Mobile banking soars, but consumer skepticism lingers, study says

Mobile banking through mobile phones and smartphones is on the rise, increasing 33 percent over the past year. However, consumers remain wary of the security implications.

Mobile banking through mobile phones and smartphones is on the rise, increasing 33 percent over the past year. However, consumers remain wary of the security implications.

This is one of the findings of a new report from the U.S. Federal Reserve Board, which finds increased use of mobile phones to access bank accounts, credit cards, or other financial accounts over the past year. The survey of 2,600 consumers finds that 28 percent of all mobile phone users and 48 percent of smartphone users had used mobile banking in the past 12 months.

This is a significant increase from 21 percent in December 2011 for mobile phone users and 42 percent for smartphone users.

In addition, the study finds a handful of people have made point-of-sale payments with their mobile phones -- six percent of smartphone owners. This is a three-fold increase over last year.

Many consumers remain skeptical of the benefit of mobile banking and the level of security associated with the technology. In fact, more than half of mobile phone owners who do not currently use mobile banking say they have no interest in using this technology.

Consumers are similarly skeptical of the benefits and security of mobile payments, or believe it is simply easier to use another method of payment. Less than one-fourth of all mobile phone owners expressed an interest in using their mobile phones to buy things at the point-of-sale.

The most common mobile banking activities continue to be reviewing account balances, monitoring recent transactions, or transferring money between accounts. Notably, the use of mobile phones to deposit checks has doubled between surveys, with 21 percent of mobile banking users having deposited a check with their phone in the 12 months prior to November 2012.

Mobile phones are also increasingly used to help make decisions while shopping. Among smartphone owners, 42 percent had used their phone to compare prices while shopping and 44 percent had used their phones to browse product reviews in store. Almost two-thirds of those who had used their phone to do price comparisons had changed where they made their purchase based on that information.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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