Branches and the Internet still provide customers with a more positive banking experience than mobile phones but the nascent channel is catching up fast, according to a global survey from Capgemini and Efma.
The pair quizzed 18,000 people across 35 countries for their Customer Experience Index (CEI) report, finding that nearly three quarters of customers today have never used mobile banking.
However, the near ubiquity of handsets and the fact that customers are increasing the amount of time they spend and the number of activities they perform through them, means that the channel is set to experience rapid growth, with 60% of people worldwide mobile banking by 2015, predicts the report.
The incentives for customers - accessibility and convenience - are matched by the incentives for banks, helping them to move users away from more expensive channels, such as the branch. At the same time, mobile can be used to drive revenues by enabling banks to target the large numbers of unbanked people, especially in emerging markets.
With so much at stake, the report warns that the industry as a whole needs to establish a presence in mobile simply to ensure it doesn't lose market share to new players such as telcos and technology companies.
Banks also need to improve the mobile experience for customers, an area in which it lags behind the branch and Internet in all regions of the world. In Western Europe, 42% of respondents say that their experience of branch banking is positive, while 49% give online a thumbs up. In contrast, just 28% say the same about mobile banking.
However, the data suggests that, starting from a low base, mobile satisfaction is at least moving in the right direction, with a higher percentage of positive experiences reported in 2012 than 2011 in all regions, except North America, where there was a two per cent dip.
The CEI report also reveals that nine per cent of customers around the world are likely to leave their banks in the next six months while 40% are unsure they'll stay long term. Asked what factors are most likely to keep them loyal to their bank, 53% say quality of service, 50% fees and 49% ease of use.
Despite the widely-held assumption that customers are very unhappy with their banks, 80% of North Americans say that they are "satisfied" with theirs. In Central Europe it is 71%, Latin America 69%, Western Europe 66% and Asia Pacific 53%.
Jean Lassignardie, global head, sales and marketing, Capgemini Financial Services, says: "Banks should be applauded for taking the necessary, initial steps to sustain customer relationships. However, as more non-bank competitors enter the market, banks must differentiate by building innovative products, improving channel management and service, and enhancing their mobile offerings."