June 23, 2008

Ten million Americans already are mobile bankers. But that represents just 6 percent of all U.S. cell phone users. Clearly, there is a vast untapped market of potential mobile bankers. Javelin Strategy & Research, however, contends that banks are missing out on a huge opportunity by targeting m-banking services only at online banking users.

According to a recent study by the Pleasanton, Calif.-based research and consulting firm, 11 percent of non-online bankers say they would be likely to adopt mobile banking if they had the opportunity. Among this group, says Mark Schwanhausser, research analyst for Javelin, are young individuals, who traditionally are early adopters, and high-income individuals, particularly the mobile business executive.

Forecast of Availability and Adoption of Mobile Channel for Banking, 2007-2012

"Banks will have to put an investment into [targeting this market] or they'll be left behind," he adds.

Mobile payments, Schwanhausser contends, eventually will provide the return on those investments. "Returns will come from payments," he says.

But, Schwanhausser continues, it's important for banks to build mobile banking relationships now so they can profit from the channel down the road. "There's a huge learning curve for consumers," he explains, pointing out that the Javelin survey revealed that of the 12 percent of all online adults currently banking via mobile phone, just 12 percent reported activity within the past month. "You want to turn it into a habit [now]."

Javelin predicts the mobile channel "will grow rapidly over the next five years." Schwanhausser adds, "The number of banks getting into this channel is growing rapidly."