Study: UK Online Bankers Should Rally Around PC

Retail banking firms in the UK looking to ramp up theire-commerce operations will need to organize theirfinancial services around PC-based transactions and account management, according to a study released Monday by ForresterResearch.

Because of the PC focus, Forrester said other banking access points,including brick-and-mortar branches, will increasingly be relegated to a”supporting role” among overall user services.

“As banks seek customer migration online, [their] traditional channel management must evolve to support customer relationships based on the PC,”said Forrester analyst Charlotte Hamilton.

According to Hamilton, financial institutions will need to “align their existing channel management with newmanagers for transactions, personal finance management and advice. These newroles demand that channel managers support customer migration online forbetter service.”

The study, “Streamlining Multichannel Banking,” said that the current crop of Web-centered banking services are not likely to succeed in luring customers to move transactions to the Web because few firms offer basicfunctionality, such as electronic transfers and online bill payments.

Personal Service

Despite these obstacles, Forrester predicts that PC-based banking services will dominate UK retail banking in the coming years, offering customers financial management and advice alongside electronic transactions.

To edge out competition, banking firms will need to offer a wide range of standard financial transactions online as well as personalized services tailored for individual customers.

A key component identified by the report for multichannel banks to improvetheir customer service model is the ability to provide automated advice.

“Both the telephone and branch networks must support online service,” thestudy advised. “The branch must become a meeting place where customersdiscuss their finances with advisory staff as kiosks take transactions awayfrom branch cashiers.”

PCs vs. Handhelds

Although UK financial firms are escalating their efforts to launch serviceson handheld devices and through interactive digital television (iDTV), thereport found these platforms are not able to measure up with the PC Web foronline banking.

While wireless application protocol (WAP) adds “little value” for banking, the report said, financial institutions would be well-served to explore the core functions of mobile devices, including portability, messaging and telephone services.

In addition, the banks should offer simple callbacks by telephone, cultivate loyalty through timely messages and offer location-based information, if they want to make handhelds a viable option for customers.

TV Banking?

Meanwhile, Forrester said the chief stumbling block for the adoption ofiDTV-based Web banking is its often “prohibitive” cost. Instead, the studysaid larger firms that offer iDTV banking should focus their efforts oncustomers who are not using the Web via a personal computer.

“Banks must use iDTV advertising for building their brands and productlaunches, and they should join retails to create content for iDTV, offeringeducation on financial services,” said the report. “IDTV sites must stillrefer multi-device customers to the PC for financial management and advice.”

To assemble projections about the expansion of banking across multiplechannels, Forrester surveyed 55 UK retail banks, building societies andfinancial services vending firms.

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