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Mobile banking will exceed online services by 2015: Mercatus

A new Mercatus study found that more consumers will use mobile banking than  online services by 2015.

The study also found that banks can improve customer acquisition by 60 percent by including mobile in their suite of services. The study was sponsored by Visa and was conducted over six-months.

“There are a couple of key findings – the biggest key finding from our perspective is that there is a much greater uptake in mobile financial services used by consumers than most had previously thought,” said Teresa Epperson, partner at Mercatus, Boston. “The second key finding is that mobile financial service adopters are very attractive customers for banks.

“The third is having mobile capabilities and offerings provide banks with an acquisition advantage,” she said.

Ms. Epperson said analysis of the findings showed that banks that have mobile features as part of their offerings had a clear lift in customer acquisition rates.

Mercatus is a consulting and investing firm focused on retail financial services. 

The mobile attraction
For the study, Mercatus consulted more than 1,400 consumers over the age of 18 with mobile phones and checking accounts.

Mercatus found that the adoption rate of mobile financial services is surpassing that of other financial service innovations such as online banking and ATMS. The study also found that nearly one-third of consumers are using or considering using mobile financial services within the next year.

Mike Friedman, senior analyst at Mercatus, said that while conventional adoption wisdom previously predicted that mobile financial services would be adopted by the tech-centric younger population, the firm’s research found it has become more mainstream with consumers under the age of 49.

“The rate at which consumers are adopting mobile banking is considerably quicker,” Mr. Friedman said. “As a result, we expect the number of mobile banking consumers to surpass those who use online banking by 2015.”

The study also found that mobile users are an attractive customer segment for financial institutions because they are younger and have higher incomes, hold higher balances at their primary bank and use more banking and card products.

Ms. Epperson said that when Mercatus was speaking with large financial institutions, many said that they had mobile services on the fringe and that they were thinking about it but waiting for more data to build a solid business case.

“A key next step is to move quickly – first-movers have an advantage by getting out in the marketplace with mobile,” Ms. Epperson said. “Those that have something already have speed to market, and it provides them with an advantage by attracting and keeping those customers.

“Act quickly, that would be the advice,” she said.