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Checking in on mobile banking – what users actually want from their digital tools

After a quarter-century of digital transformation in the banking sector, mobile banking apps play a pivotal role and have evolved from mere channel to core element of the business. With the rise of digital-only banks, and a broader trend of growing consumer expectations for digital engagements, shaping positive user experiences and expectations has become critical. In turn, this highlights the need for continuous improvement and responsiveness to user feedback.

A person working on an iPad at a wooden table and another in the background writing in a book.

While banking is moving into a predominantly mobile experience, most users still feel comfortable and satisfied with more passive experiences like managing accounts and checking statements. The connection between app and customer service and guidance is therefore crucial, and not merely in the sense of needing to facilitate a chat or call. Chatbots are functionally effective but emotionally flat which leads to user frustration. With the rise of advanced technology and generative AI we can expect improved experiences such as personalised interactions, optimised services and better tonality. Leveraging operational and customer data in new and innovative ways offer banks the ability to simplify and enhance their digital experiences and customer strategies focusing on personalisation, empathy and trust to exceed customer expectations.

We recently analysed user reviews across major UK banking apps, which revealed valuable insights into the common strengths and areas needing improvement. Our report provides businesses and developers with direct examples of customer perceptions, priorities and where to focus efforts for better experiences.

Banking App Cover Image

Find the synthesised reviews for the 17 UK banking apps here ->

What stands out is that banking apps generally score very high on the user ratings – most are above 4.5 out of 5. Digital tools are clearly creating value and delivering a user experience customers appreciate. Keep in mind that people are often motivated to leave a review when things have gone wrong. There are also obvious areas, however, where the experiences fall short in terms of CX/UX and technical stability.

Enhanced engagement with interfaces and innovative features

Clear and simple app interfaces are universally liked by users, reflecting the reality that most people are doing regular, day-to-day banking tasks and are looking for ease and efficiency. Ease of use is further complemented by innovative features such as real-time notifications, multi-currency accounts, and detailed spending analytics. These type of features are helping to exceed user expectations, offering them insightful and flexible management of their finances directly from their mobile devices. The positive reception of these features highlights a user preference for apps that provide a more comprehensive banking experience, moving beyond the traditional transactional functionalities.

Refining security processes and technical stability

Technical issues are raised a great deal, with users often mentioning instability, crashes, and slow loading times. These technical difficulties cause frustration and diminish user trust. It’s difficult to know precisely whether some of these are user error or hardware-related – but it’s unlikely that all complaints are attributable to the app developers. Nonetheless, people are getting frustrated, and they’re often connecting this to lack of (or slow) resolution via customer service agents. The complexity of security and authentication processes is another point of frustration, suggesting a need for a balance between robust security measures and user convenience – and perhaps better explanation of why these things are in place and the benefits they offer. Simplifying and explaining these processes, while ensuring security, would enhance user satisfaction and trust.

Communication and trust is essential

The reviews express a desire for clearer communication, particularly regarding the structuring of fees and the detailed functionalities of various features. Transparent and straightforward communication can help manage user expectations and prevent potential misunderstandings that could lead to dissatisfaction. This aspect of improvement is crucial as it ties directly into how users perceive the app's value and integrity. Smart and simple copy, and good labelling of features, is essential.

Trust is a key ingredient in the relationship between financial institutions and their customers, and this is particularly evident in the feedback. The reviews we looked at repeatedly contrasted customer service in person with app features. Sometimes positively, sometimes not. Reliable app performance, secure transactions, and responsive customer support are important factors to build and maintain trust. Users consistently value apps that offer seamless, secure, and efficient banking experiences – often they relate this to the ability to manage ‘simple’ or day-to-day’ tasks. This may be instructive in getting the right balance between innovative features and brilliant basics.

There’s an opportunity here to enhance user satisfaction. Addressing technical issues and refining security processes, coupled with improved communication both in the app and within related customer service, are sensible routes to more reliable and user-centred banking experiences. With many pain points shared between the different apps, those that are able to break the trend and act on user frustrations have a real opportunity to stand out from the competition.


  • Portrait of Matthew Edwards
    Matthew Edwards
    MD, UK