The use of mobile banking continues its climb towards ubiquity: the Federal Reserve study published in 2016 indicated that 43%[1] of all mobile phone owners with a bank account had used mobile banking, with the three most common mobile banking activities among mobile banking users being checking account balances or recent transactions, transferring money between an individual’s own accounts, and receiving an alert (e.g., a text message, push notification, or e-mail) from their bank.

In a push to capitalize on changing consumer behavior and out of asset-light necessity to get creative, a range of online-only banks[2] have been launched around the world[3].

Why launch a digital-only offering?

With accelerating pace of innovation adoption in the financial services industry (whether through complementary partnerships, M&As, or API-driven integrations[4]) and naturally consolidating FinTech efforts in gaining strong footing in consumers’ lives, why launching own digital-only offering worth the effort for traditional institutions? DBS made an attempt to estimate the potential losses of a passive approach to development with its paper called New Avatar: Banks Watch Out for Banks[5], offering two main strategies for banks to fight challenger banks on their turf:

  1. Serve existing products digitally so that they are faster, cheaper and easier; and/or

  2. Adopt a customer ecosystem approach which integrates banking into customers’ daily lives.

Estimates suggest that financial institutions that are not able to adopt a digital model may see a drop in ROE by ~18% over a five-year time frame. However, retail banks that are able to reinvent themselves could see a substantial increase in ROE

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