Your Mobile Banking App Isn’t Smart Enough

Your Mobile Banking App Isn’t Smart Enough

In early 2014, Chris Skinner introduced the concept of the “intellisensing bank.” He talked about the bank that interacts with you 24/7, but onlyiStock_000034746384Small if you want it to. Of course, in order to interact with you everywhere you go, it needs to go with you everywhere.

Hence, the mobile banking app.

But how many mobile banking applications are smart enough to be intellisensing?

Mobile banking applications need to have three major features: pull, push, and orchestration. Measure yours against the three and see how you do.


Pull is the easy one, and probably the one your mobile banking application has down. If I request interaction with the bank, I get it. But it’s more than just providing information. In order to be an intellisensing application, it needs to provide me that information in context – the way I need it now.

For example, if a customer is out shopping and has just had their debit card decline and accesses their mobile banking application, what do you think he wants to know or wants to do? See and transfer balances, of course. So that feature should be the first thing they see. No sense in providing the same menu all the time and add three more clicks to the process.

They say data does not always mean information. Well, information does not always mean helpful either. Unless that information can lead to a decision or action which adds value for the customer, then it’s useless.


Push is one that mobile application are just starting to figure out. Providing time-sensitive alerts are critical to filling out the banking experience. Push alerts are triggered on data generated either by the bank, by the user, or by the phone. That means a trigger could be generated by balance changes or where they phone is located or even a certain time of day.

Think about the example we just gave. The debit card is declined. Immediately, an alert is sent to the user to transfer money in order to complete the purchase.

Hey, the app could have even alerted the user when the account was overdrawn.

But like with pull, push isn’t helpful unless it drives the user to action. Overdraft alert with a one-click transfer function. Or a one-click short-term loan function.

Too many mobile app developers use push alerts to “force” an interaction with the application – keeping the app “top of mind.” That’s the absolutely wrong way to construct a push alert. The push alert needs to come at the right time. Just when the user either needs to take action or needs to know something. A push alert should always elicit the reaction, “wow, I’m glad they told me that.” The industry has a lot of work to do to create meaningful push alerts that not only “interrupt” the day of the user, but actually create value.


This concept is a little new for mobile banking applications. Notice that Chris Skinner didn’t say the mobile app was intellisensing. The bank needs to be intellisensing. That raises the question: where does the brain of the bank live?

The answer in today’s world should be obvious. It should be in the mobile application. Every interaction the customer has with the bank – regardless of channel – should be orchestrated by the mobile application.

Think of the mobile banking application as the central nervous system of the customer experience. There are “handshakes” between the mobile device and all the other channels. When a customer uses the ATM or has a service issue or has to call into a contact center, each of these interactions is recorded and coordinated with the push alerts. In addition, when the customer pulls data, it needs to know the context of all the other interactions.

For example, instead of holding a customer at the ATM to cross- or up-sell all the while delaying the customer getting their cash, deliver those messages and solicit those interactions on the mobile device after the ATM interaction has concluded.

So, how did you bank’s mobile application stack up? A good mobile app needs to:

  • Pull
  • Push
  • Orchestrate

I talk about mobile banking strategy in my book, Seven Billion Banks: How a Personalized Banking Experience Will Save the Industry. Learn more about the three pillars of mobile banking strategy in the book.