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Mobile banking used by 17 percent of US adults: MMA

A new survey from the Mobile Marketing Association and its research partner Luth Research found that 17 percent of all adults in the United States currently use mobile banking, a sign that consumers are embracing the service.

The survey findings indicated that mobile banking usage will grow to 22 percent by the end of 2010. Luth Research surveyed an online panel of more than 1,000 U.S. adults.

“The key finding is that mobile banking is already popular and will grow more so in the next 12 months,” said Peter Johnson, vice president of market intelligence and strategy at the MMA, New York.

“Currently, almost one-in-five, 19 percent, of mobile consumers report they do some mobile banking, and during 2010, 25 percent of mobile consumers plan to do so,” he said. “This six-percentage-point increase represents about a 30 percent year-over-year growth rate in mobile banking.”

The MMA is the global nonprofit trade association established to lead the growth of mobile marketing and its associated technologies.

Luth Research is a market research firm that helps businesses track emerging trends and measure message effectiveness.

Mobile banking heats up
According to the survey, 92 percent of respondents own a mobile phone and 19 percent, an amount equivalent to 17 percent of adult U.S. consumers, said they currently use mobile banking.

Eleven percent of respondents said the most common form of mobile banking they use involves a mobile Web browser.

SMS was used by 8 percent and applications by 5.5 percent.

Responses from the surveyed group indicated that over the next 12 months, mobile-Web-based banking will grow to 14 percent, while applications will grow to 8.5 percent. SMS mobile banking usage will likely remain flat.

Based on the survey, about half of U.S. consumers express interest in accessing one or more banking services via their mobile phones.

Respondents said they generally prefer informational services such as viewing account balances and locating branches or ATMs, more than transactional services, especially when a third party is involved.

Mr. Johnson said the different ethnicities in America had different mobile banking adoption rates.

“Caucasians in particular are adopting mobile banking at a slower rate than other groups such as Asian Americans or Hispanics, for example,” Mr. Johnson said. “And among the non-Caucasian groups, there appear to be noticeable preferences for different services across the different communities.”

The MMA also found that there is a high interest in using smartphones as a payment mechanism, replacing a physical swipe credit or debit card.

Consumers using smartphone devices such as Apple’s iPhone and Research In Motion’s BlackBerry are more likely to use mobile banking, more so than others younger than 35.

Comfort first
Mr. Johnson said adoption of mobile banking will follow a comfort curve.

Survey responses indicated services that do not directly cause money to change hands will be adopted first, followed by transactional ones.

Mr. Johnson said there is a lot more interest in mobile banking than a lot of bankers probably suspect, and like the ATM, mobile banking has the potential to provide improved customer service and cut costs.

“[Financial institutions] should market the specific benefits, not the concept,” Mr. Johnson said. “Consumers are interested in mobile banking, yes, but they get even more excited about the specific ways it can empower them such as checking and updating balances.

“Bankers need to start thinking about the ethnicity of their mobile customers or they risk marketing the wrong service to the wrong community,” he said.