Ever-increasing smartphone adoption has fueled the use of digital banking services by Indian customers. Forrester data shows that, in 2017, more than half of online banking customers in metro India predominantly use mobile devices to quickly complete simple banking tasks such as checking an account balance and viewing recent transactions. But more interestingly, online banking customers now also use mobile devices for serious and time-consuming banking tasks such as searching for and buying financial products and services. The need for enhanced digital banking services is not just restricted to metropolitan India, but is also emerging in smaller cities.

We recently concluded our 2017 India Mobile Banking Benchmark, which assesses the mobile banking offerings of seven large Indian banks: Axis Bank, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, IndusInd Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, State Bank of India, and Yes Bank. Of the seven, ICICI Bank received the highest overall score by delivering services that are both useful and usable. The bank has substantially improved its mobile app over the past two years, in the process overtaking the other Indian banks. Some highlights from our report:

  • ICICI Bank leads again; other Indian banks must step up. ICICI Bank earned the highest score by excelling at customer service features, cross-channel guidance, and product marketing. There is a 13-point gap between the scores of ICICI Bank and next best bank, suggesting that rest of the pack must make substantial improvements in their mobile banking services to catch up. ICICI Bank stands out by offering its customers a universal in-app search tool, a chatbot that supports basic transactions and chats with human agents, direct 24×7 telephone contact with agents in the relevant banking division, cardless cash withdrawals, a dedicated contact for fraud reporting, and in-app product research and applications.
  • HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank have enabled mobile banking on multiple touchpoints. Online banking customers in India will find it easy to access mobile banking services from digital touchpoints such as smartphones, mobile-optimized websites, tablets, third-party messaging apps such as Twitter and Facebook, and even emerging touchpoints such as smart watches. HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank stood out here by offering a wide range of touchpoints to ensure that their customers can bank the way they want to.
  • Indian banks continue to offer strong transactional features. ICICI Bank is among the global leaders in offering money movement features through its mobile app. IndusInd Bank and SBI also scored well in this category. Compared with last year, Indian banks have improved the transaction functionality they offer to mobile banking customers; for example, ICICI Bank offers a “Positive Pay” feature that lets customers capture an image of their checks and upload them in the app to help mitigate check fraud.
  • Weak service features indicate that customer service is not a priority. While banks are making transactional features available to customers on multiple touchpoints, the same is not true for customer service features. Only ICICI Bank and Yes Bank have made efforts to guide customers during task flows within the app; both provide clear, contextual task guidance to help customers complete most of their banking tasks. ICICI Bank has enabled multiple methods of customer service such as live chat with an agent, in-app messaging, actionable service request links, and a universal search tool.
  • Product search and marketing efforts continue to remain week. Indian banks still limit their in-app product marketing efforts to pushing products to different customer segments — seemingly without leveraging customer-specific data. They need to do a better job of leveraging information such as customer preferences, location, risk profile, life situation, and future goals to serve customers in their context.

Indian banks have been working to improve their mobile banking over the years; however, they need to accelerate their efforts in this area to first catch up and then keep pace with fast-evolving global best practices. Please read Forrester’s 2017 India Mobile Banking Benchmark report to understand how banks offer their mobile banking services to customers in India and what the prevailing best practices are.