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Mobile banking in America creates a big debate

CNBC in the USA
ran a report at the end of June on mobile banking.  The report is
interesting as 2007 is definitely the year of the mobile phone, or
cellphone if you’re American, with Bank of America, Citibank, Wachovia,
Washington Mutual, Wells Fargo, and ING Direct all launching mobile
bank services.  The mobile service allows folks to transfer funds,
check balances, make bill payments, and look up branch locations.

There’s
nothing too radical there although it intrigues me that the US banks,
which are meant to be behind on mobile banking, are actually launching
these services ahead of some European banks.  For example, put the
search "Mobile" into Natwest’s website and what comes back?  The Mobile Banking Service … a bus that goes around Wales, Cumbria, Devon and Cornwall with a teller inside.  Whoopee-doo.

Nevertheless, the really interesting outcome of CNBC’s news report is this conversation at Slashdot, where US consumers leave their reactions to the wonderful news that they’re going to get mobile bank services.

Here’s a selection of a few of the comments:

"I can see the appeal of something like this if it’s handled well and securely." Mobile Tatsu

"I think it’s a smarter way." FBJon

"Did any of these banks actually do any analysis of the security of cell phone  data?" Whuffo

"When is the last time that a major company put security ahead of profits?" Ushering

"USA is a backwater for mobile technologies…" Anonymous Coward

"This
isn’t anything new. It’s just being passed as news as the big banks now
realize that enough of their market base is technologically adept and
accepting of having this kind of banking access available."  Radon360

"My phone is not an ATM, why are they trying to make it like one?" Eggman

"Does this mean that I can recharge my bank account by plugging my phone into a  wall outlet." Dsgrntlxmply

"Sweet, now I can see how little money I have no matter where I am!" Botkiller

and many more with probably my favourite being KakofB’s, "It’s all about being a space cyborg from the future." 

There’s
also a long list of non-US entries about how great mobile phone
services are in Denmark, Finland, India, South Africa, Brazil,
Argentina and even Belgium :-), although the most interesting comment
maybe comes from JSHurst:

"I’m a developer for one of the larger
US banks and am currently in the pilot for the mobile personal banking
rollout … this is actually my employer’s second rollout of personal
mobile banking. They were the first major bank to offer mobile services
(over a decade ago) but canceled the program because of lack of
interest. Perhaps features looming on the horizon like ‘contact-less
payments’ will draw more attention, but the response amongst most my
coworkers on the pilot has been pretty ho-hum: kind of neat, but I
don’t think I’d use it very often."

This comment begs the question as to whether we’re developing technology for our own sakes or our customers or our competitors? 

My
own view is that banks need to roll-out mobile banking services as
mobile telephony is now ubiquitous and pervasive.  Soon, my mobile will
be as powerful if not more so than my laptop. 

So, if you think
you can ignore mobile banking, then you might as well ignore the
internet as the two today are pretty much one and the same.

 

About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, the Finanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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