Mobile Apps for the Convenience of Customers
Emma Okonji writes that global technology evolution has enhanced creative thinking in mobile apps development, while offering customers the convenience in all financial transactions
Mobile software applications, also known as mobile apps, are key drivers of technology, designed to run on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. While most mobile apps come as pre-installed software, bundled into the device, such as web browser, mapping program or as an app for the purchase of online items, some are developed and installed through downloads, to execute commands and instructions on certain specifics, which cut across various transactions in banking, telecommunications, insurance, oil and gas, among others. The functions of any given app, are, however, tailored towards ease of use and convenience for the end users, who are customers.
For instance, apps designed to drive banking transactions, bring a lot of ease and convenience to the customers. Before the evolution of mobile apps for financial transactions, bank customers were compelled to visit banks and queue for several hours, before accomplishing any transaction they wanted to carry out on their accounts. Some have to travel long distances and may end up arriving at the nearest bank, when the bank had just closed their doors to customers after the official banking hours.
Some bank customers have had nasty experiences on Fridays, when they tried rushing to their nearest bank branch, just to transfer money to their business partners or loved ones, only to get to the bank and they were told by security guards that the bank had just closed. For them, it was a huge disappointment since they have to wait till Monday when the bank will reopen for business.
But now with mobile app, a customer can conveniently transfer money from the mobile phone to business partners or to loved ones from the comfort of their homes, offices, or any public place of interest, without necessarily visiting the bank, and the money is received instantly without stress. Such is the ease and convenience brought about by mobile apps in the financial sector.
Mr. Ibe Onuoha, a Lagos-based businessman, met with a couple of his friends one Friday evening. The group was discussing ways of advancing their respective businesses when Onuoha’s phone rang. It was a creditor he was supposed to have paid earlier that day. He angrily dropped the phone to continue the point he was making before the call came in.
Seeing his displeasure, his friends asked him why he did not pick the call. Onuoha mumbled that the caller was his creditor, adding that his problem was his inability to repay the creditor at that time of the day. It could be that Onuoha was unable to pay at that time because of his busy business schedule.
One of his friends among them, simply pulled out his mobile phone and took Onouha through the workings of banking apps. He offered to transfer the money immediately to his creditor with an understanding that he would reimburse him afterwards. In a matter of minutes, Onuoha was convinced on the idea of utilising a mobile app for his financial transactions. He was amazed at the sheer convenience and the ease with which one could make so many transactions at a go. He had hitherto thought erroneously that downloading an app or using it would amount to huge bank charges.
Indeed, technology has transformed how customers interface with their financial institutions. Not so long ago, customers could only make cash transactions from the branch where their accounts were domiciled. Fast forward to the present, now customers don’t even need to visit the bank, with a simple app, they can get their banking transactions sorted out conveniently.
Convenience with mobile app
At the centre of app development, is the functionality and convenience it brings to customers. Apps are meant to significantly deliver enhanced service delivery and user experience without customers having to necessarily engage their banks physically. This is the defining quality and advantage that the newly relaunched Stanbic IBTC integrated mobile banking app is offering the market.
Mobile devices have aided financial inclusion as financial transactions have been on the rise on the mobile platform thus saving time spent by customers juggling busy schedules.
Data released recently by the Royal Bank of Scotland, illustrate how convenient mobile banking is for consumers. The data revealed that downloading and using mobile apps to manage their money on the move save their customers 96 million hours, as well as 24 million miles of travel every year. For individuals, it amounts to 24 hours saved annually and 73 miles of journey.
In Nigeria, there is an upward progression in terms of how Nigerians adopt the use of internet via GSM platform.
In November 2016, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), released a figure of 93 million active internet subscribers in the country. With this encouraging outlook, it is hardly a surprise that mobile apps are rapidly being developed to suit the needs of mobile users and it behooves on smart businesses to introduce these apps to keep their customers satisfied and ensure repeat business.
Reliability about mobile app
Yet another feature of a great app is its reliability. Customers must be able to use apps at all times whenever they want without having to worry about downtimes or the possibility of the app crashing. Stability and reliability are very important features a banking app must have to give users confidence and the assurance that their banking transactions are not compromised. Hence, the quality of integrity and security of the app. Stanbic IBTC Bank apparently understands all of this, which explains why its app was developed with some of the highest standards of quality to guarantee the integrity of transactions.
Banks’ initiative on mobile apps
Several banks have come up with different banking applications for their customers, for the ease of carrying out hitch-free financial transactions. For Stanbic IBTC, its mobile banking app, modeled to promote customers’ joy and comfort, has been redesigned to run on iOS, Android, iPad and even desktop computers, enabling customers to conduct a wide range of financial transactions with ease and comfort.
The new app is feature-rich, with the capacity to conduct funds transfer, bills payment, airtime purchase, cheque services, mobile money and lifestyle services. Its other features that are unique to the bank are: monitoring pension asset management, checking mutual funds account, crediting mutual funds account, stockbroking, monitoring the value of stocks, crediting account for stock purchase and authorizing stock purchase and sales. In so doing, customers are able to save cost and time they would ordinarily expense in physical visits to the bank’s branch located across the country.
The ability to monitor one’s pension asset, which the app provides, helps customers to track their pension contributions. Through the app, customers can obtain information on the movement of funds into or out of the account. With such information at customers’ fingertips, issues around transactions can be resolved at the quickest time possible. The app also helps customers determine their return on investment (RoI) on the go, especially those who monitor the value of stocks. Such information is useful in making informed business decisions concerning the capitalmarket.
The app is easy to log-on and navigate and it is available for free downloads to both customers and non-customers of the bank.
Stanbic IBTC Bank is one of the first bank in Nigeria to link its mobile app to its Internet banking service, enabling customers to access a host of Internet banking options through their smartphones from the same USSD platform. In essence, the inability to carry out transactions simply because one’s laptop or desktop could not be moved on the go has been circumvented conveniently to allow easy consummation of transactions through smart phones and devices.
The channel supports a wide array of financial transactions such as funds transfer both within and outside the bank’s portal, bills payment and foreign exchange transfers to banks within and outside Nigeria, among others.
The Chief Executive, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Demola Sogunle, said that APPyness, which is the bank’s latest financial software app, is a viable option the bank has explored to reach the unbanked in the country, which is put at 90 million people. “Using technology provides us with the opportunity to develop competitive products and services that will help bring the unbanked into the banking system. It is not cost effective to try to open branches in every part of the country. But the moment we deploy technology via internet and mobile banking, it becomes easier for customers, even those in places where we do not have a physical presence, to access financial products and services. It is very easy for us to do and we would continue to push the technology to reach the unbanked population,” Sogunle said.
Executive Director, Personal and Business Banking, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Babatunde Macaulay, said the redesign of the functionality of the mobile application is based on customer feedback, which indicated the desire for a simple and very functional app that offers more than basic financial transactions.
According to him, the money deposit bank is one of many banks in Nigeria that is continuously exploring ways to bring new and innovative products and services to their customers. Customers are increasingly desirous of having access to financial services when and where they want them. Mobile applications go a long way in meeting these demands. As the needs of customers evolve, so will the innovative services and products of the bank continue to evolve, Macaulay assured customers.
Mobile app, no doubt, is making banking transactions a lot easier across financial institutions and banks must adopt this evolving technology, in order to provide customers with best of banking experience and convenience.