With a strong focus on mobile banking, ABN
AMRO in the Netherlands has chalked out a mobile roadmap that is
aimed at regularly enhancing the channel and improving customer
experience. Jessica Niewierra, director of mobile and internet
banking at ABN AMRO, tells Meghna Mukerjee about
the latest value addition being made to its mobile platform
ABN AMRO in the Netherlands is focusing on
constantly reinventing and enhancing its mobile offerings. Instead
of a big launch or change, however, the lender has opted for a
strategy that allows it to make constant additions to its mobile
banking platform and add features that will improve the customer
Jessica Niewierra, director of mobile and
internet banking at ABN AMRO, Netherlands, says the bank’s mobile
channel is its focus and taking a customer centric approach is the
“We want to make sure we add value to the
customers’ life as a bank and keep up with changing customer
behaviour. We are migrating a lot of our capabilities to the
smartphones platforms now because that is where customer
behavioural trends are moving,” says Niewierra.
ABN AMRO’s mobile roadmap so far has had four
steps – starting with mobile apps, moving to making the
capabilities of the mobile apps available on the PC, to the
development of a mobile website and ultimately offering hybrid
“We started with apps because in the Dutch
market 95% consumers use mobile apps, only 5% use the mobile
internet. Also with apps you can use every feature the bank has to
offer the way it should be used,” says Niewierra.
“We started with a real blank sheet. For us it
was not about copying the internet banking platform on to the
mobile platform but to invent banking for mobile phones and tablets
for optimum use of the product,” she adds.
ABN AMRO positions its mobile channel to be
unique on the basis of it being “personal and easy to use”. The
mobile banking channel offers customers the option of personalising
each app using visual banking, which is a major point of
difference, stresses Niewierra.
app is different and customers can give chosen names to their bank
accounts and also add pictures to them. They can do this for
themselves as well as other people that they are making money
transfers to, or companies they often work with,” she says.
The visual banking aspect makes banking a lot
more interesting for customers, according to Niewierra.
“Normally people do not like to look at all
the numbers, and pictures make it much easier to check what is
happening in the customer’s account. While transferring money too
they only need to push a button next to the picture and that
transfer is complete – same goes for a payment being made to a
company,” says Niewierra.
In August ABN AMRO has launched a mobile
banking app update featuring capabilities that allow customers to
make their transfers personal by sending through the banking app a
picture, design e-card or message to the receiver of the transfer.
The update also allows customers to have insight in to their
“Customers need to mostly inform the receiver
on the other end that the money has been transferred and we want to
give them an opportunity to personalise that from within the app
itself and not have to leave the app at all.
“Customers do not need to personalise their
transfers but they can do so by choosing pictures or messages, or
designs, or an SMS. Customers can choose pictures out of their
camera roll for instance and send it with their money transfer.
They do not need to leave the mobile banking app to do any of
“What is exciting for us in the new feature we
have launched is the possibility to turn transferring money into a
personal gesture rather than something technical and distant,” says
The new capability on the ABN AMRO mobile
banking app has “intensely been tweaked and checked with customers”
in the usability lab.
“The update has been launched in August and
our customers are really excited. I hope that we give a lot of
advantages to our customers with this new way of banking,” says
“We believe in a user centric
design and we test run a lot of our products in the usability lab.
We have a very small mobile team and they make all the decisions on
the business side of the apps. The IT side, and all the other
members of the project team contributes to how we can move fast and
make the customers’ experience better. In a span of two to three
weeks we build working software and get feedback about it.
“We believe in creating products and services
together with our customers. We have a customer panel, we have a
customer community, usability lab and we always ask our customers
over social media channels to help us improve the experience for
them,” explains Niewierra.
Since Q2 2012, ABN AMRO has reported a marked
rise in log-ins to its mobile banking platform in comparison to its
internet banking platform.
“In June we had approximately 20m log-ins via
mobile banking. We are market leaders in customer satisfaction in
the Dutch retail banking market when it comes to mobile banking
too,” says Niewierra.
Due to the realisation that customers “really
like” what the lender is doing over the mobile channel, ABN AMRO
decided to take make its mobile banking app capabilities available
on the PC.
“On July 4, we launched a new website and
introduced our Quick Banking service online – that is basically
offering the mobile app on the PC. Our mobile customers can in fact
use the same code for mobile banking on the PC and personalise
their accounts and transactions with pictures and names.
“But this facility is not only meant for
mobile banking customers and is available to all the customers of
ABN AMRO. The aim is to basically provide the same customer
experience to everyone,” informs Niewierra.
“Almost half of the population in the
Netherlands still does not have smartphones so it is important that
they have the same user experience as well.
“We are in the process of building a platform
that can serve all channels such as social media, mobile, PC, the
main website, and everybody can use it through every device.”
Hybrid apps are the step ahead for ABN AMRO
and the basic idea is take the native apps and combine them with
the other capabilities that the lender is building up.
“The biggest lesson that we have learnt is to
do things step by step. We learn from customer trends and behaviour
and do things one by one each month – we do not just make changes
once or twice a year. We are able to launch an app every one or two
months on average for our customers – this can be a banking app or
a single purpose app,” says Niewierra.
According to Niewierra, a major change in
customers’ banking behaviour in the Netherlands is palpable as the
bank is continuously getting “spontaneous feedback on service and
products” and ABN AMRO is using this feedback to “react fast”.
“This has allowed us to develop apps much
faster for customers – we have an agile timeline and are
“It is also important for us to have a multi
disciplinary scrum team as it is fast, effective, and we can learn
a lot from each other. We have also learnt that it is necessary to
test the usability of the new software and products and check
whether it is good enough or not,” she adds.
The growing popularity of the mobile channel,
however, does not mean ABN AMRO plans on reducing its physical
“The Dutch consumers are indeed going to the
branches lesser but customers go to branches for advice oriented
reasons. Despite the visits at branches being lesser it is a
different kind of visit. Customers do not only go to any branch,
they go to specific people in the branches to get good financial
“Customers should be able to choose the
channel they most prefer and if they want to have access to good
financial advice through a person that must be made available. If
they wish to interact with the bank online or via the mobile
channel that must be possible too,” says Niewierra.
ABN AMRO’s mobile banking apps are free for
customers as it is in line with the lender’s strategy to offer a
package of value added services, products and channels side by
side. The lender does not have immediate plans to make the new
mobile banking apps and offerings available across other ABN AMRO
markets in Europe, but the prospect maybe in the offing in the