One-fifth of Western European Net users use mobile banking today, according to a new Forrester report, which bills the emergence of the technology as a more important innovation than the arrival of cash machines (ATMs), credit cards or home-based online banking.
The report, based on more than 13,600 consumer surveys, finds SMS alerts are still the most popular form of mobile banking in most countries, but use of mobile banking apps is growing fast, rapidly displacing other channels.
Forrester believes that ubiquitous mobile banking will mark a bigger strategic shift for the industry than the adjustments needed to accommodate home-based online banking.
In both developed and developing economies, the analyst house suggests that mobile banking will become the primary way many, "perhaps most", customers interact with their banks.
Forrester analyst Benjamin Ensor says: "The longer we spend researching mobile banking, the more convinced I become that mobile banking is the most important innovation, or cluster of innovations, in retail banking in years, arguably in a century." Key findings:
- Consumers are most likely to use mobile banking to check balances, review transactions and transfer money between their accounts. Mobile banking app users are the biggest users of mobile transfers, with 36% of them using their mobile app to transfer money between their accounts in the past three months and 24% sending money to their friends or family.
- SMS alerts are the most commonly used type of mobile banking in Europe: 14% of European Net users with mobile phones used them in 2011, compared with 13% in 2010. SMS alerts are particularly popular in Spain and Italy.
- 9% of users access mobile banking websites, whether their bank has optimized its site or not. Adoption is particularly high in Spain and Sweden, where banks like Bankinter, la Caixa, and SEB are among the leaders in developing mobile banking.
- Only 5% use apps to manage mobile banking in Europe. Mobile banking apps are most popular in Sweden and France, where 14% and 8% of online adults with a mobile phone, respectively, use a mobile app to access their accounts. In the UK, however, adoption is only at 2%, mainly because UK banks were slow to offer mobile banking apps. In Germany mobile banking app adoption is 3%.