IDC has released a new report, 2009 Consumer Mobile Banking Preferences Survey Results – Waiting for Takeoff, that reveals that mobile banking has seen an increase in usage and in institutions offering the service in the last year. In fact, reported mobile banking usage has almost doubled since last year’s survey.

However, according to the survey, while mobile banking may have finally turned the corner with customer acceptance, it is not a mainstream channel and in order to be successful, financial institutions need to be strategic about their mobile offerings.

In addition, realistic expectations, an understanding that there are few to no revenue opportunities around mobile currently, and the backing of senior management, are all key to mobile success.

According to the report, the challenge with mobile banking continues to be that it introduces a new cost structure without providing opportunities for revenue. Consumers have become accustomed to having more for free, and the convenience of mobile banking so far does not appear to be something that people are willing to pay for.

However, enhancements to mobile platforms – including the addition of adding deposit capture and payment solutions – will provide more opportunities for financial institutions to potentially gain some revenue opportunities.

IDC recommends that financial institutions begin expanding what they offer, marketing these offerings as easier to use, and providing more opportunities around payments and fund movement. Financial institutions that can capitalize on this will be better positioned to both obtain and retain customers.

Key findings include:
• Usage was up across all channels, requiring bankers to manage more transactions across an ever-expanding portfolio of delivery options.
• The financial services industry should leverage its branch network to compete against potential nontraditional entrants that lack the brick-and-mortar infrastructure.
• SMS is the most popular form of mobile banking.
• Customized alerts and payments outside of network are gaining in popularity, while check image view and getting rate information on the mobile device appear to be fading.
• Demographics for mobile banking customers were skewed toward a younger male audience, but all demographics are showing usage.

"Consumers are transaction and information happy, and the branch continues to be as popular as ever," said Marc DeCastro, Research Manager, Consumer Banking and Credit, IDC Financial Insights.

"The financial services industry recognizes the importance and advantage it has with its brick-and-mortar branch networks, evidenced by continued branch investment. Our survey, however, shows that consumers are getting more and more comfortable opening accounts outside of the branch. While many financial institutions have jumped into the mobile banking space and are offering solutions, some are still pondering their entrance. Those that have already installed a solution may also be looking at modifications or enhancements to their first-generation rollouts."

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