No one can dispute the upward trend in mobile banking, not just in North America and Europe, but also in Africa — where adoption rates have soared. The success stories are remarkable. Mobile banking’s best feature has proved to be its versatility. It has managed to succeed in a wide-range of places all with differing needs.
In Africa, where branches and ATMs aren’t readily accessible, mobile banking enables people to easily manage their finances. It can take days for customers to reach the nearest branch, time that would usually be spent working. To remedy this loss of productivity, employers formed partnerships with financial institutions (FIs) to help facilitate financial transactions with mobile phones. Now workers only need to visit a nearby mobile money agent, usually an existing store or shop, to receive their paycheck.
FIs win as well, as their customer base is expanded without costly infrastructure investments such as brick-and-mortar locations or additional ATMs. FIs don’t have to spend money training new agents either since agents are reputable, local business owners, who are used to handling money.
In North America and Europe, where branches and ATMs are more abundant, mobile banking serves other needs. Checking one’s balance, online bill-pay and account transfers are more commonly utilized. Mobile check deposit is becoming more popular since it saves a trip to a branch or ATM, and lowers the cost of check processing for the FI. Even if visiting a branch doesn’t mean a multi-day trek, who wants to spend their free time visiting a bank, especially when the same transactions can be accomplished with a mobile phone.
Security remains a concern anywhere in the world when dealing with money. FIs have taken this to task by providing a wide array of security measures such as PIN numbers, SMS authentication codes and individualized security questions – all designed to thwart criminals without sacrificing customer convenience. Even if the unthinkable happens and a handset is stolen or lost, the multi-layered security measures in place at most FIs should provide protection.
The world will never be without hackers, malware and thieves waiting to prey on ambivalent consumers. As long as customers and FIs remain diligent, “stuffing the mattress” will remain a much riskier option than banking, anywhere in the world. Mobile banking provides access for many to FIs, who otherwise would be unbanked. As smart phone and tablet adoption sky-rockets globally, so too will the usage of mobile banking. That is a fact you can bank on.