Kiwibank app fights 'soulless' banking
All banks want their customers to love them – but the drawcard feature of Kiwibank's first mobile banking app may make banking relationships even more intimate.
Due to be released this week, the bank's iPhone app has the unique feature, when it comes to mobile banking, of assigning customers their own online relationship manager to help deal with any queries via text or email.
The feature is already available on desktop, where Kiwibank head of online Peter Fletcher-Dobson said it had helped warm the "grey, soulless place" of internet banking. But the personal touch had seen some rather unexpected consequences – like the woman who took to Facebook to voice her infatuation for her online manager.
"It was embarrassing for him, but it was amazing to see that level of passion which you don't normally associate with banking," Fletcher-Dobson said.
The relationship managers are aimed at combating the "banking shuffle", something Kiwibank's research showed was a pet peeve for customers.
"One of the big things was, I don't want to be treated like a number, or I don't want to have to repeat my story to nameless, faceless people in a contact centre," Fletcher-Dobson said.
Development of the app, which contains all the standard features of internet banking, was spurred on by a rapid increase in mobile uptake.
"In the next two to three years, mobile is probably going to pick up as the channel of choice for accessing services online," said Fletcher-Dobson.
Mobile usage of Kiwibank online has increased 140 per cent in the last 12 months, compared with 15 per cent growth in desktop internet banking.
The mobile trend has caused banks to compete vigorously to corner the growing market, with Kiwibank the last of the big five to enter the scene.
Fletcher-Dobson claimed its tardiness in coming to market stemmed from the bank's desire to offer a quality product.
"We didn't want to just rush out and put a cut-down version of internet banking on to a mobile phone," he said.
An Android smartphone app is also on the way.
The Dominion Post