Report: Mobile Banking Starting To Catch On


A new comScore report today about credit card use shows people are increasingly turning to their mobile devices to access accounts and complete transactions. One in five cardholders who also own a mobile phone said they've used their device to manage their accounts over the past 12 months. Specifically, 16% accessed their issuer's site via a mobile browser, 13% through an app, and 13% through mobile text alerts.

That compares to 51% who used a landline phone to go to their account and 74% that went online to do so. The Internet is also the primary way 59% of cardholders with a mobile phone accessed their account. By contrast, the mobile browser was the primary method for only 4% of those surveyed. Considering mobile banking is just starting to become more mainstream, that's not surprising.

Last month, comScore reported the number of people accessing financial accounts more broadly (bank, credit card, or brokerage) increased 54%, to almost 30 million by the end of 2010. Banks and card issuers have been moving to capitalize on the growth of mobile banking through a variety of initiatives. American Express, for instance, last month rolled out its PayPal-like Serve offering that lets cardholders make person-to-person payments, withdrawals and purchases via phone or PC. The card is funded by a user's bank account or debit or credit card.

American Express also took a stake in mobile payments provider Payfone, which raised $19 million this month from investors that also included Verizon Investments and Rogers Ventures. As part of the deal, AmEx will incorporate Payfone's technology into Serve.

Visa late last year introduced a mobile contactless payment system for bank partners as well as an iPhone app that lets users get deals and discounts from participating merchants nearby. MasterCard and Citigroup are working with Google to embed Near-Field Communication (NFC) chips in Android devices to enable purchases by waving phones in front of compatible readers at checkout.

Payment giants like Visa and MasterCard are also being pushed by the carrier-based venture dubbed Isis, in which Verizon Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile USA plan to create a nationwide m-commerce network. The project will roll out a pilot program in Salt Lake City by mid-2012. But it could still be years before NFC-based mobile payments catch on widely.

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