The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Natwest have launched a mobile application to allow Research in Motion (RIM) Blackberry device users to transfer funds between bank accounts.
The new app also allows customers to check account balances, locate cash machines and top up pre-paid mobile accounts.
Ben Green, head of mobile at RBS and Natwest, said the development of a native Blackberry app provides an alternative to accessing mobile banking services via a web browser.
Green acknowledged the need to "aggressively broaden" its mobile strategy beyond Apple's iOS platform to be the UK bank that is famous for its mobile banking services. "It's no good being famous for mobile if you're only on Apple," he said.
The retail bank released an app for Apple iPhone and iPad devices earlier in 2011, which hundreds of thousands of customers regularly use for mobile banking services. RBS also launched an HTML5 app for the Blackberry Playbook in June 2011.
RBS and Natwest decided to develop the app natively in-house rather than use one of the many cross-platform development tools. Green admitted the bank is still considering whether to develop apps natively or cross-platform in the future.
"I'm not convinced anyone in the mobile market knows what the right answer is at the moment. Developing natively doesn't cut us off from other things. If we find this isn't the most efficient method, we will adapt to new customer behaviours," he said.
He said the Blackberry platform allows the company to target its corporate audience as well as the youth market, which has boosted the Blackberry Messaging (BBM) market in the UK.
Green said the development process was a lot quicker than other RBS development cycles. The team used a "cut of the iPhone app" to build the app in "record time".
RBS and Natwest previously launched a Monilink app for Blackberry smartphones, using mobile supplier Monitise's platform. Green said the new native app provides a slicker interface and greater integration with RBS systems.
Green said the bank had to decide whether to build new infrastructure to support mobile banking or use its old systems. RBS and Natwest decided to use a hybrid between its well-established and highly secure banking platform and newer mobile platforms.
The firm could make additional platform developments to support mobile banking. "We're finding our way with a new front end and need to test skills to render high-quality services for customers," he said.
Green added that RBS and Natwest have "big bold plans for the future" in terms of mobile banking.
The app is now available to download from Blackberry App World.