Mobile Banking Skyrockets, Study Shows

Mobile devices are becoming one of the primary portals Americans are using to manage their finances, access the Internet or shop online. In recent years, mobile banking has been introduced to consumers, allowing them to forgo conducting transactions at physical financial locations, and opting instead to process them through their mobile device. While the mobile banking process was initially met with some concerns over security matters, these fears have been allayed in recent years. As a result, mobile banking platforms are booming, and expected to continue their upward growth, according to the results of a new study.

New data from leading research firm comScore reveals more Americans are relying on the mobile platform as a primary method of conducting financial transactions. The results of the study show the number of Americans who accessed their bank, credit card or brokerage account from their mobile device during the fourth quarter of 2010 increased by 54 percent from one year ago, topping out at 29.8 million consumers. Twenty-six percent of respondents say their mobile phone is the primary way in which they access their accounts. Only four percent say they conduct banking transactions by contacting the branch via phone calls and another 10 percent said they still do their banking at a branch.

“More people are turning to the convenience of mobile devices for their financial service needs, fueled in part by the adoption of smartphones, 3G devices and unlimited data plans,” comScore Vice President Sarah Lenart said. “The ubiquitous nature of mobile devices affords financial brands an important channel to reach and engage customers, whether it’s at home, work or on-the-go.”

The results also broke down the ways in which consumers accessed their financial accounts via their mobile devices during the fourth quarter of 2010. Roughly 18.6 million Americans gained entry to their accounts via a mobile browser, an increase of 58 percent from the previous year. Another 10.8 million relied on applications to access their accounts, up 120 percent from the same period of 2009. Lastly, the number of consumers who utilized SMS text messaging to access their accounts increased 35 percent to 8.1 million.

However, a small percentage of the respondents reported they were unaware they could access their bank accounts through their mobile devices. Six percent of smartphone users were unfamiliar with mobile banking services and 5 percent of non-smartphone users gave the same answer. Many banks are doubling their efforts to market mobile banking services to consumers, as evidenced by Bank of America’s recent announcement that it plans to hire new executives to make improvements to its mobile platform, according to Bloomberg.

However, almost 50 percent of those surveyed say they continue to rely on online banking to conduct the majority of their financial transactions. While mobile banking is expected to grow in the coming years, online platforms continue to provide customers with more services and flexibility in managing their accounts. Currently, typical mobile banking features allow consumers to check balances, transfer funds and, in some cases, deposit checks by photographing and emailing check images. However, online banking allows consumers to see a running list of account activity, pay bills and review their investment account details. Online banking also allows users to transfer funds to other customers, a popular service for parents with college-age children. Some mobile banking users are finding ways to maximize both services, as banks generally require users to have an online account with the institution before they can enroll in mobile banking.


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