Todd Schofield’s unusual title is a reflection of the key role mobile commerce plays at financial services provider Standard Chartered Bank, an international operator of 1,800 branches on six continents.

“It came from our CIO’s vision of what’s really the future of banking, how a smartphone or tablet could equip and enable our staff and our customers on the go without booting up,” says Schofield. “In customer-facing uses, we knew we could serve them much better.”

For example, Standard Chartered offers many hundreds of investment funds, and apps help relationship managers examine funds and filter by currency exchange rates in real time from the bank’s own back-end systems.

Across a 3G connection, Scofield says, “you can say ‘I really want property, and I really want it to be in USD,’ and easy to surface information arrives with details and fact sheets built in.”

It’s part elegance of design and part immediacy, both of which Apple itself came to promote once Standard Chartered’s apps were in use. One iPad app built for Standard Chartered’s board of directors was so successful that it’s been commercialized and sells at the App Store.

“We use the word ‘friction’ a lot, and in customer interaction, we want low friction,” Schofield says. It’s a combination of user utility and low latency that makes even older generation iPhones now feel “painfully slow” to his sales and customer community.

Standard Chartered has built about a dozen apps for staff and another six for customers to access their decision history. It’s both changed and facilitated an existing process. “It’s a couple seconds to on-the-spot accurate detail that bring better engagement either with a customer or with an employee on the job.”

Quotable: “It allows us to be able to have a structured conversation that is assisted by something that the bank employee or the customer can touch and say ‘I kind of like this here, this is my risk tolerance.’ That customer is going to be more engaged, more likely to open an account, more likely to take on more products. We’re not using it in a ‘let’s just sell as much as we can to whoever we can' way. It’s about making the right fit.”

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