Despite soaring growth in the popularity of smartphones, mobile banking uptake has stalled in the US, with security concerns continuing to put people off, according to Javelin Strategy & Research.
In a report based on three surveys with more than 13,000 people, Javelin says there has been a 42% increase in the number of smartphone owners over the last year, with 34% of the population now owning one.
However, the percentage of these smartphone owners that actually use their handsets for banking has stayed fairly static. In 2010 63% had never used mobile banking, compared to 59% in 2011.
Of all respondents, 18% had used mobile banking in the previous 90 days, with a huge variance between customers of different banks. USAA Bank - which has virtually no branch network - comes out top, followed by heavy investors in mobile Citi and Bank of America. In contrast Fifth Third, HSBC and TD Bank have seen little interest.
Security concerns continue to be the major barrier - between 2009 and 2010 the number of consumers who rated mobile banking as "unsafe" or "very unsafe" increased by 54%.
To help tackle this concern, banks should focus, in the short term at least, on browser-based mobile banking rather than applications, says Javelin. In 2010, asked which method they consider most secure, 47% said browser-based, compared to just 23% for downloaded apps.
This represents a big shift from the previous year - when the percentages were nearly the same at 34% for browser and 32% for apps - possibly explained by instances such as the malware attacks in March 2011 on Google's Android Market.
James Van Dyke, president, Javelin, says: "FIs need to get ahead of the problem and focus both on addressing security concerns and responding to consumers' needs around mobile banking. Really listen to consumers and give them what they want."