At the recent UX Week, it seemed like the most-represented industry was banking. User experience folks from a large number of companies were there: USAA, US Bank, Bank of America, Checkfree, and others - including at least two Scandanavian banks - were present. The repeated explanation was that user experience is one of the few remaining (obvious) arenas in which banks could differentiate themselves.
At the same time, mobile banking is heating up, with some dedicated blogs, including:
- Brandon McGee's Mobile Banking provides news and analysis from a VP in charge of mobile banking.
- Online Financial Information's Mobile Money & Banking looks to be a good industry news source.
- Hannes van Rensburg's Mobile Banking is the blog of the CEO of a South African mobile banking provider Fundamo
Beyond just banking is mobile payments. Expect this to work great in niche markets - using your phone to pay for access to the subway is already happening in Japan and London - but for now you can only "load" one payment instrument onto your phone. As a result, there is a two-tap interaction for most solutions: one to alert the point of payment you are there, and the second (after user interaction) to actually pay. Oh, and the data doesn't really flow two-way for most solutions ... so you may have to have coverage in the store to make it all work.
Another form of mobile payments is person-to-person, enabled by Paypal and Obopay. I don't really consider this to be mobile payments so much as web-based payments with mobile access.
Banking has a number of important user experience challenges. Not only must it be secure, but it must be perceived as being secure ... without the cost of heavy amounts of data entry. Couple that with the various security breaches on SMS and other gateways, and you have a bunch of fun. Further, mere account access isn't going to be enough (at least for long). Forgot a bill? Need to send money to a friend? Want to jot down what that expense was? Mobile access is key.