The use of mobile apps is a given for many of us today—so much so that I wonder what I ever did without them. Clearly, though, I am not alone. Consider that Flurry Analytics reported a 115% year-over-year growth in overall mobile app use last year alone.

The banking industry has not been immune to the popularity of apps, and we have seen a rise in the development and use of mobile banking apps among traditional banks and digital disruptors.

The right apps help address digital customers’ expectations for immediacy and accessibility of essential information and services. And as banks evolve to become Everyday Banks, the provision of mobile apps will be key to their ability to connect customers to an ecosystem of insight and services aligned with their financial and non-financial lives.

I ran across a headline about banking mobile apps that suggests an aspect of this discussion that does not get as much attention as it should. Information Age recently reported on Gartner’s projection that one-quarter of the top global banks will have a customer app store in just two years.

This has me thinking about the fact that the success of mobile banking apps is not just about creating apps. It is as much—if not more—about what happens next.

In other words, banks cannot take a “build it and they will come” mentality here. The market is too crowded, digital disruptors are too agile and customers are too savvy. What this means for banks is that they must ensure that they are extending their thinking beyond development when it comes to digital banking and mobile apps.

In addition to a strong focus on app development aligned with customers’ needs, desires and behaviors, banks should take the long view of their mobile app strategy. These questions are important to explore:

  • Distribution. How should we distribute our apps—via public store, website or bank app store, or combination of these?
  • Communication. Do our customers know how our apps can help them?
  • Engagement. How can we sustain customers’ interest and use of our apps?
  • Distinction. Are we doing what it takes to stay ahead of our competition?

Mobile apps are changing banking in ways that we could not have imagined even two years ago—and they will continue to do so. Like other areas of the digital transformation in banking, getting ahead in mobile apps will require a strategic approach rooted in strong customer understanding.

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