Mobile users have presented banks with a series of problems, not least of which is how to match the amount of content, and the design, to the device they were using. Some early solutions were to send iPhone format out to an iPad, but perhaps blow it up so it filled much of the screen, even if the resolution was a little fuzzy.
A financial services provider today needs to support a wide range of products, through several brands, across multiple channels to different customer segments, said Dharmesh Mistry, co-founder of edge IPK, a firm which developed a method, called the user experience platform (UXP), for dynamic configuration of information to detect the user’s device and format presentations accordingly.
“I believe we are the only firm to have had a UXP since 2001,” said Mistry, who has worked in banking and technology. Other companies offering UXPs now include Oracle, Microsoft’s SharePoint and SAP which has silo-based implementations, he said. When Gartner reviewed the field, edge was the only small player among such giants as Microsoft, Oracle, IBM and Adobe.
“Some firms say we do mobile tablets and desktops, but they are separate,” he explained. “We do write once and display on multiple devices. The application knows whether the device is touch or keyboard.”
The company was acquired by Temenos, the financial systems group and its technology is available to Temenos clients and on a standalone basis. Dharmesh, now product director for the user experience platform at Temenos, said several financial firms approached mobile with plans to build a new channel for supporting it.
“Building a browser-based app is complex — you need a platform to do it,” he explained. From a bank’s perspective, it may be planning to provide similar functionality o different uses or devices. But if it were to implement each delivery mechanism in a silo, it would have to build each of them all over again for call centers, private wealth, retail banking and investments.
“The user interface has to be dynamic. You can say four or five columns on a desktop, three on a tablet, and one on a phone.”
When mobile was taking off two or three years ago, he warned banks about being short-sighted. The mobile world was changing fast from phones to tablets to Google glass. In the future delivery may move to the TV, which it has already in Europe more than in the US.
“Things change quickly in mobile; while you think of getting an app out in 12 months, by then the customer behavior may have changed. If you want something that totally exploits a new platform, it will take a few months, but it will take no time if you use are responsive design applets. This represents the new trend in user experience. People realized mobile isn’t 420×280 because screen sizes change.”
Responsive design says that if this much resolution is available, the screen since will be laid out in a certain way. Rather than create separate designs for each screen, it defines break points that automatically handle different screen sizes with appropriate displays.
The user experience can also be both device and location aware, so a user in a branch on a connected PC gets the full range of information. When a user turns to a personal iPad, the device will display information but not allow local storage. Outside the building, say at a Starbucks, the iPad will have its functionality restricted further. Similar restrictions on functionality are also used in health care where an emergency room worker has immediate access to information but the levels are restricted in other parts of the building and further reduced outside the hospital’s walls.
Mistry said mobile presentation is still at an early stage. Temenos is getting requests from Latin American banks for designs that can work on narrow bandwidth.
“The bandwidth for links to branches in Latin America is small, so they can’t afford a rich Facebook-type application. You have to optimize it for the pipe.”
In Asia, OperaMini is a popular browser. It takes a Web page and almost turns it into a photo of the page and allows refresh of individual fields for fast loading of data.
The dynamic presentation software is available through the iTunes store. He expects that some banks and partners will offer applications to work on it for areas like foreign exchange trading or forecasting.
“We can’t hire enough developers to develop all the ideas. What better way than to get an ecosystem to do it for us.”
UXP also provides information to the firms that deploy it through integration with a business intelligence (BI) suite.
“We can tell them that a user came in and spent five minutes on his desktop and looked at two statements and went out. Then he came on a mobile six times at 10 p.m. “We can marry it with the Temenos T24 banking system and start doing some profiling and then do some targeted selling drawing on with omni-channel behavior. I expect that will happen this year.”
The UXP can also be programmed to understand what a user wants. So when Mistry logs into his current account from a mobile near the end of the month when his credit card payments are due, it will push out the statement, not a list of accounts.
“Mobile user predicate experiences on apps; they expect everything to be instantaneous. They don’t think of the apps all coming across the network, so you have to be smart and make the apps quick.”
Mobile functions offer the opportunity for financial firms to do multi-variate testing to see what customers like, valuable in acquiring new customers, he said. Banks can learn about new behaviors, such as people who are watching TV with an iPad or phone and using them to get more information about a TV program.
“You aren’t going to put banking on TV because it is a social medium, but you might see a programs about moving abroad or do-it-yourself and you might push to contact through a secondary device so you don’t interrupt the TV experience for everyone else. You can use a QR code or synch with sounds.”
One bank spent $100 million trying to build a user experience platform and failed, he said.
“Banks have to focus more on what they want to achieve than on how they want to achieve it. Banks aren’t software companies and things are moving fast. We spent 12 years building our platform.”