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Mobile Awareness: Let Your Customers Know They Can Bank Online via Smartphone Now

image Yesterday, Apple announced it has shipped 50 million iPhone/iPod Touches in the past two years. And they are not even the smartphone leader. You can bet that many (most?) new smartphone-owning-online-banking-using customers haven’t a clue how to connect to their financial institution through their mobile. And even if they know how, there’s still that nagging doubt as to whether it’s a safe/smart thing to do.

Therefore, if you want to drive significant mobile usage, there are a number of steps to take (see note 1). But one of the most important is user education, especially through online information, screenshots, and demos. 

Citibank recently elevated general smartphone awareness to its homepage (see first screenshot below). Yesterday, the bank was rotating an “Introducing CitiMobile for Smartphone” banner across the top of the homepage. The banner led to an educational page (see second screenshot, note 2), that led to clear instructions on how to bank via a mobile browser:

  • Open browser
  • Go to (note 3)
  • Log in using your same online banking credentials

While brevity is admirable, I think customers need a little more info than that. For a non-user, the process sounds almost too good to be true. The bank should elaborate on some key questions such as:

  • Is it secure? (see update below)
  • What does it cost?
  • Does it work on my phone?
  • What if I lose my phone?

Luckily, interested users can go to the well-designed demo that takes users through a semi-guided tour of the mobile banking functions. The Flash-based demo is partially interactive, allowing users to click buttons on a smartphone emulator (see third screenshot). After clicking on a new function, the demo takes over, completing the data entry and going forward to the next screen. Check it out here

Update (22 Sep 2009): An email from a Citi Mobile employee pointed out that I missed the security and other info in the right-hand column of the landing page below. I apologize for the omission. 

Citibank homepage (9 Sep 09)


Citi Mobile for Smartphones landing page (link)


Citibank mobile demo with interactive emulator


1. For more info, see Online Banking Report on Mobile Banking (Feb 2007) and Online Banking Report: Mobile Banking via iPhone (Mar 2009)
2. The bank has separate pages for: Citi Mobile for iPhone and Citi Mobile for Other Models
3. Citi still has some work to do on optimizing the mobile Web experience (see update below). I navigated via my iPhone to its homepage (see inset) which looks terrible: The page is rendered impossibly tiny (requiring finger zooming), and because the two Flash-based animations don’t work on iPhones, the top of the page is dominated by two empty boxes.

Update (22 Sep 2009): The site is now rendering perfectly on my iPhone. I see a mobile-optimized site similar to the Citi iPhone app. I’m not sure what was going on Sep 10 when I took this screenshot. It’s possible I got the wrong page by navigating to Citi through the Google app.