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Mobile Banking to Increase Five-Fold Over the Next Five Years
A Forrester forecast indicates one in five American consumers will be using online banking by 2015.
Posted Feb 14, 2011
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Rapid consumer adoption of smartphones and increased use of the mobile Web will result in more customers using online banking to check balances, review transactions, or receive alerts, according to the latest Forrester research.

Emmett Higdon, senior analyst at Forrester and author of the report, proposes banks should consider this trend now to create a more robust, sophisticated execution of online banking.

Higdon chronicles the smartphone adoption through five major factors: enthusiastic smartphone adoption, greater mobile Web use, steady increase in supply, enhanced mobile usability, and generational shifts.

“Gen X adults (ages 31 to 44) today make up 39 percent of U.S. mobile bankers —the most of any generation,” Higdon writes. “When combined with Gen Y users, the two account for more than three-quarters of all current mobile banking users. By 2015, Gen Y will surpass Gen X and will make up 44 percent of U.S. mobile bankers. These two groups represent the present and the future of mobile banking.”

The current growth of online banking is not sustainable without new targets, such as offline customers, multichannel users, and online banking accounts, according to Higdon, who also points to a major flaw in how online banking is currently promoted. Most programs seek out active online adults, yet more adults currently own a cell phone than have access to the Internet or a PC. Higdon describes this segment of the population as a “fertile target market” that banks have already begun to court.

The report also reveals that 30 percent of online adults bank online via more than one channel each month. Twenty-seven percent of mobile banking users began using online banking shortly after signing up for mobile banking.

Higdon points out that online banking has slowed recently, with many U.S. midsize banks having less than half of their deposit base using online banking.  The value of online banking remains hindered by content and usability problems, such as duplicate functionality, poor user experience, and device fragmentation, he asserts.

“Many U.S. banks rushed their initial mobile banking service to market, justifying the effort as necessary to maintain competitive parity,” Higdon writes. “While channel managers may be forgiven for yielding to an all-too-common refrain from senior management, ‘We need an iPhone app,’ customers have often been underwhelmed with the results. Poor integration with common native features and navigation as well as customer satisfaction that trails even automated phone systems have left millions of mobile banking users wondering what all the fuss is about.”


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