The idea of being able to move funds, pay bills or check your overdraft online is pretty much established now and many of us use online banking. The BlackBerry almost seems tailor made to do tasks like mobile banking, but it seems translating that willingness to work with your accounts online to the mobile platform is proving difficult.
According to Tower Group analyst, Bob Egan, only 400,000 consumers now use mobile banking out of a population on 240 million mobile phone users in the US. While the potential for growth is obvious, there are some serious hurdles to overcome. Egan, speaking at a financial services conference in Boston on Thursday, believes that serious growth will only occur when banks begin to work with mobile carriers to make services attractive to BlackBerry and other mobile device users.
Typically, US Banks have encouraged their customers to access an internet banking application, while a few encourage downloading an application. Whichever method they employ, it is the customer who must pay for data and time usage. Egan urged banks to partner with mobile carriers to spur mobile banking growth. Without cooperation, growth of mobile banking could be stifled, he said.
Market conditions alone do not favor much cooperation, since there are more than 18,000 banks in North America with only six mobile carriers, compared to 7,000 banks and 147 mobile operators in Europe.
Not everything is so bleak in the nexus of finance and mobile technology. Other financial applications are going strong. Fidelity Investments' Fidelity Anywhere program is one such program and one 1 million wireless users can access investment accounts from wireless devices, and can even set triggers for when to buy or sell stock.
Meanwhile, some banks are making a concerted effort to catch up and get on the mobile bandwagon. Bank of America Corp launched mobile banking for its 21 million online banking customers, in March, Now customers to use their BlackBerrys and other smart phones to check account balances, pay bills and transfer funds. The service was made possible over four major wireless carriers in the US.