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As mobile banking adoption grows, banks must focus on services: Forrester

Mobile banking is gaining traction in the United States with gains in consumer adoption and availability of mobile banking solutions across a wide array of devices, according to Forrester Research.

A concurrent report on the return on investment of mobile banking, 47 percent of financial eBusiness managers said they don?t know how to measure the ROI of mobile, making this the most widely cited concern with mobile banking.

?Both reports make it clear that, with adoption growing at a steady clip, banks must now focus on supporting mobile bankers and increasing the value of their mobile initiatives,? said Peter Wannemacher, one of the authors on both reports.

The State of US Mobile Banking 2011 report from Cambridge, MA-based Forrester Research indicates that adoption of mobile banking among U.S. online adults have more than doubled in the past two year to reach 16 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010. Forrester also predicts that mobile banking will grow by an average of 20 percent per year over the next five years to reach 50 million U.S. adults by 2015.

The growth is being driven by smartphone adoption as well as by banks efforts to support a wide variety of mobile device platforms.

Informational use dominates
Consumers use mobile banking mostly for informational purposes, with more than 70 percent checking their account balances and 33 percent viewing transactions of account statements. However, are also using mobile banking for other purposes, such as transferring money between their own accounts (30 percent) and paying bills (27 percent).

In order to move clients toward more transaction-based mobile banking, banks can take steps such as focusing on likely adopters and tying mobile transactions to relevant account information, per Mr. Wannemacher.

?When we ask banking customers about their use ? and their perceived value ? of different banking activities, basic information-based features always top the list,? he said.

?The said, functionality such as mobile remote deposit capture will demonstrate the unique value of mobile banking beyond checking account balances.

?Additionally, new mobile features like two-way alerts will be another way to increase transactional activities via the channel.?

Despite the concern over ROI, banks are still venturing into mobile banking because they customers are demanding it. Forrester ?The ROI of Mobile Banking? report shows that 22 percent of U.S. online adults say it is either ?important? or ?very important? that their bank offer access to their accounts through a mobile device.

?Even if the business case for mobile banking isn?t immediately overwhelming, eBusiness managers and channel strategists at banks simply can?t afford to ignore mobile,? Mr. Wannemacher said.

Forrester also expects that increased use of services such as mobile remote deposit will enhance the ROI of mobile banking.

?The introduction of mobile remote deposit capture is a milestone for mobile banking in that it provides a feature that was not commonly available through online banking and is optimized for delivery through mobile devices,? Mr. Wannemacher said.

The most important implication of the two reports is the need for banks to change their internal thinking around the mobile channel.

?Mobile banking should not simply be an add-on to a bank?s eBusiness strategy, and mobile strategies must articulate the objectives and the business case for any initiative,? Mr. Wannemacher said.
?Going forward, banks will need to plan for they want to achieve via the mobile channel, and how they can offer clients mobile services that meet their needs.?

Final Take