First Direct (Part of HSBC) in the UK has been running for quite some time now as one of the UK's higher rated banks for customer service based on independent reviews and money guru websites. However it looks like interest for Windows Phone or Windows Phone development isn't one of those things that they're highly rated for - if their customer feedback is anything to go by. I'll start off by giving you a link to their "Labs" page - a place where their customers speak up and tell the bank what they want from them: Your suggestions - first direct Lab.
First Direct are introducing a "Secure Key" system for people to log in to their accounts. Without a Secure Key, customer's account access will be restricted, with the most important features disabled without it (when using their rather outdated-looking website). The Secure Key can be accessed via either a rather huge calculator-style device (not very mobile at all for mobile banking) or a "Secure Key" app.
This is where the Windows Phone issue comes in - there have been several messages from First Direct staff clearly slating the Windows Phone platform, saying that it's market share isn't good enough, and that they refuse to even consider an app until mid-late next year, when the next WP overhaul is released. There are currently apps available for iPhone, iPad and Android. I was quite shocked given these comments were from official representatives of the company, and it's clear they're not putting their customers first with the basics, such as the ability to log in for a fully available banking facility online. As it stands the suggestions page is littered heavily with WP app requests, yet they would rather develop for the iPad as a priority. You can't even go past 8 or 10 suggestions without finding someone either requesting for, or moaning about the lack of a WP app. Some of the comments from the staff are below:
"Hi @ Charles Durrant thanks for the reply. I know browser stats is certainly one of the ways we gather information but I also know we do other types of survey's as well. My own personal exposure to Windows mobile is minimal; one person I know has one. Labs and Twitter has seen a significant rise in vocal supports for Windows mobile so you are right that number does seem to be growing and when it reaches a threshold it will clearly have proven itself as a contender. Thanks for the offer of developing the app I wouldn't even know where to send you for more information on that."
"Hi @ Charles Durrant thanks for the suggestion. The truth is the amount of first direct users with a Windows phone is a very small customer base. Because of this we would not look to support it until that base increases. The Android app came out a couple of years after the iPhone at a period when it was over taking the UK market share but it had only just gained enough traction with first direct users. We will of course keep track of our user base and monitor how many Windows phone users we have."
"Hi @steve, thanks for your request. At present, we're not developing an app for Windows phones. This is because while its share has been increasing, Windows is still very much a minority mobile phone operating system in the UK market which is dominated by Android and Apple's iOS. As such, the expense involved in developing this would benefit a relatively small number of customers, and reduce the level of spending on other projects. This means it is not something we would look to pursue at this time, but I have recorded your interest in case things change in the future."
"Hi @ Please give us a Windows Phone 8 App!
We have received numerous request for a Windows Phone App and do understand that more people are migrating to the Windows Phone platform all the time. However, the platform is due for a major overhaul during 2014. This means it is not viable at present for us to develop a Windows phone app. After the changes, we will look at the Windows platform to see if an app is something we can offer."
"Hi @OxtedWomble we currently have no plans to develop a Windows 8 app. Next year Windows 8 mobile will be replaced by the next version. We will be assessing where Windows stands in the smart phone arena and whether a Windows app is a viable option."
..."Windows 8 Mobile"? - You're having a laugh aren't you? You can't even get it's name right.
What do you think of some of these comments? There are a large selection of customer requests screaming out for an app which have been ignored, and over the time quite a few have been removed by FD themselves (missing comments - I have been keeping track). Those small set of comments only go back about a week or two as well. If you factor in the last few months, that totals a LOT of WP requests.
I'm sure, if 4 or 5 other high street banks can get it right, so can FD. Doesn't look like any time soon. Well, probably mid to late 2014 before they even consider.
The thing that's annoying is the fact they say "when the market share gets better..." - without apps in the first place, there is little or no interest to begin with. And talking about market share - it may be around 3.7% worldwide, but I thought the UK figure was much higher? around 8.5%?
So are you a First Direct customer that might be affected by the restriction of service to WP users? What's your opinion? :)