Mobile banking is gaining momentum all over the world, and China is no exception. In August 2015, for the first time, Forrester evaluated the mobile banking offerings of five of China’s largest retail banks plus Alipay; we’ve just published the results in our 2015 China Mobile Banking Functionality Benchmark report.

To help mobile banking teams benchmark their mobile banking capabilities, identify critical mobile features, and plan for the future, we used our Mobile Banking Functionality Benchmark methodology to evaluate the mobile banking services of six of the largest retail banks in China, including five traditional banks — Agricultural Bank of China (ABC), Bank of China (BOC), China Construction Bank (CCB), China Merchants Bank (CMB), and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) — and one nontraditional bank: Alipay.

The Chinese mobile banking services we reviewed achieved an average score of 55 out of 100; while this is slightly better than banks in Singapore and the UK, many Chinese banks still lag behind their peers in Australia, Europe, and North America. The headlines:

  • Alipay outperforms the five traditional banks. Alipay started as a third-party online payment platform but now fulfills the same functions as a bank. The only nontraditional bank in our review, Alipay not only earned the best overall score of 67, but also scored highest in four of the seven categories in our benchmark: account and money management, transactional features, service features, and marketing and sales. Alipay excels with many mobile features that none of the major traditional banks currently provide. For example, it allows customers to easily find a past transaction using sorting, filtering, and natural language keyword search.
  • CMB and ICBC perform better than other traditional peers. These two banks are in the second tier; CMB received a score of 60, while ICBC was close on its heels with 59. CMB did well in many categories, including range of touchpoints, enrollment and login, account and money management, transaction features, and marketing and sales. ICBC’s top two categories were range of touchpoints and cross-channel. Both banks provide some mobile features that their competitors don’t. CMB is the only bank with an effective mobile-optimized website on which customers can easily make transactions; ICBC is the only one that provides contextual help.
  • The rest have room to improve, starting with service. The other three traditional banks are missing opportunities to create better experiences for their customers in various ways and are not helping their customers complete service tasks on mobile devices. CCB needs to improve in marketing and sales; it provides no marketing offers, cross-selling, or product research tools. BOC needs to improve in the cross-channel category, as its app contains no contact information or options.

Forrester clients can read our full report here to see the detailed breakdowns of each individual bank’s overall score and where we think digital teams can further improve. Feel free to let us know your thoughts in the comments section.