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Consumers Open To More Mobile Banking Services

David Murphy

The smartphone generation is already engaging with mobile banking services and is receptive to apps, mobile internet sites and text messages, but is eager for banks to be more proactive in providing services to help them keep control of their finances, according to new research from mobile marketing firm Sponge.

The company surveyed 450 consumers via the mobile internet in August, and found that 44 per cent used the mobile internet, apps or text messaging to interact with their bank, with more than one in four saying they do so frequently.

Of those who didn’t bank via their mobile phone (56 per cent), two thirds said they would be significantly more likely to use such services if they owned a smartphone.

Although the majority of respondents associated mobile banking with standard features such as checking their balance, almost half (49 per cent) rated this as the most useful function.

The Sponge research also revealed a clear appetite for more proactive services. Specific areas of interest included a text-based customer service facility (48 per cent), a mobile service that prompts customers to move funds around in order to maximise their rate of return (17 per cent) and a location-based service offering consumers discounts or other rewards from retailers when they use their bank card (26 per cent).

“There seems to be a definite opportunity for more proactive services to drive positive brand differentiation between banks,” says Sponge chairman and co-founder, Alex Meisl. “Despite substantial advertising investment, no bank has yet succeeded in laying claim to this territory. The basic mobile solutions banks are currently focused on are perfectly valid and useful in their own right, but the smartphone generation has different expectations, and the bank that moves most aggressively to meet them has the chance to re-frame and personalise its relationship with its customers.”

The research also found that, despite the growing adoption of mobile services, there appears to be a lack of distinction between different banks’ offerings. When asked whether other banks were more advanced than their own in terms of the services they offered via mobile, 70 per cent of respondents either “didn’t know” or ranked them “about the same”.

While there are some lingering concerns about safety and security around mobile banking (32 per cent cited this as the greatest barrier), neither price nor privacy appeared as major issues. Less than 5 per cent felt that “mobile banking would be expensive”, while less than 8 per cent were concerned about their bank “invading their private space”.

Mobile media consumption in general is occurring across an increasingly broad range of sites and services. 73 per cent of the sample claimed to visit more than 10 mobile internet sites each month, and 45 per cent said they visited more than 20. 30 per cent used between four and 10 mobile apps each month, with a further 24 per cent using more than 10.