While the use of mobile banking is going up, smartphone users don't want to pay extra to do their banking from their devices, and banks aren't making money yet from the mobile services, says a new survey from IDC.
Banks that do offer mobile banking saw almost double the use of these services from 2008 to 2009, according to IDC Financial Services' "2009 Consumer Mobile Banking Preferences Survey Results - Waiting for Takeoff." Use of mobile banking also showed an overall gain throughout the banking industry.
Similarly, a recent study by comScore found that 13.2 million people accessed bank accounts from mobile sites during the month of April, 2010, a 70 percent increase over a year ago.
Consumers "Getting More Comfortable"
In IDC's survey results, mobile banking services turned out to be most popular among younger males, although all demographics showed usage of the services.
Check image viewing and getting rate information on the mobile device seemed to wane, but customized alerts increased, for instance.
The survey also suggested that consumers are getting more comfortable about setting up bank accounts online, outside of traditional brick-and-mortar branch locations, said Marc DeCastro, senior research manager for IDC Financial Insights, in a statement.
Yet although mobile banking might have turned the corner in terms of customer acceptance over the past year, it still isn't a mainstream channel.
Consumers Won't Pay Extra
"The challenge with mobile banking continues to be that it introduces a new cost structure, without providing [banks with] opportunities for revenue," according to the report.
"Customers have become accustomed to having more for free, and the convenience of mobile banking so far does not appear to be something that people are willing to pay for," the researchers acknowledged.
Mobile Banking in Real Life
While not cited in IDC's report as examples, early mobile banking apps have included a Windows implementation at Wachovia Bank, an iPhone and RIM BlackBerry solution at Canadian bank ING Direct, and US. Bank's Mobile Wallet.
Designed to support multiple mobile platforms, Mobile Wallet has allowed customers to check balances, review transaction histories, transfer funds between accounts, check their rewards balances, and view special offers from U.S. Bank, for instance.
Yet while some banks are jumping into the mobile space with banking solutions "others are still pondering their entrance," noted IDC's DeCastro.
New Apps on the Way
Some experts have pointed to lingering worries in the mobile banking arena around phishing and other security concerns.
However, IDC's survey results focus instead on the need for banks to gear up for mobile services now, in anticipation of new banking applications coming down the pike.
The increasing availability of new mobile banking apps in the future, such as deposit capture and payment solutions, will provide "more opportunities for financial institutions to potentially gain some revenue opportunities," according to the report.
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