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To wait or not to wait before you create the mobile social bank

It’s strange that I write yesterday about the issue of
getting customers to commit to mobile as their primary bank account, and the
next day we host a meeting in Warsaw that talks about innovations from Moven to
Fidor, Simple to mBank and the reaction of some of the audience is: oh, it’s
alright for the kids.

The attitude that prevailed was one of people who felt that much
of the mobile innovation focus is upon the iGen and is not relevant for their gen.

In particular, by way of illustration, several of the audience
are users of mBank, the mobile social bank in Poland.  mBank offers two versions today: the old and the new mBank.

The old mBank offered a simple transactional interface in a traditional
online banking form.  The new mBank
offers an amazing rich and functional experience from Facebook banking through to
mobile banking.

Here’s the rub: who’s using the old mBank and who’s using the

According to my straw poll of the audience, or at least two
of them, they felt that much of the Facebook and mobile functionality was noise, and interfered with the ability
to manage their money.

They wanted simple interfaces that just showed them their
debits and credits and balances.

According to the same two mature gentlemen, their children
are happily moving to the new mBank though.

The issue is that those who have the money are their
generation and those who don’t are the next generation.

So I guess that answers yesterday’s question: we need to
wait for the  iGen before this really
takes off and, if that’s the case, the high cost of redeveloping for social
mobile banking is so high that it’s not worth it if the audience is students and

But that would miss a key point.

Not all social mobiles are students and youth.

There are many mature users of such services and even those
who reject such fluff and noise today may find that they are forced to use such
mobile social capabilities tomorrow, at the very least in order to keep in
touch with their children.

So this is not that simple.

Or is it?

I don’t know. Time for a cappuccino.


About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, the Finanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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  • Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • Historically ‘banking’ has conflated two requirements – safe store of value and transactional services i.e. payments. At the wholesale/interbank level, payments processing has to have similar characteristics to safestored value, because the aggregated values are large (very). Convenience is sacrificed for safety. But at the retail (low value) part of the picture, convenience has far greater economic value.
    Having a few pounds, euros, dollars on a prepaid card or in a closed loop account doesn’t put the consumer’s personal balance sheet at risk, and is already second nature to many of us. But few of us, young or mature, are quite ready to commit the salary, the savings, or the education grant to ‘mobile’.
    That said, I have been using an internet-only bank for years. I suspect soon I shall have to move my account, as the bank simply isn’t keeping up with the ‘basic’ services offered by the mainstream providers. It’s still a scale business.
    I wonder if the diversification we are seeing is generational; or at least in the short term, and in the developed economies, it’s more about the value at risk. We’ll use traditional banks for store and processing of large value, innovator banks for convenience and low value transactions.

  • Don Davis

    It’s more about bank brand or loyalty. The iGen folks will have money in a few years and you want them to already like your brand.