February 28, 2013

Despite being around for several years now, mobile banking still has yet to earn the kind of trust that consumers put in online banking and ATM’s, new research from BT Global Services, an IT consulting and outsourcing firm, suggests. The firm released the results of a recent global survey of 1,000 consumers today, and the findings show that consumers still trust ATM’s, self-service kiosks and online banking far more than they trust mobile banking services. Among the U.S. consumers questioned in the survey only 13% said that they would trust mobile banking more than they would these other technologies, although that percentage was higher than in some European countries like Germany (5%) and Britain (10%).

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“Banks must be careful not to lose sight of the need for human contact in either the branch or via a local call center agent. Our research shows that these continue to be customers’ most trusted and preferred channels,” Tom Regent, BT Global Service’s president of global banking and financial markets, said in a statement the company released concerning the survey results.

U.S. consumers still consider the local branch an integral part of their banking experience, the research suggests. Half of the U.S. respondents said that having a local branch in a convenient location is the most important factor for them when switching to a new bank. The next most important factors in changing banks were the availability of 24/7 banking services and quality online bankign services.

The survey also found that U.S. consumers are far less intrigued by the idea of interacting with their bank through social media than consumers in other countries. Only 17% of U.S. consumers in the survey said they want their bank to interact with them through social media, while 39% of the respondents in Hong Kong and 37% of those in Spain were interested in the idea, according to BT Global’s statement.

Although consumers are still hesitant about mobile banking, they are even more cautious about new alternative payments providers, meaning that banks still have an advantage in consumer trust over these new providers. Less than 10 percent of consumers had tried an alternative payments service like Bitcoins or virtual wallets in most of the countries involved in the poll, the statement said. Among U.S. consumers in the study 62% predicted that they definitely would not use an alternative payments service in the next 18 months.

Jonathan Camhi is a graduate of the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism, where he focused on international reporting and interned at the Hindustan Times in Delhi, ...