Banking on a mobile phoneAs experts in digital marketing, I am sure you were all aware that Thursday 8 November was World Usability Day -a world wide event celebrating the importance of in usability in the digital world. 

This year’s theme was financial services and few would argue that usability was anything other than vital in this market. 

My colleagues at System Concepts contributed a video of interviews with potential customers and some key players in the mobile financial market in which the two mobile financial services providers interviewed were Vodafone and O2. 

This set me thinking: Do we trust mobile companies to give us banking, more than we trust banks to give us mobile services?

Usability is more than "making life easy"

I have pointed out in previous years that subtitling World Usability Day as ‘making life easy’ is misleading and trivialises usability. 

Of course, there are lots of times when it’s nice that things are easy but given the complexities of financial services, making websites ‘easy’ isn’t actually essential. 

What people want is websites which work for them, where they can perform transactions effectively and efficiently, with an acceptable level of effort.  ‘Easy’ is a bonus rather than an essential in this environment. 

Most importantly they want to be able to trust the systems and the systems providers.

It was therefore particularly interesting to me that the two mobile financial services providers interviewed were Vodafone and O2, neither traditionally thought of as banks (or indeed providers of financial services), certainly not in the UK.

Do we trust mobile providers more than we trust banks?

However, I understand that in sub-Saharan Africa, Vodacom (part of the Vodafone group) is trusted far more readily than banks and its digital wallet service is apparently highly successful

We tend to think of this as symptom of third world institutions and possibly fears of corruption, but maybe it’s actually a recognition that the mobile telecom providers have generally speaking delivered what they promised – i.e. reasonably reliable mobile systems, whereas the banks …

Whilst banks in the west appear to be far more solid and reliable than their third world fellows, we all know that they have let us down rather badly in recent years.  In financial services, trust is king and I would guess that in mobile financial services, trust is even more significant. 

Whilst we may not believe that our banks are actively seeking to defraud us, events of the past few years have shown that the needs of customer and of citizens who have had to bail them out do not appear to be high on their agendas.

Is it any wonder in mobile banking that we seem to be trusting mobile companies to give us banking rather than banking companies to give us mobile services?

What is the future for mobile banking?

Am I reading this situation wrongly? Are other factors at play here? Who do you think we should trust with our mobile money?

Tom Stewart

Published 22 November, 2012 by Tom Stewart

Tom Stewart is Executive Chairman at System Concepts, and a guest blogger at Econsultancy. System Concepts can be followed on Twitter here, and Tom is also on Google+.

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Comments (3)



Mobile banking is still relatively new. I personally do not trust it fully just yet. But that said, all transactions are covered by insurance and anti fraud regulations much the same as regular online or offline transactions so it is fairly risk free.

over 5 years ago



In my opinion, mobile banking is very convenience for me. I can charge my bank account everywhere I hold the mobile phone.

over 5 years ago


George, Project Manager at Penna

If you're happy to bank over the telephone then you should be happy to use mobile data. I've heard it's much easier to listen in to a phone call than it is to crack an encrypted data stream(!) The vast majority of us are happy to use 128-bit website encryption to entrust our credit card details to retailers and I have never seen any difference with banking.

What bothers me is the level of availability. I lay the blame for this on Apple, who appear to have convinced various banks in the UK that native iPhone apps are the *only* way forward. First Direct, for example, actually told me that they have no plans whatsoever to create a service accessible by Android devices. ING Direct, on the other hand, have ditched apps and made a mobile optimised website, accessible presumably from any device. Kudos to the Dutch!

over 5 years ago

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