Research at Rady: Shifting Toward Mobile Banking

May 17, 2017
by Hallie Jacobs


Rady School of Management professor Wendy Liu recruited a team of Rady School students to help with a market research project aimed at understanding consumer behavior in mobile banking. The research was commissioned by Mitek Systems, a B2B company that provides the core mobile deposit technology to over 95% of all U.S. banks. Mitek sought to gain a deeper understanding of why consumers adopt or do not adopt mobile deposit, and how they interact with the technology. When Mitek looked to the Rady School for expertise and help, they found a connection with professor Wendy Liu, who specializes in consumer behavior research.

The researchers conducted an in-depth behavioral study for Mitek involving a “training experiment.” Specifically, the researchers conducted face-to-face training sessions with consumers to teach them how to install and use mobile deposit on their smartphone. Consumers were tracked over a five-month period, including before and after the training session.

“The key to the study is a training intervention we instituted in the middle of this five months period, so that we can learn about consumers' behavior before and after our training intervention,” Liu said.

Rady School students Tyler Church, Keshav Prabhu, Kamini Patel, Somashubhra Bhattacharya, Luis Rodriguez-martin, Farrah Zhao and Celine Li  participated in the research with Professor Wendy Liu. Prabhu was interested in getting involved with the study to apply the knowledge he learned in his Rady School coursework to real-world research.

“After taking Professor Liu's consumer behavior course, I felt I would enjoy the opportunity to get a deeper understanding of how consumers make decisions,” said Keshav Prabhu (MBA ’17). “I also had found marketing courses to be the most interesting topics during the course of my MBA so decided to take additional electives in marketing.”

The MBA students involved with the study collected data from subjects by survey and interviews and analyzed the data the team generated. Once the data was collected and analyzed, students created a presentation and presented the findings and insights to the Mitek executive team, including the product manager for mobile deposit, the general manager for payments, and Mitek’s CMO.

Research insights

After working with about 70 consumers and giving them training sessions to use mobile banking, the team was able to identify some of the greatest impediments that discourage consumers from adopting mobile deposit, including inaccurate perceptions of security risk and usage cost. Further, the study showed that an in-person training session is highly effective in helping consumers overcome these concerns.

“This project for a banking client gave students an opportunity to practice market research in an important field with high stakes,” Liu said, “They gained experience in designing a study, collecting and analyzing in-depth behavioral data, and interpreting and presenting the insights from the study.”

While the study has not been published yet, the team believes their findings could be used for future studies and analyses.

“I believe Mitek can use our project as a basis for future study on mobile deposit use behavior,” Prabhu said. “Our data was not representative of the larger population; however it does provide a good starting point to direct Mitek in partnering with banks to run additional experiments in the field to gather more data.”

Prabhu believed participating in the study was extremely beneficial for both his academic and professional careers. 

“I deepened my basic understanding of preparing surveys to ask the right questions and collect data, as well as analyzing that data within the context of a marketing problem,” Prabhu said. “As someone that’s worked as an engineer in electronics and manufacturing, I was able to gain practical experience that I can show potential future employers of my accomplishments in marketing and business.”

“Our study helped Mitek gain valuable deeper insights into why people adopt or do not adopt mobile deposit, and further, to what extent an in-person training session of the technology could be helpful,” Liu said. “Our study paradigm can also be adapted to help other technology sectors to understand technology adoption by consumers in general.”

About Wendy Liu

Wendy Liu specializes in consumer judgment and decision making, focusing on the cognitive and emotional basis of consumer choice, social interactions, and well-being. Her recent research topics include decision making under complexity, such as shortlist formation, decisions involving risk, self control decisions, the role of complex emotions, contextualized motivations and values, and consumer behavior in medical and health domains.

Liu’s research has been published in leading marketing and management journals such as the Journal of Consumer Research and Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. Her work has also been featured in the national media, such as Businessweek and Time Magazine.

Liu received her Ph.D. in Marketing from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. She is currently an Associate Professor of Marketing at the UCSD Rady School of Management, and teaches Consumer Behavior to MBA students.

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