US consumers are benefiting significantly from the ease and usefulness of electronic banking within the past decade. Smart phones, tablets and computers have made managing personal finance that much easier; no more having to walk into the local bank to deposit a check. The growth of electronic banking in the US is changing ways consumers are handling their money.

According to Mintel research, approximately one third of all US households own a tablet. Ownership is especially prevalent among people aged 25-34 and 35-44 of whom 49% and 45% own one, respectively. However, few tablet owners conduct banking transactions on their tablets, preferring instead to use their computers or their smartphones. Why is the consumer still reluctant to use their tablets for the same electronic banking purposes?

Among people who don’t use smartphones and/or computer to bank, security concerns are the biggest reason why they don’t. Among people who don’t use tablets to bank, however, the biggest reason is because they don’t see a reason to do so.

Don’t blame it on the tablets though. Tablets offer the mobility of phones and enough of the capacity of computers to allow customers to conduct their banking transactions and run financial apps. Their larger screens also lend themselves to easier reading and easier navigation than a phone. They can improve the customer service experience by making it easier for the customer to interact with a representative. And yet there seems to be a relative reluctance for users to engage in this method as opposed to using their PCs or phones.

To that end, banks not only need to expand their tablet functionality in a way that gives customers a reason to use tablets, but also to make it easier for customers to use tablets in the context of the banking they want to do now. They also need to recognize the increasing importance of tablets and the increasing need to ensure that customer experience across all devices is the same.

Slowly but surely, this recognition is coming, and some banks—notably Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase—have redesigned and simplified their websites so they will be easier to navigate on a tablet. They are also playing to tablets’ advantages by including more content that is easier for people to read at their leisure and that will help them better understand their financial needs and how the bank can meet them.

Tablets are only going to grow in popularity and people may well begin to rely on them as a primary form of communication and information. Customers who want to —and can—interact with their banks seamlessly across devices are more likely to remain customers. Banks should be focusing on developing tablet functionality that not only mirrors the capabilities offered by other devices, but also extends them.

Robyn does research and analysis and writes in-depth reports for use by clients in and associated with the financial services industry. Her most recent topics include Retail Banks and Credit Unions and Canadian Savings and Investing.

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