US mobile banking on the rise - Fed study

US mobile banking on the rise - Fed study

Nearly 40% of banked Americans that have mobile phones now use their handsets to access their accounts, according to research from the Federal Reserve Board.

A survey of 2900 people on behalf of the Fed shows that mobile phones have become ubiquitous; 87% of respondents have handsets, and 71% of these are smartphones, up from 61% a year earlier.

This is changing how Americans access financial services, with 39% of phone owners who have bank accounts now using mobile banking, up from 33% a year ago. More than half of smartphone owners use mobile banking.

Checking account balances and recent transactions remains by far the most popular use of mobile banking, cited by 94% of respondents. Transferring money between accounts and receiving alerts are also popular, while 51% have deposited a cheque with their phone, up from 38% a year earlier.

Mobile payments are less common, with just 22% of those quizzed saying that they had made one in the previous 12 months, although this is up from 17% the previous year. Among mobile payment users with smartphones, the most common type of transaction, at 68%, is bill payment through an online system or app.

Meanwhile, 39% of all mobile payment users with smartphones have made a point-of-sale payment using their mobile phone in last year. The most common method of POS payment is scanning a QR code or barcode, while 22% used an app without having to scan or tap their handset.

The survey shows that while the underbanked make up 14% of consumers, 90% of that group has access to a mobile phone. The underbanked represent a higher incidence of mobile banking - 48% - than the fully banked - 37%.

Mobiles are also changing the way Americans shop. Among smartphone owners, 47% have used their phone to compare prices over the Internet, and 33% had scanned a barcode to find the best price while shopping in a store.

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