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Northeastern banks push ahead in competitive mobile banking landscape

Banks in the Northeast market have to move fast to keep up as regional peers and large competitors step up their digital capabilities.

Several northeastern banks profiled in S&P Global Market Intelligence's 2018 US Mobile Banking Market Report are planning mobile enhancements, and at least one bank has rolled out a major upgrade since that report published. The report offers mobile banking survey data and app details for more than 70 banks, including a selection of regional banks in each of the nine U.S. census divisions. This article focuses on the Middle Atlantic and New England divisions, which make up the Northeast region.

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Despite being the largest bank in our census division-level analysis, New York Community Bancorp Inc. had one of the least feature-rich mobile apps until a few weeks ago. The Dec. 1 rollout of NYCB Mobile 2.0 saw the addition of fingerprint and face-based authentication, and the ability to access account statements and check images, among other enhancements.

New York Community had plenty of catching up to do, at least when compared to other northeastern banks in our analysis. All of the others already offered biometric authentication in their apps, and most allow for account alert management through the mobile channel. Banks including Pittsburgh's F.N.B. Corp., New Jersey-based Valley National Bancorp, and Rockland Trust Co. in Massachusetts have other app upgrades in the works. For example, Valley National is working on features such as person-to-person payments, the ability to report a debit card lost or stolen, and cardless ATM access. First National Bank is transitioning to the Zelle network from Popmoney for P2P payments.

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Despite the prevalence of touch ID in the middle Atlantic bank apps we reviewed, respondents in our February mobile banking survey pointed to fingerprint ID as one of the top features missing from their bank apps that they would like to have. There are various possible explanations for this, including different functionality depending on the type of smartphone and operating system.

Some mobile banking users are simply not aware of all the capabilities of their apps, and banks often struggle with digital education among their customers. Strategies for dealing with this include installing so-called digital ambassadors in bank branches to work with front-line employees and customers on adoption of digital tools. First National Bank actively incorporates mobile technology in its branches, with digital kiosks available to help customers compare and select banking products.

Smaller regional banks are also competing with industry heavyweights. New York Community, First National Bank and Valley National are all squarely in the territory of PNC Financial Services Group Inc., which is investing heavily in deposit gathering via digital channels. The Pittsburgh-based bank is trying to attract new customers outside its footprint with those efforts, while Bank of America Corp. is targeting the Pittsburgh area for new physical locations, among a number of other new markets around the country. As big banks lure new customers with robust and constantly evolving digital banking tools, it is clear that smaller institutions cannot afford to fall behind.


S&P Global Market Intelligence's 2018 mobile banking survey was fielded online between Feb. 8 and Feb. 21 across a nationwide random sample of U.S. mobile bank app users 18 years and older. Results have a margin of error of +/- 1.6% at the 95% confidence level based on the sample size of 4,000.

S&P Global Market Intelligence researched mobile apps between June and November 2018 for more than 70 financial institutions. These included the largest retail banking franchises in the U.S., and regional and community banks of various sizes. The analysis included each census division's top five retail deposit market share leaders with assets of roughly $50 billion or less. App details for the banks displayed above were updated Dec. 6. The app research is based on product descriptions available on bank websites and in app stores, as well as company-provided information. Some companies may have subsequently updated their apps or may offer additional features and services. This analysis does not reflect functionality or services available through text banking, mobile browsers or secure messaging.

For more details, see the 2018 US Mobile Banking Market Report.

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