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Seventy percent of smartphone owners use mobile financial services

A study by market research firm Data Innovation Inc. found that nearly 70 percent of respondents had used at least one mobile banking and/or payments service in the past three months.

For the debut of its Mobile Money Study, Data Innovation surveyed 246 smartphone users  in December. Mobile banking services were most popular, but consumers are using and interested in other options such as a mobile wallet.

“One of the key takeaways of the survey is that we found 70 percent of smartphone users are accessing some sort of mobile financial services,” said Sima Vasa, founder/CEO of Data Innovation, Port Washington, NY. “Many financial institutions have said that consumers are accessing their Web sites via their handsets, and this study confirms it.

“Consumers are going beyond the basic stuff related to mobile financial services, including transferring money and paying bills using their mobile devices,” she said. “Mobile devices are becoming a stronger platform for financial services and banking.”

Data Innovation specializes in mobile industry market research.

The Data Innovation research panel is screened for key demographics and can join only from a mobile device.

Mobile financial services
As expected, the most popular mobile banking service was checking account balances (82 percent), followed by checking posted transactions (62 percent).

Other popular services included mobile account alerts (46 percent), transferring money between accounts in the same bank (almost 40 percent) and mobile bill pay (29 percent).

Use of mobile financial services is also expanding beyond mobile banking.

Popular services include checking posted transactions to a credit card (more than 50 percent) and conducting mobile commerce transactions (40 percent).

As mobile banking and payments become more mainstream, financial institutions are scrambling to identify and deploy the most desirable and valuable services.

Survey respondents expressed interest in account alerts (60 percent), mobile bill pay (more than 50 percent), mobile person-to-person payments services (25 percent), mobile remittances (20 percent) and accessing stock market data (18 percent).

“In addition to banks, other financial institutions are jumping into the boat as well, and consumers are accessing their credit card accounts and making purchases using their smartphones,” Ms. Vasa said. “We are still seeing peer-to-peer payments via platforms such as PayPal and Obopay—those are the ones that seem to come up quite often.

“A lot of these organizations do have mobile as a focus, with separate divisions and people focused on their mobile strategy,” she said. “From their perspective, mobile is effective at reducing costs from their storefront channel.

“Many still need to figure out how all the various channels work together, but we are seeing more and more activity around mobile.”

Mobile wallet
Interestingly, a large number of survey respondents were interested in the concept of a mobile wallet.

Although no commercial mobile wallet platform is available in the United States today, nearly two-thirds of respondents stated they would be interested in this type of technology and service.

Only 10 percent stated they were not interested in a mobile wallet, and 25 percent said they were not sure, which could indicate that they need more information on the service.

“The other point of the survey that was quite interesting and surprising is the interest around the concept of a mobile wallet—consumers want it in the near future,” Ms. Vasa said. “People are still concerned about privacy and security, but nearly two-thirds of respondents are interested in that technology to make payments.

“Ensuring the technology is secure is vital, as is communication and the practice behind ensuring security,” she said. “The evolution of technology and educating consumers about how their privacy is protected is important going forward.”