Mobile phone banking provides people with the ability to view and manage their bank accounts via their mobile phone. Such banking services may be offered through an app (such as an iPhone app) or they may be accessed through the phone’s web browser using mobile stylesheets to optimise the mobile viewing experience. With both of these technical solutions, the aim is to provide another tool to help people manage their finances more conveniently and more successfully.
We are still in the early days of mobile phone banking, so it’s worth pointing out that many banks don’t yet offer a full range of banking functionality via their mobile banking services. However, growth in smartphones and the integral role that mobile phones have in people’s lives means that mobile phone banking is widely tipped to become as big a banking channel as online banking and we should expect the range of functionality to expand as the service matures.
Talking of online banking, the benefits of mobile phone banking are very similar to those that apply for the online channel. However, perhaps the biggest advantage that mobile phone banking holds is its portability. The chances are that you have your mobile phone in your possession pretty much all of the time, whereas you won’t always have immediate access to a desktop computer or laptop.
Here then is a run through of the main benefits of using mobile phone banking:
– Access to your money at any time, from anywhere:
Whether you’re in your office, in your house, on a train, or in the pub, you can log into mobile phone banking to check your balance and transfer funds. And, as with online banking, the service should be available 24 hours, 7 days a week, 365 days per year. It doesn’t close for bank holidays or at 5pm and you don’t have to stand in a queue before getting served.
– You can self serve:
Many people like to be in control of their banking transactions. With mobile phone banking, you get to select which account you are paying money from, who you are paying, and how much you are paying. You are therefore not reliant on bank staff getting your instructions right.
– Text alert updates:
You can usually register to get valuable text alert updates when key activity takes place on your accounts. For example, you might set up alerts to tell you if your balance drops below $100 so that you can avoid going overdrawn. Or you might ask for a regular balance update. Increasingly, we will also see text alerts being used for a range of other things. For example, I imagine there would be interest in an alert that tell you when your online banking session has been accessed as this could help to alert people if fraudsters have gained illegal access to their bank accounts.
– View balances and statement information:
Many banks first dipped their fingers into the arena of mobile banking by offering view-only services, such as the ability to view your bank account balances or to see your mini statement or full statement details.
– Funds transfers between your own accounts:
The ability to transfer funds between your checking/current account and your savings accounts works very well for the mobile banking channel. It’s easy to imagine a situation where someone is out shopping or on holiday and suddenly realizes that they are running low on money in their checking account. A few clicks later, that problem can be solved with their mobile phone being used to transfer money across from their savings account.
– Third party payments:
The other main piece of functionality that banking customers often state they would like to do via mobile phone banking is to make external payments. This might be a payment to another person or it may be a payment to a company, or even a payment of money between accounts that you hold with two separate banks. This functionality is taken for granted with online banking services and it won’t be long before the same can be said for mobile phone banking.
– Mobile phone top-ups:
Some banks enable people to top up their mobile phones, via a money transfer from their bank account that is facilitated via the mobile phone banking service.
– Find your nearest bank branch or ATM
A clever feature of mobile phones is that they can be used to pinpoint where you are at any given point. This means that banks can offer branch and ATM locator services that automatically will show you your closest branch or cash machine.
The range of services that will be offered via mobile phone banking will definitely grow considerably over the next few years. This will be driven by customer demand, particularly as more people upgrade to smartphones that are effectively mini computers. However, the core benefits of mobile phone banking are likely to remain the same, namely the fact that it provides people with constant and immediate access to their banking accounts and a greater level of control over their finances. We can also expect, however, that it will be just one of several ways that people will interact with their bank and face-to-face contact may still be preferred for more complicated banking transactions such as taking out a mortgage.