Mobile apps have become the channel of choice for millions of Europeans. Forrester’s data shows that some 40% of French, 54% of Italian, and 54% of UK online adults have done their banking on a smartphone in the past month. We have been evaluating mobile banking apps for over a decade through our Forrester Digital Experience Review™. This year, we included 13 banks in our European review, from leading retail banks to fast-growing neobanks: BBVA, Boursorama, Danske Bank, ING, Intesa Sanpaolo, Lunar, Monzo, N26, NatWest, PKO Bank Polski, Revolut, Santander, and Société Générale. It struck us to see that apart from the leaders we identified, many European banks present a gap between functionality and user experience.

Functionality With A Half-Backed User Experience (UX) Misses Out On Customer Engagement

Offering extensive functionality that isn’t backed up by a well-designed user experience makes no sense. Customers won’t be able to unleash the benefits of otherwise powerful features if they first need to overcome navigation issues, struggle with confusing information architecture or unoptimized interactions, or are left figuring out how things work for lack of proper guidance. Up to 31% of the mobile banking apps we reviewed this year showed that weakness. This reveals a fundamental issue in the app delivery process: when UX is considered as an afterthought rather than a strategic asset. Small frustrations and struggles along user journeys build on each other, increasing their intensity and leading to an overall negative experience. Furthermore, we know that positive emotions drive loyalty and that a good digital experience is one of the most important factors for European online adults who are choosing a current account provider, so releasing more features with poor UX that drive negative emotions is like purposely choosing to lose business. Is this really what banks want to keep doing?

Banks That Get The Functionality/UX Balance Right Set Themselves Up For Bright Futures

BBVA and Intesa Sanpaolo had the best overall scores in our review, with near-perfect apps balancing digital functionality and user experience. Seven other banks do better on the user experience part of our evaluation than the functionality one. As they all cover customers’ top tasks, they ensure healthy foundations to create mobile experiences that provide ease, effectiveness, and positive emotions. This is the right recipe to increase customer engagement and business. Intesa Sanpaolo does 25% of sales through its digital channels, and it saw a 17% increase in mobile customers since it started its digital transformation journey — that translates into an average of 20 connections per month per customer.

Technology Leaders Have An Important Role To Play In The Game

Many banks redesigned or launched brand-new apps this year — or are in the process of doing so. Redesigns are just the visible part of the iceberg: Many traditional banks also included changes in their apps’ technical base. Combining state-of-the-art technology with advanced design systems, they can create better mobile experiences much faster. By adding access to plenty of development resources, skilled employees, and modern development and delivery techniques, traditional banks can go as fast as neobanks … if not faster. While neobanks such as Lunar, Monzo, N26, and Revolut did well in our evaluation, they were overtaken on mobile experience by incumbents such as BBVA, Intesa Sanpaolo, NatWest, and Santander.

Learn more about best practices for deploying best-in-class banking apps by checking out our report, The Forrester Digital Experience Review™: European Mobile Banking Apps, Q3 2021, joining our on-demand webinar, or getting in touch with us to schedule a call through our inquiry system.