More than half of Americans have a mobile banking app installed, according to a poll from earlier this year. To be more precise, 55 percent have at least one full-service banking app on their smartphone, and 70 percent of respondents said they use the app at least once a week.
There are also people who check it much more often, as 16 percent reported using banking apps at least once a day.
But as airline travelers know, using a service a lot doesn’t mean you love the level of service.
The best banking app is one that is both useful and a real pleasure to use. Here are some more things worth knowing about what separates the good banking apps from ones that are mediocre or just plain bad.
Banking Apps Should Work
A banking app should never be so buggy that a user decides deleting the app is better than tolerating all the bugs. If a user tries to log in only to get error message after error message, they might throw their hands up and decide it’s not worth the trouble.
Upgrades are essential to apps, but each upgrade should make the banking app better instead of worse. If an app upgrade is rushed to the market, the bank that issued it is more likely to get angry and confused messages from customers who don’t understand why they can’t view their balance or find a nearby ATM.
When banking apps were new and novel, customers might have been willing to put up with more uncertainty. But as mentioned earlier, these apps are the norm right now, and users deserve the ability to log in and view their information without the app crashing eight times first.
It’s bad enough when something like a dating app won’t load properly, but people don’t check dating apps to find out if they have enough money to go out for drinks with friends after work. They check mobile banking apps for that, and if the information they need won’t load, then they have to put all their plans on hold.
Mobile Check Deposit
The days of people lining up at banks on Fridays to deposit their paycheck are long gone. Part of that is thanks to the rise of direct deposit, as 82 percent of American workers got paid without a paper check as of 2016.
When someone does get a check, though, mobile check deposit means they can skip getting in the car and driving to the nearest branch. All you need is a pen to endorse the check, plus a smartphone with a camera to take photos of the check. Banks with mobile deposit make life much simpler.
There are still some people who will prefer to go to their local bank and deal with a person rather than a computer, especially if they’re depositing a sizable check. But a mobile banking app without mobile check deposit has no reason for existing.
The best mobile banking app is one that can tell you when a credit transaction or withdrawal has gone through. Let’s say you use your debit card to get donuts for the office on the way to work. If that happens, you should get an app notification telling you the charge went through long before you park at work and bring the donuts to your grateful coworkers.
Banking apps should also have the flexibility to turn off certain notifications as well. Maybe you don’t want a pop-up reminder every time you get coffee at Starbucks because it reminds you that you made a New Year’s Resolution to cut back on caffeine.
In that case, you should be able to go into your app’s settings and turn off automatic notifications without much fuss.
Security That Makes Sense
Mobile banking should require more than a simple password to let you into your account. The use of biometrics is one way banks make sure your mobile banking app is secure.
Biometrics may sound like complicated spy stuff, but it’s not. If you press your thumb on your phone’s home button to get access, then guess what? You just used biometrics.
Passwords are easy for password cracking programs to guess, but thumbprints are a different ballgame.
A banking app should also be able to notify you quickly if it detects a possibly fraudulent transaction. It might be as simple as sending you a notification that someone used your debit card in Tennessee; is that OK?
If you’re vacationing in Tennessee when you get that message, you should be able to press a button and confirm everything is fine. If you aren’t, you should be able to easily confirm that you did not initiate that transaction.
Mobile Banking That Builds Credit
You can’t build a good credit score without first knowing what your credit score is, which is why more banking apps are letting customers view their credit score without having to log out of the app.
Banks want their customers to take out loans, and that’s harder to do with a poor credit score. Installment loans for bad credit are sometimes available for customers looking to boost their score, and smart banks will let customers apply for such loans right inside the app.
If instant approval isn’t possible, then the mobile banking app should at least keep the user posted on the status of their loan request. Applying for a loan is stressful enough as is, so there’s no sense leaving customers waiting for answers.
Go Beyond Banking Apps
Smartphones give the people who use them the power to carry around a miniature version of their bank right inside their pocket or purse. Someday soon, there may be a generation of kids who grow up and open accounts without ever once visiting a bank branch in person.
That may sound scary to people of a certain age, but it shouldn’t be. We should all expect banking apps to continue evolving right along with the rest of technology.
To stay up to date on those changes, log out of your app and look at our blog. We’ve got product reviews and more that will help you stay current.