The iPhone Is A Game-Changer For Mobile Banking

Brad_strothkamp [Posted by Brad Strothkamp}

One job of an analyst is the separate the hype from the facts. We here at Forrester are fortunate enough to have access to customer survey information that allows us to do just that.

For the last 18 months, the hottest thing on the planet has been mobile banking. Forrester has fielded dozens and dozens of questions from clients wondering about mobile banking strategy to the point that you'd think every consumer on the planet was clamoring to bank on their mobile device.

But our surveys continue to tell us something different (at least for now). In our most recent survey from Q1 2009, 10% of US consumers with a mobile phone have signed up for moblie banking. And among those who have not banked using a mobile phone, the number interested remains low.

In my view, two things are going to change that. 1) the day consumers can do something banking wise on their mobile phone that they cannot do (or do easily) on their PC  2) the day when it is just frankly easier to bank on the phone itself.

I am here to say, both days are coming.

1) USAA just announced that they will be the second financial services firm to offer the ability to make a deposit by mobile device. Very soon, USAA members will be able to take a picture of the front and back of their checks and deposit them instantly. This is truly a breakthrough for mobile banking because it allows consumers to do something via their phone they cannot easily do on their PC.  Secondly, it will eliminate (read cost savings) the need to deposit checks by mail, in a branch, or by ATM in many cases so banks will want to push the service.

2) CNet reported in May that the Apple iPhone doubled in market share in the last year from 5.3% the smart phone market to 10.8%. What is significantabout that is that Bank of America reported in June that the iPhone and iPod touch make up 40% of the 2.7 million devices used by bank customers. Bottom line, deviceslike the iPhone, iPod touch, and similar smart phone devices are a key link in getting more consumers to bank by mobile phone. As the market for those devices grow, so will the mobile banking market.

Now I will openly admit to this point I have been a mobile pessimist primarily because there was not customer data to support the hype or reason to believe usage would dramatically change, but I am here to say today that I am now moderately optimistic. Stay tuned.