Citigroup Inc. is in the process of consolidating a number of mobile banking initiatives and solutions. This past summer, as what I would think is a precursor to these moves, it consolidated its Internet and mobile groups.
The driver behind all of this? Cost? Nope, but consolidating operations will certainly bring cost benefits. Agility? Not really, but fewer, integrated applications will yield higher levels of agility. Customer appeal? Yes – Citi’s objective is to make mobile technology more appealing to customers and would-be customers. Citi believes a more cohesive, attractive mobile strategy and technology would support both retention and drive deposits.
Banks worldwide are rushing to provide mobile banking services under the naive — and erroneous — view that consumers are eager to make financial transactions via their mobile devices. According to Gartner’s 2007 survey of U.K. and U.S. consumers, only 10% of respondents said that they were “willing to perform financial transactions on a mobile phone if privacy/security is guaranteed.”
In responding to the considerable hype around mobile banking, many banks are focusing on the stand-alone technology requirements of mobile banking applications without taking into account the local market demand for banking services and the consumer usage of distribution channels (Gartner clients, please see “How to Get Started With an Enterprise Mobile Retail Financial Services Approach” and “Gartner Survey: Consumers Weigh in on Multichannel Integration, Web 2.0 and Mobile Banking“).
Instead of such a stand-alone approach, Gartner recommends that banks first develop an enterprise mobile financial services strategy. Development of such a strategy requires strategists to think across LOBs and customer segments — a process that must address and incorporate the role of mobile devices and the networks that support mobile financial products and services as part of a multichannel environment. This appears to be what Citi is in the process of doing.