U.S. consumers are obsessed with managing their personal finances, according to research released by Sybase 365, a subsidiary of Sybase, Inc. (NYSE: SY), the global leader in messaging interoperability and mobile content delivery. More than a third of U.S. consumers, dubbed 'nano-economists,' are able to state their bank balance at any given time, and an additional 42 percent typically know their bank balance to the nearest $200.
The Sybase 365 mobile banking survey, titled 'Mobile Opportunities for the Financial Sector', was conducted in July 2007 across the Americas including the United States, Canada, Mexico, Argentina and Brazil. The study revealed that U.S. consumers are particularly obsessed with their finances, checking bank balances more frequently than the other regions. A majority of U.S. consumers check their bank balances very frequently; 61 percent admit to checking their bank balance at least every few days, including the core 29 percent who require daily updates.
The survey highlights another breed of personal banker, the 'financial ostrich', a term used to describe a small proportion of U.S. consumers (3 percent) who are completely ignorant about how much money is in their bank account at any given time. However, today's fast-paced society, coupled with the wealth of tools available to track their finances, means it is hard for consumers to remain in the dark.
The trend to remain abreast of personal finances has been made possible by the United States' technology-driven society with information and data services becoming increasingly accessible to consumers. Currently, U.S. consumers are banking via multiple methods with the vast majority using Internet banking (76 percent) to check their bank balance. Interestingly, the United States still has the most reliance on the postal service compared to the other regions surveyed in the Americas with nearly a quarter of U.S. consumers dependent on receiving their bank statements by mail.
The surge in Internet banking over the past two years has primarily been due to the convenience the service offers consumers. Similarly, mobile banking will provide consumers with the advantage of being able to manage their money on the move, suggesting it is the natural next step for banking services.
As the predecessor to mobile banking, exploring the adoption of Internet banking also reveals some interesting parallels in terms of os in terms of overcoming barriers, such as security concerns. U.S. consumers are now comfortable with Internet banking and therefore, the majority trust that the service is secure (57 percent). However, only 24 percent consider mobile banking to be secure. Consumers' lack of confidence in the security of mobile banking is due to a lack of knowledge, which is typical for new technologies. As more people adopt mobile banking, consumer perception around its security will change.
Additionally, mobile banking has not yet reached widespread consumer consciousness in the United States. In fact, a staggering 59 percent do not even know if their bank offers mobile banking, suggesting banks need to embark on a customer awareness campaign.
"Online banking is currently the number one way consumers check their account, but it didn't become mainstream over night. Mobile banking is well on its way to gaining the same wide-spread popularity among consumers," said Marty Beard, president, Sybase 365. "Consumers are already dependent on having many conveniences at their fingertips, and eventually that will expand to include banking abilities. Financial institutions will soon have to meet consumer demands and market mobile offerings to remain competitive."