Enterprise

SMS alerts in banking: Creating better service for mobile customers

Comprehensive, flexible solutions that cater to more than just one mobile alerting channel.

March 16 2015

Recent announcement by UK financial regulator FCA that SMS alerts help banking clients reduce overdraft charges once again illustrates the benefits that enterprise SMS services bring to modern consumers, who increasingly rely on mobile phones to manage various aspects of their lives, from personal finance, to travel, hobbies and entertainment.

Based on data from two large banks, the sample of 500,000 customers strongly supports the conclusion that text notifications are relevant for creating a better banking service for the mobile-oriented client.

Some 15 years ago, the implementation of text notifications in enterprise environments was complex and time consuming. It was hardly possible for banks to get SMS delivery to all mobile phones through a single solution or provider.
 

Still, banks understood the opportunity for service improvement that messaging presented, and invested considerable resources to implement various kinds of text alerts in their IT systems. Initially no more than basic account balance or ATM withdrawal notifications, SMS alerts soon started evolving into time-critical notifications, e.g. due payment dates, overdraft alerts, or other types of information that allowed bank customers to more efficiently manage their personal finances and save on unnecessary charges.

It usually involved separate arrangements with 3 or 4 mobile network operators, which meant connection maintenance and commercial relationships were handled separately for each operator. Obviously, this was far from the ideal situation, and overcoming the technical diversity of MNO systems and connections required additional work.

Even when unified and implemented into the banks’ IT systems, the performance still suffered because many times, bank employees spent a lot of time managing the text notifications service, with little or no technical support.

As there were no interfaces for the service management and reporting, incomplete service was commonplace. Banks had limited insight into delivery rates and speed. Real-time reporting was not developed yet, so it was impossible to gauge the success rate of delivery to customers’ phones, as well as the impact the messages were having on the user.

With the growth of professional messaging solutions for large institutions, this is no longer the case. Robust solutions developed over the last decade have solved many of the bank-specific requirements – security, advanced sending and database integration, quality connections, top delivery, and full transparency.

Further benefits brought on by the advent of specialised messaging providers are the extended coverage – reaching several networks in multiple countries through a single connection, as well as professional integration assistance and specialised technical support. But messaging providers have also developed new solutions, going far beyond the simple sending and reporting.

Integrating the bank’s database with a messaging gateway enables event-based SMS sending, meaning that any time a noteworthy activity occurs on the customer’s account, an SMS alert or notification can be sent in near-real time. Such immediate information greatly contributes to responsible managing of one’s financials, as shown by FCA research. 

Fully programmable, automatic sending greatly reduced the complexity involved in operating the messaging service. However, this was only the beginning of bundling advanced features and capabilities under a single messaging solution. As texting services evolve, and consumer habits change, alerting systems are advancing to accommodate the emerging needs and expectations.

The research notes that bank customers’ savings increase even more with banking apps added to the mix. Harnessing push notifications to deliver information to smartphones, and backed by SMS as a fallback option in cases where mobile data connection is unavailable, banks can ensure their customers are always on top of things regarding their finances. In recent years, messaging solutions are increasingly used for customer authentication when accessing different kinds of online services, and banking is no exception.

It seems that the best scenario for enterprises, not just banks, is to get advanced professional SMS services, authentication options, as well as push notifications in a complete package, together with guaranteed global coverage, integration assistance and quality support. 

In other words, comprehensive and flexible solutions that cater for more than just one mobile alerting channel, to accommodate the rapidly changing demands and habits of consumers.