When we have a conversation about mobile account opening with someone who hasn’t heard of it before, it usually doesn’t take very long to get to the question:
“So it’s an app?”
Today most people are hardwired to equate “mobile” with “mobile application.” They’ve been conditioned by hundreds of startup stories–Twitter, Venmo, Snapchat–and yes, by their own smartphone habits; according to the mobile analytics firm Flurry, mobile device users spend 86% of their time on applications. But just because a mobile application is the best way to get your Flappy Bird fix doesn’t mean that it’s the best for everything. In fact, for mobile account opening, it’s doesn’t make much sense at all.
Imagine this: you’re a consumer, and you click on a link from your institution’s mobile website or mobile banking application to apply for a new account. You are prompted to download something called an account opening application. Uh-oh, sounds like a hassle, you think. If you’re impatient like most consumers, it would probably end right there. If you’re unusually tolerant and do click continue, you are then redirected to the download process for your respective device. You wait for the application to download. You launch it. The app doesn’t know what product you wanted in the first place, so you scroll through a list of options to find it again. Finally you start the application process. Six weeks later you realize the app is still on your phone. You delete it in frustration.
Now imagine mobile account opening on the mobile web. You click on a link from your institution’s mobile website or mobile banking site to apply for a new account. You are redirected to an application. That’s it.
Although for repeat use cases like mobile banking a mobile application is still preferable to the mobile web, for mobile account opening a mobile web solution is best because consumers are unlikely to download an application for a single use. And if the mobile web solution uses Responsive Web Design, there is one additional powerful benefit: it works on any device, no iOS/Android bifurcation required.
We define a mobile account opening solution as a platform optimized for mobile devices that can perform the five core functions of online account opening: data capture, qualification, identity verification, account funding, and account creation. Good mobile account opening solutions leverage native mobile capabilities, such as the device camera and touch screen, to make those five core functions easier. Here are a few features and approaches characteristic of mobile account opening:
All of these features are achievable either on an application or through the mobile web. We’ve opted to the latter, because we believe that the mobile web creates a better user experience. And we aren’t alone in our preference. Some technologists believe that as user experience design improves, the mobile web will grow in importance and perhaps even one day dominate the app. So it’s a good idea to start trying to rewire your meaning of mobile now.
Melanie is a member of the first class of Venture for America, a two-year fellowship that seeks to revitalize American cities through entrepreneurship by matching recent college graduates with start-ups.You can reach her at email@example.com or on twitter @mfriedri.