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Americans not interested in m-banking

13 March 2008  |  8908 views  |  0 D600 mobile

Despite efforts by financial institutions to provide and promote mobile banking and payments services, over half of US consumers - 53% - have no interest in using their handsets for banking or commerce, according to a survey by Harris Interactive.

The poll of 1072 US adults found that just 16% of mobile phone subscribers already use their handsets for banking.

Security concerns continue to present the biggest barrier to take-up of m-banking services, with 66% of respondents saying they were "apprehensive" about using their handsets to transmit financial information.

Nearly as many - 63% - believe that m-banking would expose them to potential fraud and scams, whilst 61% worry about losing a mobile phone containing personal financial data.

Over half of those surveyed (58%) also cited cost of mobile financial services as a major issue. Other concerns focus on usability (43%), reliability (37%) and the speed of the wireless network (23%).

But Harris says there are signs that consumers are warming to the idea of using their phone for banking and purchase. According to the research around 25% of mobile phone users with mobile access to the Internet now use their devices to buy goods and services online with a credit card.

There is also some interest among those who not currently use m-banking services, with 35% of respondents saying they are "open" to checking account balances and transferring funds using their handsets. A third of respondents (33%) also said they would like to receive text message alerts from their bank.

Around 20% of respondents also said that "someday" they would like to use their phones as a mobile wallet, where charges are billed directly to their mobile accounts. In addition, 10% of the survey participants would "consider" wire transfers and stock trading via their mobile phones.

Joseph Porus, vice president, Harris Interactive, says while the survey indicates people have concerns associated with using mobile devices for financial transactions, it's similar to the evolution of the Internet as a viable tool for banking and buying.

"If security concerns can be quelled, the sky's the limit with consumer acceptance of mobile banking and purchase transactions," says Porus. "We expect mobile technology to only improve and become even more secure in the coming years. This should ease people's fears and make mobile commerce appealing in the future."

Over the past year major US banks, including Bank of America, Citibank, Wachovia and Wells Fargo, have rolled out a new generation of mobile banking applications for customers.

However research released by analyst group JupiterResearch last year found that, despite these renewed efforts, customer interest in mobile banking services is limited.

But this contrasts other research conducted by TowerGroup and Aite Group which predict that mobile banking take up in America will soar over the next few years.

In a study released in November 2007, TowerGroup said the number of users in the US will rise from 1.1 million in 2007 to more than 40 million by 2012.
Meanwhile an earlier report published by Aite Group in September 2007 predicted that the number of US customers using mobile banking services would surge from 1.6 million in 2007 to 35 million by year-end 2010.

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