Research reveals global appetite for mobile banking services


There is significant enthusiasm for mobile banking services among consumers worldwide, according to research released by Sybase 365, a subsidiary of Sybase, the specialist in messaging interoperability and mobile content delivery.  Surveys conducted in the Americas, Europe and Asia-Pacific regions are said to have shown a burgeoning demand for mobile banking among users, though this is tempered by concerns about security and lack of awareness.

Europe appears most eager to take advantage of mobile banking, with 61 percent of mobile users interested in mobile services if offered by their bank.  This compares to 40 percent in Asia-Pacific, and 37 percent of those surveyed in the Americas (including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and the US), who would like to be able to interact with their bank via a mobile device.  In fact, in each of the regions surveyed, more than a quarter of respondents would consider switching banks if an alternative provider offered them free mobile banking.

While the study points to a strong interest in mobile banking, it also reveals that mobile banking is still in its infancy around the globe.  As would be expected, the service is almost twice as prevalent in Asia-Pacific, with 15.4 percent of those surveyed in the region reporting to have used a mobile phone to check their bank balance in the prior three months.  This compares to just 8.7 percent in the Americas and 7 percent in Europe, which shows there is a disparity between the demand for mobile banking services and the availability of services. 

Underlying the worldwide enthusiasm for mobile banking is a trend that has been coined by the survey as ‘nano-economics,' or a near obsession by consumers with managing their finances to the cent and by the minute.  In both the United States and Europe, 40 percent of those surveyed claim to know exactly how much money they have in their bank account at all times and 41 percent check bank balances on a daily basis.  Mobile banking services cater to this trend, offering the option to check account balances, transfer funds, and make payments or validate transactions, among other capabilities.

Mobile banking is an opportunity for banks to offer a value-added service as an incentive for new customer acquisition and customer retention, and promotion of mobile banking services will have a direct impact on consumer adoption of the technology.  Of concern, nearly half (49 percent) of European respondents did not know if their bank offered mobile banking services, and that figure grew to more than half in Asia-Pacific (51 percent) and the Americas (56 percent).  It seems as if financial organizations are missing an opportunity by not promoting mobile banking services in an effective manner, which - given the high levels of interest among non-users - could become a lost opportunity.

Security is often seen as another barrier to the adoption of mobile banking, with 47 percent of respondents in Asia-Pacific and 44 percent in the Americas citing security as a concern.  European consumers show the least concern over the security of mobile banking, with only 25 percent of respondents citing it as a reason for not using mobile banking services.

"Consumer adoption of mobile services is positioned for rapid growth once financial institutions realize the perceived value and hidden demand for these services," said Raj Nathan, CMO, Sybase.  "Banks need to more actively promote mobile banking services by highlighting the benefits to their customers.  As demonstrated in this survey, there are a number of consumers likely to welcome another tool to support their financial fastidiousness in a more immediate and flexible manner than the Internet can afford."