November 29, 2010

In the developing world, those with cell phones outnumber those with bank accounts. And, as The New York Times reports, global usage of mobile-based banking is on the rise domestically, as well.

About 10 percent of U.S. bank consumers use mobile banking, usually to transfer money, make payments or monitor bank accounts, said Teresa A. Epperson, a partner at Mercatus, a Boston company that advises banks and financial institutions. As more U.S. consumers buy smartphones, mobile banking’s market penetration is expected to exceed online banking’s, which currently is about 50 percent, by 2015, Ms. Epperson said.

The Times cited aBerg Insight prediction that mobile banking will grow globally from 55 million users in 2009 to 894 million by 2014.

With the seemingly daily unveiling of new mobile hardware, the enthusiasm shown by many mobile payment providers and with banks' rush to deploy sophisticated mobile banking services on smartphones and featurephones alike, it would seem the tipping point for widespread mobile payment adoption in America is the consumer. As BS&T reports today, PayPal saw a 310 percent increase in mobile payments on Nov. 26, or Black Friday in the retail world. If post-Thanksgiving shopping is an indicator of consumer behavior, then perhaps PayPal and its 16.5 percent share of U.S. eCommerce is a bellwether for trends in mobile payments.