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Mobile banking adoption to reach 61M US consumers next year: Forrester

Forrester forecasts 61 million United States consumers will use mobile banking next year, up from 47 million in 2012.

In the report, “The State of Mobile Banking 2012,” Forrester also predicts that the number of U.S. mobile banking users will double in the next five years and reach 108 million by 2017, accounting for 46 percent of U.S. bank account holders. North America leads in mobile banking with 13 percent of North American and 9 percent of European mobile phone owners using these services regularly.

“After several years of high expectations, mobile banking is finally seeing sustained traction in North America and Europe,” the report said. “Banks have rolled out support broad enough to enable customers with nearly any mobile device to access basic banking functionality.”

Mobile Web is popular
Forrester expects mobile banking to continue to grow as smartphone penetration grows and consumers become aware of the simplicity and immediacy of mobile banking.

In the United States, 65 percent of mobile bankers use mobile Web sites and 45 percent use apps, with some customers using both. Additionally, 27 percent of U.S. mobile bankers have received text alerts and 15 percent have sent a bank a text message.

 In Canada, 75 percent of mobile bankers use mobile Web sites while SMS alerts are still the most common type of mobile banking in Europe.

Additionally, mobile bankers in North America and Europe tend to be slightly younger, high-income and experienced online users who embrace technology. In North America, 71 percent of mobile bankers own a smartphone.

In terms of the most popular features, 61 percent of U.S. mobile bankers have checked their transaction history, 45 percent have checked their balance, 31 percent have transferred money between accounts, 29 percent have viewed their available credit for a credit card, 27 percent have paid a bill, 21 percent have used alerts that notify them of changes to their accounts and 20 percent have used alerts that notify them of security concerns.

Banks face challenges
While mobile banking will soon be main stream and everyday banking relationships are moving to mobile, digital banking leaders still face some significant challenges, including being able to keep up with the pace of change, according to Forrester.

Forrester’s research found that almost all large banks and many smaller ones now offer a range of basic mobile functions, with most having both a mobile Web site and apps on different platforms. Some banks have already seen the number of mobile interactions overtake the number of online interactions. 

When it comes to apps, most banks have chosen to offer one app with extensive functionality as opposed to a family of apps, each with a specific functionality.

Banks are also focusing on developing functionality for their apps that goes beyond basics such as checking a balance to use augmented reality to make it easier for customers to find a bank, remote deposit, enable person-to-person payments and offer mobile money management.

In terms of person-to-person payments, several methods have emerged, including enabling two customers to bump their phones together to transfer money, using a phone or email address to make a payment and using cash machines to send money to a mobile phone.

Banks are also testing contactless payments and using augmented reality to help home buyers understand the properties around them.

Additionally, tablets are high priority for banks look to develop offerings for tablet owners.

 “The pace of technological change, and the digital disruption it causes, continues to accelerate, often outpacing banks’ ability to keep up,” the report said. “Many banks are falling behind customers and competitors who are rapidly adopting new technologies.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York