Retail banking is one area where the shift to mobile has produced dramatic changes in behaviour. According to British Banking Association (BBA) figures, by 2010 the number of transactions carried out online already outstripped the number being carried out in branches, but the number of mobile transactions was much smaller. Fast forward to 2015 and the number of mobile transactions with British banks has increased tenfold to 895 million (thanks in part to the invention of tablets). This is more than double the number of interactions in branches and exceeds the 705 million non-mobile internet transactions.
The same BBA report has predicted that by 2020 the number of mobile transactions will be more than 2 billion and branch transactions will be down to just 268 million. But all of this is in the context of a rise in the total number of interactions, said Kevin Hepburn, IT Director, Equiniti Investment Solutions, speaking at the recent Equiniti Share Registration Conference.
Internet banking has already overtaken branch transactions, so are they like-for-like transactions that have been cannibalised? No, they are not. People engage with their own accounts much more. They look at their accounts once, twice, three times a week, rather than once a month – they are becoming more and more engaged.
"But branches will become almost niche as more and more transactions are being pushed online. They will still be around as long as there's cash and they will still have a marketing role, but physical retail banking will change immeasurably in the next five years," he told the conference.
Today on Equiniti's own platforms, during the day most activity comes from desktop users while people are at work, though there is a gradual shift towards more activity on mobile phones. After 6pm, however, activity switches to tablets as people no longer tend to browse on desktops at home.
So how does this affect what we do in share registration? As with many businesses, Equiniti is interested in servicing as many transactions and getting to as wide an audience as possible, whether this is through mobile, desktop, tablet, TV or wearable technology.
"People use these devices, so we're trying to make the services we provide as easy to use on those devices as we can," said Kevin. "People still access sites that aren't optimised via mobile but if they don't have a good experience they won't use them again. We want to drive self-service and we want the experience we offer to shareholders to be as good as it can. The only way we can do that is by sending our services to the devices they are using."
There are two main ways to ensure you are engaging with your audience on the devices they are accessing – responsive design and apps.
Responsive sites are websites that re-size to fit the device that you are viewing it on. Nearly every content-driven website will do this nowadays and designing responsive sites is comparatively easy when you are just dealing with content like words and pictures. However, the process can become more complicated when there are transactions to factor in. Kevin said:
It's very different with transactional material. You have to think about the size of tables and how you present information. You don't want the 'apply' button to be obscured or the terms and conditions. There's a much bigger decision to go through about how you want to deploy mobile transactions.
"The process we go through asks, 'Can we make it responsive? Can we change the size of the full desktop so that it fits all devices?' If this is too difficult then we will consider a mobile website. Then we consider if you put it on a mobile application development platform (MADP – software that allows you to rapidly build, test and deploy apps), or lastly, do you build a native app? Native apps are great and you can do things you can't do on a website but they're expensive and they have to be maintained for different devices and operating systems, so you need a really strong user case to want to go down this route."
Equiniti.com was launched in 2014 and was Equiniti's first responsive site working across all devices.
Shareview, Equiniti's largest transactional site, is in development and the challenge this presents is preparing and testing for all the devices that must be supported to be fully accessible to all customers across generations of smartphones and tablets and incorporating lots of different operating systems and browsers.
"All the transactions available on the full desktop site – from change of address to change of mandate – are available on Shareview mobile which will be launched in the first half of 2016. We also plan to have a Shareview app developed for later next year because we see it as complementary because there is a strong user case. It is enquiry-based and you can use some device features like notifications to prompt people to do things like vote, and sign up for e-comms."
Speaking at the same conference, Andrew Japp, Client Director of Webcredible, which has worked with Equiniti on its Shareview platform, summed up the importance of putting the customer at the centre of your decision-making when it comes to using technology.
He said: "Customers want to be able to engage with their shares at any point during the day, and they want to be doing it in an intelligent way that really works for them."
Choosing the right channels and making them accessible to all is an important part of this.
For more on this topic please contact your Relationship Manager.