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?