The challenge of developing and maintaining mobile banking applications that will run on an iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, or a Windows phone (as well as browser-based or wireless application protocol apps that will run on anything) is daunting even for large banks with massive IT budgets, never mind the rest of the banking world.
But Jeff Dennes, who led the development of some of the first mobile banking apps at USAA and was recruited to Huntington Bancshares, a little over a year ago, says a multi-platform strategy is necessary. And HTML5, the latest version of the hypertext language for structuring and presenting content on the Internet, is the next development frontier for banks to ignore at their peril.
“I had learned from my days at USAA that you have to provide apps across Android, iPhone, WAP, Windows, and BlackBerry, but you end up with a pretty big maintenance challenge, ” said Jeff Dennes of Huntington Bancshares. Confronted with a limited budget at Huntington, Dennes turned to Kony, a provider of a multi-platform mobile app platform that lets the bank develop one application and launch it across several device operating systems, for help. In June, using the new platform, the bank was able to roll out its Android and iPhone apps on the same day. Since then, Dennes has observed that the adoption rates of the Android, iPhone and WAP apps are about the same. “The customer is already using all our channels, and because he’s using them, you can’t close your eyes to anyone,” he says.
Building all mobile apps from the same platform has the advantage of freeing up developers who were formerly dedicated to specific native and browser apps and it also eases and accelerates the process of adding a new feature, such as remote deposit capture, across the board.
The next big thing for mobile app development, according to Dennes and David Eads, vice president of product marketing at Kony Solutions, San Mateo, is HTML5.
“HTML5 is the biggest disruption coming to the market, in a good way,” Eads says. “HTML5 is a new technology designed to make browser apps, the mobile web experience or desktop web experience, similar to an app. So you can do interesting things like access the GPS or the camera in a phone and within the program. Consumers don’t need to download an app if they’re having a great experience in the browser itself.” HTML5 also provides better support for embedded video and audio files, which could help banks in their new, evolving role as multimedia content providers.
As financial institutions continue to build and upgrade their mobile applications, the ability to use industry-standard protocols and platforms that allow repurposing of code will be of paramount importance. This strategy provides greater efficiencies and productivity, as well as faster time-to-market. And incorporating standards like HTML5 into banking platforms will provide greater depth and breadth of functionality that will support new capabilities such as audio and video enhanced content and image-based remote deposit capture.