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ClairMail expands mobile banking to Android, BlackBerry

Mobile banking and payment service provider ClairMail Inc. has extended its clients’ mobile Web experience to Google’s Android and Research In Motion’s BlackBerry devices.

Based on its SmartRendering technology, the ClairMail platform now supports a device-optimized version of the ClairMail mobile Web experience for BlackBerry and Android-based phones such as the Curve, Storm, Pearl, Motorola Droid and Google’s Nexus One, with plans to support other devices as they are introduced to market.

“For us, the smartphone is key because all surveys show that not only are smartphone owners more likely to use mobile banking, but mobile banking users are more likely to be smartphone owners,” said Donald MacCormick, vice president of products and engineering at ClairMail, Novato, CA. “For mobile banking, smartphones are the ultimate target.

“We’ve always believed the key to mobile banking is the fact that you have your phone with you almost all the time,” he said. “As smartphones in general get more pervasive, it’s an area we’ll see more and more activity.

“We can’t forget BlackBerry, which is still a very popular smartphone, and the whole Android movement is clearly going to be a big part of the market going forward, so we added our latest capability to support both of those phones.”

ClairMail provides the mobile Web banking functionality on several hundred handsets, including Apple’s iPhone, with its proprietary device detection technology that delivers an optimized user experience based on each device’s specific capabilities.

ClairMail clients include First National Bank of Scotia, Alerus Financial, Bank of Stockton, Bank of Trust, BB&T, Cascade Bank, City Bank of Texas, Intercredit Bank, PNC Bank, State Bank & Trust, Tri Counties Bank, USA Federal Credit Union and Veridian Credit Union.

Smart move to support smartphones
Javelin Strategy & Research forecasts that 52 percent of mobile-phone owners will tote a smartphone by 2014.
To capitalize on smartphone owners and establish themselves as mobile-banking innovators, financial institutions must quickly develop ways to specifically serve the leading smartphones, starting with the iPhone, BlackBerry and Android-based phones.

While Apple’s iPhone has garnered much attention since its introduction in June 2007, RIM’s BlackBerry devices remain the most widely adopted in the U.S., with approximately 15 million in use according to comScore.

Google’s Android OS, a newer contender in the smartphone market, has seen adoption double over the past year, according to ClairMail.

Taking advantage of the latest improvements in mobile browser technology, ClairMail claims that its mobile Web infrastructure lets smartphone devices provide a streamlined, quality user experience without having to download an application.

This optimized mobile Web capability is an integral part of ClairMail’s recently announced Smart Client technology, an approach to the delivery of mobile banking on smartphones first introduced for the iPhone in September.

The Smart Client is a hybrid approach that fuses the centralized manageability of the optimized mobile Web experience with a small downloadable application that acts as a bridge to native capabilities of the device not otherwise available to the mobile browser such as push notification alerting, GPS access and NFC capabilities.

Mobile banking end-users can also opt to receive alerts via SMS.

In fact,ClairMail recommends that its clients adopt the mobile banking triple play—SMS, a mobile Web site and an application.

On the up and up
ClairMail believes that 2009 was a tipping point for mobile banking, and the company expects mobile banking to grow by leaps and bounds this year.

“We’ll look back at 2009 as a pivotal year in mobile banking, coming through financial crisis, and towards end of year things were freeing up again,” Mr. MacCormick said. “The market really started to understand the need for mobile banking last year, and that will be executed in 2010.

“It’s ready to take off—there’s a lot of talk about how it’s important, but still relatively few banks are actually doing this, but I believe that will change dramatically in 2010,” he said.

“2010 will be a big year for mobile banking.”