Mobile banking has been declared the “future of banking” more than once over the past few years. Frequent appreciation of mobile banking’s potential to make personal finance more convenient has accompanied its evolution from initial text-based banking services to the sleek apps that exist today. In recent years, evidence has accumulated that supports these notions and points to increased adoption among mobile phone owners. An August Pew Research report showed that, as of July 2013, 35% of cell phone owners were using mobile banking, an increase of 17% from the same period in 2011. Rising usage, especially amongst specific demographics, such as Latino mobile users in the US, is putting pressure on banks to reevaluate their traditional practices and look for innovative ways to serve their customers.
Overview of Mobile Services
Mobile users have three options when it comes to mobile banking: they can access through text message, mobile web browser or a downloadable mobile application (usually for iPhone or Android). Mobile text options are usually more limited than those offered through mobile web browser or mobile application.
The earliest mobile banking was conducted through text-message, an option that is still available at many banks today and has significantly improved with the advent of smartphones and larger, clearer screens. As technology progressed, more advanced mobile banking services appeared, which offered the ability to check account balances, transfer funds and locate nearby branches or ATMs through secure mobile websites and smartphone applications. These services are still the most commonly used. A 2013 Federal Reserve study showed that 87% of mobile phone owners used mobile banking to check their account balance and 53% used it to transfer money between accounts.
F & M Bank’s MobileNOW! Banking service allows you to complete transfers between accounts, check balances, monitor account activity and locate nearby ATMs or branches. You can do this by text, mobile browser or mobile app (for iPhone and Android), and F & M promises top-notch security with mobile banking, backed up by authentication, encryption, fraud detection and other protective measures.
Mobile Bill Pay
The ability to pay bills on your mobile phone is a more recent innovation in mobile banking and has quickly become a popular service. The 2013 Federal Reserve survey showed that 27% of mobile banking users paid a bill through their bank’s website or app on their phone.
1st Community Bank’s Mobile 1st app (for iPhone and Android) touts mobile bill pay options, as well as the ability to perform transactions, transfer between accounts, check account balances and review transaction history.
Howard Bank’s Mobiliti Mobile Banking provides a mobile bill pay option, in addition to other mobile banking services. You can view account balances and recent transactions, and make transfers between accounts. Mobile banking options are available through web browser, iPhone and Android apps, and mobile text.
Mobile Check Deposit
Mobile check deposit offers mobile phone users the opportunity to scan and upload checks using the camera on their smartphone. Usage grew 10% to 21% in 2013, according to the Federal Reserve survey.
Texas Bank and Trust just recently augmented their TBTgomobile services with the addition of their SMARTDeposit mobile check deposit feature. Now you can use mobile banking to upload checks, as well as track account balances, transfer funds, pay bills and view account alerts. Mobile service is available for all smartphones and through apps for iPhone, iPad, and Android phone and tablet.
Machias Savings Bank provides mobile access through mobile text, mobile web browser and mobile app (iPhone and Android), and has plans to roll out an iPad app. And crucially, for many mobile banking users, the bank also offers mobile check deposit through their iPhone and Android apps. Mobile banking through a web browser allows you to check balances, view transactions and pay bills, but does not offer mobile deposit.
Broadway Bank listened to customer feedback and has launched a new mobile app (for iPhone and Android) with the additional benefit of mobile check deposit for qualified customers. The app also allows you to transfer between accounts, check account balances, review transactions, pay bills and contact a bank representative through secure messages.
Person-to-Person Payment Services
Person-to-Person (P2P) payment services are not new to the financial landscape, but they have only recently picked up steam in the world of mobile banking. P2P mobile payments are an easy and convenient way to send and receive money quickly from your mobile phone. Some banks have spotted the trend and have added access to P2P mobile payment services to their mobile banking services.
Reliance Bank gives you access to personal payment service Popmoney, in addition to their other mobile banking options, like viewing account balances, transferring funds and paying bills through a web browser or mobile app.
CCB Community Bank also offers you access to Popmoney as part of their mobile banking services. Other options include the ability to review transactions, check balances and transfer funds through their mobile app. Mobile access through a web browser and mobile text services are also available.
Herrin Security Bank provides you with access to Popmoney, too. Their Mobile Money app allows you to view account balances, review transaction history, transfer funds and pay bills. Mobile text options are also available.
Following the Trend
These banks have heeded the call of mobile customers and are working to provide them with up-to-date mobile banking options. As mobile banking users’ needs change and multiply, banks will need to follow the lead of those featured here and adapt along with them.
Digital tablet PC with blank screen image courtesy of Shutterstock.