Welcome to the 2012 MBA's! The MBA's is a worldwide search to find and recognise the very best mobile banking apps and services. With a big year ahead expected for mobile banking and payments, the awards are a good opportunity to take stock and reflect on the best apps in the market today. There are no trophies, money or prizes awarded to the MBA winners. This is about kudos and respect. After hours of reviewing media commentary, blogs, App Store feedback and YouTube videos, I have decided to rank the best of the best. Without further ado, here are the ten category winners...
1. Best Overall Mobile Banking Application: La Caixa Móvil (Video)
La Caixa is the bank that every mobile banking professional wants to work at. This regular award winner continues to roll out new and innovative services with alarming regularity. With over fifty banking applications and its own App Store, La Caixa was the first bank in Europe to implement a large scale NFC payments service last year. La Caixa has also introduced contactless ATM's that allow withdrawals with only the tap of a phone. If that wasn't enough they have launched Caixa Wallet, a secure online payment method that doesn't require the use of credit card details. Its 2.2 million happy users can't be wrong...
2. Best Mobile Application Design: ANZ goMoney (Video)
Stylish, clean and just damn sexy, the ANZ goMoney app delights in both form and function. This is a banking app developed through the eyes of Steve Jobs. Registration is simple and the app integrates nicely with online banking. It even allows users to rename and reorder accounts. For a nice surprise you can turn the device horizontal to view accounts in cover flow mode. This view also allows the user to add a personalised image to an account or select from a curated list. Launched in 2010, this app set a new standard in mobile banking design that has yet to be surpassed.
3. Best Multiplatform Service: Bank of America (Video)
BofA has been a torch bearer for mobile banking since the launch of the very first iPhone. Whilst their app portfolio has received some criticism for usability and functional issues, their device coverage is second to none. BofA customers have a full smorgasbord of options to choose from. Customised native apps are available for iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry, Android, Windows and even HP webOS. On top of this, customers with older devices can take advantage of web and text banking. With a lot of banks still only offering iPhone apps, BofA has sent a benchmark that is going to be hard to reach.
4. Best Tablet Application: Citibank for iPad (Video)
Citibank found that the best way to get over that 'security incident' was to launch a bespoke iPad app. The service won plenty of admirers for its smart use of the extra tablet real estate. Customers can view large graphs of their transaction history and analyse spending patterns. For those brave enough, customers can compare savings and spending habits against general consumer data. The app also allows users to connect and tweet directly with live service operators. Expect another big year for Citibank in 2012 as they partner with Google Wallet in the US.
5. Best Stockbroking Application: E*Trade Mobile Pro (Video)
Available on the iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry and now Android, the E*Trade Mobile Pro app is a pleasure to use even in a bear market. One of the challenges most trading apps have is to fit all of that useful data into the smaller mobile screen size. This app handles it gracefully and uses a smart show and hide menu feature. The app has all the standard trading features you need and also incorporates quick cash transfers and remote cheque deposit. One of the unique approaches E*Trade has used to promote the service, is to offer mobile phone plans in conjunction with access to the app.
6. Best Home Buying Application: Commonwealth Bank Property Guide (Video)
This app was the reason augmented reality was invented. Developed in conjunction with realestate.com.au, Australia's biggest property listing website. The app allows users to review property information by simply holding their phone up. Whilst augmented reality can often be used for the sake of being innovative, it really does add value in the case of this app. Users can review property prices, auction data, sales history and detailed suburb overviews. The app also allows users to calculate monthly mortgage repayments and contact an agent directly to book an inspection.
7. Best Payment Feature: Commonwealth Bank Kaching (Video)
With payments to email, payments to mobile, and payments to Facebook included, who needs an account number and sort code? If that wasn't enough the app includes NFC payments for tap and go purchases at Australia's leading retailers. You need to applaud the sheer audacity of this app. The fact that they have been able to pull it off proves that banks can still deliver great technology when they need too. CommBank has leveraged its relationship with MasterCard and Wireless Dynamics to launch the service which utilises a special iPhone case. The only catch is the app is only available on the iPhone, but look for that to change soon...
8. Best Shopping and Ticketing Feature: La Caixa ServiCaixa (Video)
La Caixa seem to have an app for everything. One of its more unique features is that users can shop and purchase tickets to events all through their phone. Want to go and see Real Madrid play this Sunday? Just use your mobile app. This feature isn't just some add on either. ServiCaixa leads the Spanish market in sales of cinema, music and sports events tickets. Users can select seats and tickets are generally presented on the phone in the form of a QR code. This is bank doing the disrupting, not being the disrupted. Having Ron Burgundy play the jazz flute on your You Tube video is also just plain awesome (listen at 1.07 and 2.12).
9. Best Insurance Feature: USAA Autocircle (Video)
This app puts users in the driver's seat by redefining the insurance process and bringing it to the mobile. Users are able to shop, finance and insure a new vehicle, all in the palm of their hand. The whole car purchasing journey is covered. Users can book an appointment for a test drive, instant finance is available through USAA's loan arm, and you can review cars using the innovative vehicle rating system. And that is only the first course! Probably the coolest feature is that the app allows you to make an insurance claim right on the spot. Upload photos and details instantly after an incident. Now that is real convenience.
10. Best Gamification Feature: PNC Virtual Wallet 'Punch the pig' (Video)
Since its launch in July 2008, PNC Virtual Wallet has become the darling of the Online Banking industry. PNC's mobile banking service, often in the shadow of its sister website, also deserves some ample recognition as well. The whole experience from start to finish makes banking a little bit more fun. Sliders can be used to manage your spending and transactions can be viewed in calendar mode. The app has also been able to translate its very popular 'punch the pig' website feature for the phone. By setting the amount and shaking your phone, money drops out of your virtual current account, into your savings account. Oink, oink!
Do you agree? Let me know your thoughts, or let me know if I have missed anyone?
1. Aggregators i.e. Mint and payment specialists i.e. PayPal were not included.
2. I decided not to include a Social Media category because there were no worthy candidates at the moment.
3. Of the winners I have only personally used the ANZ and Commonwealth bank apps.
4. I must admit it was difficult for me to find information on Asian banking apps. Language barrier probably doesn't help.
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