Mobile Banking Apps – The good, the bad and the ugly 

Mobile Banking Apps - The good, the bad and the ugly


Mobile banking apps have traditionally been viewed as a cost centre. But this undervalues their potential to be both a sales channel, and a cost-reduction channel. They can play a key role in the digitisation of many banking processes in a digital transformation program.

So what separates the good mobile banking apps from the bad? Sandstone Technology’s Abhish Saha, Executive General Manager, Digital Banking and Ranjan Kumar, Director of Product Management, Digital Banking, share what they view as the characteristics of good, bad (and ugly) apps.

The 7 signs of a good mobile banking app

1. It’s simple to use across all transaction and activity types. As Kumar points out, this is even more important now that the pandemic and broader smartphone adoption has opened digital banking technology up to a much broader demographic.

2. It gives instantaneous access to functionality and experiences – within a couple of taps. This must be a constant focus for app developers, Saha says. The app doesn’t ask the customer to tap or type more than is absolutely required. Remembering common activities such as bill payments and account transfers is basic hygiene.

3. It’s a single point of entry with one password, thumb print or facial recognition to access as many authenticated banking services as possible to really empower the customer to bank where and whenever they want to, says Saha. It also meets user expectations for functionality, enabling customers to transact, change preferences and communicate with the bank notifications.

4. A good app enables a financial institution to communicate instantly with its customers in an authenticated manner at a low cost, according to Saha. It provides a space for dedicated communications whether via chat or messaging. It plays a major role in ending the “unfriendly” call centre experiences that frustrate users before they even get to discuss their pain points, i.e., being asked multiple authentication questions and to recite pin numbers created years ago.

5. On the bank side, a good mobile app should facilitate data and analytics, says Kumar. It should provide insights to the bank, which not only help personalise product offers and experiences, taking advantage of revenue opportunities, but also quickly identify the friction points for customers. This can help improve the overall customer experience.

6. Saha says it’s imperative that the App reduces the banks’ Cost to Income ratio, by removing non-revenue generating activities from bank staff in contact centres, branches and operations. That might mean giving customers the ability to turn their credit card on and off, set parameters around whether they will accept foreign payments, warn the bank that they’re travelling or even handle disputes and renew Term Deposits. These drive great business cases for a bank by removing traffic from higher cost channels such as contact centres and branches. This also reduces waiting time imposts on customers.

7. A good banking app allows a bank to design offers, as well as help develop and improve products based on how they resonate in market. Allowing customers to set up a term deposit reinvestment instructions, foreign exchange trading or buy an insurance policy on the go.



The 4 signs of a bad mobile banking app

1. A bad mobile banking app stands alone. 10 years ago you could get away with an app sitting off to the side because mobile apps were fairly new, Saha says. But today every app needs a holistic omni-channel approach. It needs to become part of the rest of the consumer experience, linked to other channels including branch networks and call centres. If something goes wrong in the app, a customer should be able to call the bank’s contact centre or walk into a branch to complete the experience. If your app doesn’t work with the rest of the banking ecosystem things can get ugly. Customers expect continuity of service.

2. A bad app doesn’t cover all market devices¹ and browsers, so it won’t work on newer models, or it only works with newer models. This issue is commonly overlooked, especially when developers are working with limited resources, are inexperienced, or might only be testing on their own phones; so when they go to market, with the plethora of devices out there, the end users have a whole range of different experiences. It’s only then that the bugs are identified.

3. Core functions are inefficient or difficult to use in a bad mobile app. We recommend financial institutions identify the 10 most common tasks that a retail user or business user performs on the app and focus on making those mobile use cases super-efficient. If they aren’t easy, customers will find a better experience elsewhere – even if they currently do all their banking with you.

4. Bad mobile banking apps crash or run slowly because of excessive bloatware. This often happens when a financial institution is using the app as a promotional channel, expecting consumers to wait for advertisements to load. Imagine the experience for a customer who is stalled in this way when trying to make an important payment quickly.

In our experience, bad apps are generally the result of inexperience. Good apps are created by teams who have been through the same exercise with other banks and learned the lessons. 

Saha commented, "Using our platforms you get the benefit of those lessons from day one, and you don't have to go through those painful learnings yourself."



Whether to develop inhouse or outsource and adopt a white label solution (or do a combination of both) depends on a number of factors – you can read more about those in this follow-up article.

For organisations that do decide to adopt a white label solution, find a mobile banking software provider that can be your strategic partner, not just a vendor.

Talk to Sandstone Technology about our future-proofed mobile banking solutions.


[₁] Sandstone Technology has a platform and device support policy, which involves a regular assessment of the market share of devices, operating systems and browsers in the geographies we serve. That determines the devices that need to be supported, which we communicate through a quarterly communication with customers. We’re also across the roadmaps that Apple and Android publish on their operating systems so we know what’s ahead.


Article published May, 2022


Mobile Banking Apps – The good, the bad and the ugly

Posted by Sandstone Technology on May 23, 2022 8:47:11 AM
Mobile banking apps have traditionally been viewed as a cost centre. But this undervalues their potential to be both a sales channel, and a cost-reduction channel. They can play a key role in the digitisation of many banking processes in a digital transformation program.

Topics: Digital Banking

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