobile, which as we know is a channel that cannot be overlooked by financial institutions no matter where they are based in the world.

For the second year, Fiserv surveyed financial industry decision makers at Sibos. The responses highlight the impact of mobile, with almost half of the respondents believing that mobile payment technologies were most likely to have the greatest disruptive impact on the financial services industry in the next 12 months – more than double the number of those who pegged much-discussed virtual currencies as the second most disruptive force.

It’s no secret that consumers are using mobile banking in increasing numbers, with people in both developed and developing countries turning to the technology as a convenient way to check balances, make payments and conduct other on-the-go financial activities. More than a third of respondents expect banks’ investment in mobile over the next year to be primarily focused on smartphone payments at a physical location, such as a shop. Other key areas of focus cited in the survey include adding person-to-person (P2P) payments to mobile and tablet banking services (25 percent) and enabling payments via the mobile browser (23 percent).

Attendees also expect major consumer technology companies to establish themselves as key players in mobile payments. Fifty-five percent of respondents identify businesses like Apple® and Google® as those that will have the most disruptive impact on this space in the next 12 months, perhaps by bringing mobile money functionality to device owners everywhere. Another 14 percent of respondents think that new bank entrants will have the most disruptive impact, and 11 percent say it will be online retailers. Regardless of the business sector from which it originates, the stage is set for major developments in mobile.

Global Shifts

Attendees at the Sibos 2013 conference in Dubai said that Asia would see the most growth in mobile investment, with 46 percent of respondents selecting that region as the top location for investment. The 2014 survey demonstrates a significant change however, with only 26 percent of respondents selecting APAC as a key growth area for mobile investment, while North America rose to 22 percent from just 5 percent in 2013. While this may reflect a desire to provide customers in developed markets with the latest value-add services, such as pre login balance or instant loan information, it is also possible that the location of the conference has come into play, with local attendees impacting the outcome and pointing to a greater focus on the Americas.

Interestingly, nearly a third of respondents are currently conducting outreach to underbanked and unbanked populations through mobile banking – a major focus in developing economies for financial institutions looking to grow new customer segments.

Catching the Mobile Wave

In developed markets, consumer demand and the sheer wealth of functionality offered by the mobile and tablet channels have understandably placed the technologies at the top of the wish list for the industry. Thirty percent of respondents see mobile and tablet banking platforms as the area driving most technology investment in next 12 months, followed by compliance (22 percent), new payments technology (14 percent) and core banking (9 percent).

Total investment in mobile banking and payments is also expected to increase over the next 12 months, with 35 percent expecting budgets to increase by more than 50 percent. This illustrates the acceleration of mobile as a channel, as the 2013 survey found 29 percent of attendees expecting an increase of more than 50 percent.

These results underline the role of the mobile channel as a crucial part of banking services in economies across the globe. Consumers are coming to expect instant, personalised and convenient service in every interaction with businesses in nearly every sector. The mobile channel is best placed to deliver this level of financial services to a demanding, educated and discerning customer base.

From Sibos 2014, Jonathan Kidd, Head of Mobile, Bank of Ireland and Geoffrey Keast, Digital Channels & Payments Director, Emea, Fiserv, discuss the mobile application launched by Bank Ireland two years ago.

Look for further results from the Sibos 2014 survey in an upcoming blog on The Point.

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