India’s customers are becoming digitally savvy, making it critical for Indian banks to get back to basics of focusing on the user experience across their digital channels, else smaller, nimbler digital startups will likely take away a larger share of mobile transactions.
Exponential digital adoption
In 2016, a demonetization campaign was launched by the Prime Minister of India to combat corruption. This situation caused a surge in digital payments and online transactions. Since then, digital payments have seen an exponential rise in usage. As of December 2020, the total value of transactions done on UPI, India’s home-grown digital payments platform, was greater than $50B a month. The rise in digital payments and the spread of Covid-19 limiting branch visits, has fueled the use of mobile banking in India.
Indian banks are still struggling with basics on digital
According to FIS‘ PACE Pulse survey (2020) cited in PR Newswire, 68% of Indian consumers were using digital and mobile banking. The number of mobile banking users grew significantly with the emergence of e-commerce and fintech since the lockdown was imposed.
As a result, the banking regulators have also become sensitive to the stability, safety & security of mobile banking. In December 2020, HDFC bank was mandated by the RBI to temporarily stop its digital activities because of outages in internet banking and payment systems. It served as a notice for the other banking apps to improve and monitor the quality of their app infrastructure. Similarly, data released by NPCI in November 2020, shows that more than 50% of the banks had a UPI technical failure rate exceeding 1%!
The Reserve Bank of India has explicitly stated its goal of developing efficient and secure payment and settlement systems with a focus on their greater penetration through the availability of user-friendly platforms at an affordable cost. In addition to this, protecting and securing the online engagements of the masses to the available applications is a prime concern of the regulator.
We used our proprietary experience-focused application testing platform to measure the user experience on commonly used banking applications in India, collecting the performance index of the largest government and three major private banks who have a mobile banking app- State Bank of India, Axis Bank, HDFC Bank, and ICICI Bank. Multiple tests were conducted on similar devices and under similar network conditions to reduce effects of device and network on final results. Focus was on testing intra bank transactions.
According to our research, Axis Bank delivers a better User Experience than its peers. ICICI Bank, HDFC and SBI deliver relatively similar performances with variations across KPIs on which app is better.
We measured three KPIs that leave a quick impression on a user’s perception of app performance. First, the Time to Log in was measured to provide a view on the time taken to load the landing page after entering the login credentials- such as the input in user name, password, and OTP. Second, the Time to Open Statement was measured to assess the time taken to view the statement after entering and confirming all of the required details. And lastly, Time to Transfer Money was recorded to compare the time taken to receive the success or failure message after confirming the required information on the transaction.
Data shows that the Average Time to Log In is 3.80 seconds. As indicated in Graph 1, Axis Bank performed 3x faster than the other applications with an average time of 1.6 seconds. In contrast, the other applications are taking a long time to log In. Among the four applications tested, HDFC performed poorly in this KPI with a total average time of 4.9 seconds.
The results on Time to Open Statement shows how fast HDFC and Axis bank are when it comes to viewing the statements after entering all the details- HDFC with an average time of 1.4 seconds and Axis bank with 1.5 seconds while ICICI is taking an average time of 3.5 seconds. The data identified SBI as the slowest performer with 4.1 seconds to open statements.
Graph 3 reveals that Axis Bank’s performance is 5x faster than HDFC’s Average Time to Transfer Money. On the other hand, SBI is below the KPI threshold of 2.72 seconds with an average time of 2.6 seconds. Both ICICI and HDFC have displayed poor performance in transaction performance.
How can Indian Banks improve?
Mobile banking apps are complex as they often have to integrate with large enterprise applications such as core banking systems, CRM, ERP systems, credit profiling etc. As a banking app developer, it thus becomes challenging to identify which backend system is affecting the performance of the app. Additionally, monitoring the performance of these backend systems is very crucial to understand the variations in the app performance.
Thus, app owners must get ahead of the curve and proactively monitor the app experience before customer’s start to complain of failures. Continuous testing and monitoring of app experience and performance should effectively become a core DNA of the digital office of such large banks.