The number of US subscribers to mobile banking has soared by more than 129% in the past two years to 13 million, according to a survey from Nielsen.
People who use their mobile phone for Web-based banking tend to be younger, male and more ethnically diverse than their online counterparts. Over a third - 36% - are between the ages of 25 and 34, while only 18% represent that same age group online. Males represent 53% of this population versus 43% online while 30% are Hispanic, compared to just 11% of Web banking users.
However, Web-based m-banking is still less popular than systems that rely on SMS text messaging, which also attracts a different demographic. This group is slightly older than their mobile web banking counterparts, with 48% over the age of 35.
David Gill, senior director, mobile marketing, Nielsen, says: "People who are comfortable using their mobile phones for mobile banking tend to check their mobile bank site twice a week. These customers are already highly engaged and eager for real-time solutions based on their specific needs."
Separate research conducted among eight financial institutions by TowerGroup on behalf of mobile vendor Clairmail found that adoption of the technology among customers exceeded initial expectations, with many witnessing over 10% of their online banking customers taking up the mobile channel within the first year. These same institutions experienced a 70% reduction in expensive call centre usage by mobile users and a 20-point increase in client retention.
TowerGroup forecasts growth in mobile banking users to rise from 10 million active users in 2009 to a projected 53 million in 2013.
George Tubin, senior research director at TowerGroup, comments: "Today's mobile-savvy consumers will soon view banks that do not offer mobile access as irrelevant, and banks without mobile banking will risk losing these customers."