Bank Ratings Go Handheld – IRA Begins Experimenting with Mobile Analytics Apps

The days of the desktop or even laptop computer as a person’s primary interface to the internet are numbered. The trend is to do more and more on the go on your telephone handset. Everything needs to re-cast itself onto these devices as terms like IPhone and Android replace PC and MAC as what people argue when talking platform preference. We see banks going from “on line” banking to “in hand” banking. The applications themselves are compacted down XHTML mini-websites that run quite well on mobile browsers that are then encapsulated inside device specific app shells to make them more convenient on a person’s phone. Ok that gets the supply side of banking tools moving.

It’s only logical that the next step is to bring consumer and even professional analytics to the handheld device. There is need for independent ways to find banks and — more important — ask consumer choice questions about how they rate compared to their neighbors. At Institutional Risk Analytics, we think that need extends to something anyone can access on the go. Having built and donated the online tool that helped power the “Move Your Money” project earlier this year, we got plenty of exposure to what consumers need in the palms of their hands so we decided to take a crack at a testbed.

Try it yourself on your phone’s browser at http://us1.irabankratings.com/mobile/home.asp

The tool is laid out in the simplistic “point and shoot” style guide necessary to make it work while standing in line at Starbucks. It works on a regular browser too actually in keeping with adhereing to the simplest possible HTML tenets. We decided to start our tests with four functions.

1. Get a Grade – Shows if the bank is above or below the ‘B or better’ marker line.

2. Find Nearby Banks – Finds banks by zip code for now. We’ll make it device location aware a little later.

3. Read the Latest IRA Newsletter Article – Provides a simple test for packaging in depth writing so we can figure out how news and blog sources should interact with a handheld surveillance tool.

4. Industry Fact Sheets – To experiment with packaging numbers intensive reference data into a handheld device.

And then it gets better,

This experimental application covers all banks large and small so you can look up the branches of the mega money centers as easily as the tiny community banks. It delivers grades on them all and lists of nearby branches. Then the tool has “map links” that will automatically invoke Google Maps with one touch of your thumb.

But wait there’s more,

A fifth function allows your phone to log in to IRA’s online IRABankRatings.com consumer and light industrial system and once logged it’ll enable you to access all the reports you have your desktop/laptop application from the browser. If you are a full level advisory or government user of the even more powerful Professional IRA Bank Monitor with it’s Counterparty Quality Scoring and “Shadow” CAMELS calculators, it will let you extend those reports into your handset too.

This means the tool silo is set up like a layer cake of horsepower. Use the level most appropriate to the type of user you are. The purpose of this of course is to enable everyone from casual consumers to field personnel to have a greater portion of their information needs served conveniently because this in the end is what preventing future systemic risk is all about. Efficient market discipline means increasing transparency for everyone from the most learned elites to the proverbial little old lady from Pasadena.

Take a look for yourself. It’s pretty cool for a five day old application. I expect we’ll see more of these kinds of “ordinary people’s” surveillance tools tracking banks by others over time. Some will help keep the playing field more transparent and others will market special interests. But if we all learn to read between the lines better we will ward off becoming a “Third World America”.

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