Standard Chartered prioritizes customer-centric mobile thinking
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Standard Chartered prioritizes customer-centric mobile thinking

Graham Jarvis – January 2013

Mobile devices are forcing banks to think about making financial transactions faster and more convenient for customers on the move.

Executives at Standard Chartered Bank have been quick to grasp how the proliferation of mobile devices around the globe has triggered a major shift in banking customer behavior. And that has presented the Asia, Africa, and Middle East-focused group with the chance to stand out from many of its competitors as a technology leader and innovator.

“We recognized that mobile creates a significant opportunity to improve services and convenience for our customers,” explains David Lynch, group head of consumer banking operations at Standard Chartered. “But there was also an understanding that the pace of the shift to mobile was going to be different in each of the particular markets in which we’re present.”

“When customers are on the move, their needs will be different to when they are sitting at their desks or at home.”

While smartphone adoption may be at a mature stage in developed economies, that is certainly not the case in many of the developing markets in which Standard Chartered operates. And the bank has a considerable pedigree in serving such diverse needs. “In the early stages of mobile banking, we led with SMS, and even today SMS meets certain customer needs on feature-phones and provides alerts on smartphones,” says Lynch. That said, the company’s focus going forward is firmly on native and mobile web apps, and the new patterns of banking they inspire.

Mobile devices are forcing banks to think about the context in which customers interact with them, Lynch says. They have to recognize that when customers are on the move, their needs will be different to when they are sitting at their desks or at home. As a result, Standard Chartered is focusing on improving the convenience and speed of interaction that mobile customers expect. In some markets this goes beyond pure banking: for example, customers in some countries are using the bank’s apps to locate restaurants nearby that accept Standard Chartered credit cards or to take advantage of “hot deals” at retailers and share those with their social groups. “We created smartphone apps such as Breeze Places, Breeze Living and Breeze Good Life for such purposes, putting enormous emphasis on design and simplicity — you can’t build a cut-down version of your website and expect it to work in the same way,” says Lynch. Another example of compelling design, but in more familiar financial services territory, is the recently launched Breeze Trade, an app for mobile equities trading.

Lynch says there are plenty of lessons to be drawn from Standard Chartered’s experience to date. One is the need to draw on a diverse app development skills base. In assembling the team to work on its Breeze series, the company pulled in individuals from outside the traditional world of banking. Experts in design, psychology and foreign languages were paired with people with “hardcore engineering skills.” This enabled the team to ensure the apps were truly compelling, he says.

 

Another critical element has been to ensure customers appreciate that their mobile banking and payment transactions are completely secure. A cutting-edge example of this has recently been introduced to Standard Chartered customers in Singapore, where the bank has launched a series of credit and debit cards embedded with secure token generation which authenticates mobile and online transactions — an innovation that sets it apart from rivals’ security approaches.


Such developments have not gone unrecognized in the banking industry. In both 2011 and 2012, Global Finance magazine presented Standard Chartered with the award for the world’s Best Consumer Internet Bank — a success story that stems not from any blind focus on what technology can deliver, Lynch highlights, but on putting the customer firmly at the center of all its mobile thinking.

First published January 2013
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