Access channels for mobile banking applications - A comparative study based on characteristics.

Schwenke, F.

Published Online

Schwenke, F. 2010. Access channels for mobile banking applications - A comparative study based on characteristics. Unpublished Masters Thesis, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town.

ABSTRACT
The objective of this research project was to provide an answer to the question: "Which access channel is the most appropriate for mobile banking applications?" This question is posed by providers of mobile banking services and providers of mobile banking applications alike. In order to provide an answer, a literature survey was conducted to determine which access channels are available to mobile banking applications and which characteristics should be measured to determine the appropriateness of each of these access channels.

It was determined that there are a number of access channels available to mobile applications. Not all of these are applicable to mobile banking applications, due to the nature of the underlying technologies. In order to measure characteristics of the access channels a selection of the available channels was made. This selection was first based on the applicability of the channel on mobile banking applications, and thereafter on the availability of the channel in a commercial or test environment. Lastly, the list was filtered according to which channels that are available within South Africa. It was however possible to measure one of the characteristics, "ubiquity", in three different countries. Six access channels (IVR, Java/J2ME, SMS, USSD, WAP/XHTML and WIG) were chosen to be measured. Apart from the selection of access channels, the characteristics that were to be measured were also filtered. This filtering was based on the complexity of the characteristic. Eventually, three characteristics (security, ubiquity and usability) were chosen. Each of the characteristics was measured in a different way to determine the suitability of each access channel with regard to that specific characteristic. The results were gathered and graphed. A detail description of the results was done on a per channel basis. Lastly, the results were analysed. This analysis enabled the author of this research to make recommendations as to the appropriateness of the different access channels for mobile banking applications.

This interpretation of the results showed that WIG (which is representative of all SIM card based channels) is the most secure way to conduct mobile banking transactions. However, IVR and SMS were found to be the most ubiquitous and WAP/XHTML was the most usable. As far as usability is concerned, it was found that there is very little difference in the usability of the different access channels. It was also confirmed that the user's previous experience might have influenced his/her perspective of usability.

In conclusion it is recommended that no single characteristic should be regarded in isolation when decisions are made about which access channels to support. Instead, decision makers should consider several characteristics which may influence the target marketplace as well as prospective clients. The nature of the mobile banking application provider might play a significant role in the decisions. For example if the mobile operator is the service provider, they may consider access channels that are mobile operator dependent, but if a bank is the service provider, they might find it more useful to consider more ubiquitous access channels that are not mobile operator specific.
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