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Mobiles inspire banks

Mobile devices have inspired an entire industry to get closer to its customers, with some people already seeing the results.

Mobiles inspire banks

The financial services industry, including insurance and superannuation companies, is now following the lead of major banks by using smartphones and mobile devices to improve customer engagement and boost loyalty.

The Commonwealth Bank in December became the first of Australia’s major banks to release an Android-based payments system using Near Field Communications (NFC) technology and Samsung’s Galaxy S4 smartphone. At about the same time, Westpac announced plans to provide Galaxy S4 users with similar tap-and-go capabilities. ANZ bank is also in the process of rolling out a payment system for mobile devices with NFC capabilities.

“We have successfully driven this innovation, working with MasterCard and Samsung, to bring our customers mobile payment solutions of the future, today,” said Angus Sullivan, Executive General Manager Cards, Payments, Analytics & Retail Strategy, Commonwealth Bank. “Mobile wallets are poised to become a reality with the introduction of Tap & Pay, as customers embrace having greater control and access to their finances.”

It’s clear there’s customer appetite for more innovation across the wider financial services sector. According to Google’s 2013 Our Mobile Planet Smartphone Research, 43 per cent of Australians now access banking and financial services on their mobile device.

“Financial services companies are embracing connected devices to achieve greater productivity, greater levels of insight into customer behavior, and to provide a greater degree of personalisation and convenience,” explains Rocky Scopelliti, Group General Manager, Financial Services at Telstra.

A case for content: HostPlus

A case in point is hospitality superannuation fund HostPlus that now provides a smartphone version of the fund’s MORE magazine.

The approach is designed to encourage members to become more engaged by integrating videos, web-links and augmented reality services into the devices most Australians carry permanently at their side.

“Readership of our offline MORE magazine wasn’t exactly declining but it had been stagnating and we wanted to see if we could shift these figures,” says Umberto Mecchi, Executive Manager of Strategy and Marketing at HostPlus. “We also knew that visits to our website via iPads had increased exponentially, by almost 400 per cent between 2011 and 2012, highlighting an incredible growth area.”

First released in mid 2013, then re-released in September 2013, the mobile device version of MORE uses articles, videos and augmented reality features to give members information relevant to their investments, lifestyles and careers.

“Our key objectives were to increase readership and engagement by evolving our MORE program of communication to include a stronger digital presence,” says Umberto Mecchi. “From a content perspective we aimed to reinforce HostPlus as an active supporter of, and the dedicated fund for, the hospitality, tourism, recreation and sporting industries.”

Caring for mobile customers

HostPlus’s approach to deliver MORE content to smartphones is part of a broader communications strategy that includes websites, social media and traditional printed communication.

“In 2014 and beyond we understand that the user experience has fundamentally changed – almost 13 per cent of visits to our website come from mobile devices – and members of all ages expect everything to work on their mobiles,” Mr Mecchi said.

“We’re thinking about how it evolves in the context of delivering relevant content to members via their preferred channels.”

In summary
  • Google’s 2013 Our Mobile Planet Smartphone Research states 43 per cent of Australians already use mobile devices to access their financial institution.
  • Insurance and superannuation companies have made mobility a key priority following the success of leading Australian banks.
  • Opportunities include boosting member loyalty and engagement.
  • Customised content and personalisation are key strategies to increased levels of customer engagement.
  • HostPlus is one superfund pursuing a mobile innovation strategy to engage members and offer new services.
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