Mobile banking adoption has reached critical mass. Rapid progress in mobile technologies and consumers’ ever-increasing expectations and changing behavior have left many banks around the world playing catch-up. In the meantime, a cluster of banks is racing forward by putting customers at the center of their strategy, striving to anticipate customers’ emerging needs, and by embracing an agile and iterative approach to speed up the development of new mobile capabilities that differentiate them from their peers. Today, these banks are delivering outstanding services to their customers in mobile, and in 2016, Westpac in Australia is leading the pack.

To help digital business strategy leaders better understand the landscape of mobile banking, identify best practices, and benchmark their own capabilities in this area, Forrester conducts an annual functionality benchmark applying 40 criteria. This year, we evaluated 46 leading retail banks from more than a dozen countries across four continents, and have just published the findings in our “2016 Global Mobile Banking Functionality Benchmark” report.

Here are some of the highlights from the global benchmark report:

  • A cluster of banks leads by continuously iterating. Australia’s Westpac received the highest overall score in our review, earning 86 out of a possible 100, just ahead of last year’s winner, Spain’s CaixaBank, at 85. Eight other banks also pulled ahead of their peers : Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and Scotiabank in Canada, Garanti in Turkey, Bank of America in the US, Bank Zachodni WBK in Poland, Lloyds Bank in the UK, Wells Fargo in the US, and Commonwealth Bank of Australia. These leaders have all built strong relationships between their digital business strategy and technology management teams, which work together on a joint business technology agenda. They have also adopted an iterative, “test and learn” process, steadily making incremental improvements to their mobile services.
  • Many banks have improved transactional features. Competition is high in the area of payments. Banks are no longer just competing with each other, but also with new digital banks and digital wallets, which are wooing customers by promising them better digital customer experiences. More banks now are letting customers use their mobile banking app to transfer money in real-time, make a P2P payment, pay a bill, or make contactless mobile payments at a point of sale — some offering Apple Pay, and some providing their own integrated digital wallet.
  • Mobile marketing and sales varies from excellent to nonexistent. Many banks offer little to no mobile marketing, cross-selling, or product research tools for customers. Meanwhile, leaders are starting to take advantage of context and data analytics to understand their customers’ current needs, anticipate future ones, deliver relevant marketing and sales messages, and make personalized product recommendations in their apps. Mobile banking leaders offer clear, prominent guidance to product research tools and make it easy for customers to apply for a new product entirely through mobile.

I encourage you to read the entire report,”2016 Global Mobile Banking Functionality Benchmark,” as well as our other benchmark studies for the following countries/regions: Australia, Canada, China, Continental Europe, India, Singapore, the UK, and the US.

[Note: Thanks to my colleagues around the world Zhi Ying Ng, Peter Wannemacher, Rachel Roizen, Xiaofeng Wang, Arnav Gupta, Benjamin Ensor, Alexander Causey, Michael Chirokas, Erna Esa, and Rachel Birrell for their substantial contribution to this research.]