Mobile banking zooms ahead

THE number of Australians using mobile phone banking has exceeded six million, and the take-up is surpassing that of internet banking.

THE number of Australians using mobile phone banking has exceeded six million, and the take-up is surpassing that of internet banking.

While it took almost four years for the number of internet banking customers to reach six million, the number of mobile banking customers reached this figure in a little more than three years, new data from the financial services consultancy the Market Intelligence Strategy Centre show.

The findings follow Australian Communications and Media Authority data showing that almost half of Australia’s adult population owns a smartphone: 8.7 million people used a smartphone in the past year.

All the major banks, including Commonwealth Bank and ANZ, have upgraded their in-house android applications, the technology used by fast-selling smartphone brands such as Samsung. All the big banks have apps for Apple smartphones but only some have apps for Windows smartphones.

Mobile phone banking has led to a huge rise in demand for basic transaction services.

Mobile technology is also changing how banks sell their products and services to customers, and making them reconsider how best to use their vast and expensive branch networks.

Westpac has outlined plans to spend $240 million overhauling its branch network in response to fast-paced technological change. Branches are increasingly used for advisory services rather than transactions, and the overhaul will most likely mean job losses and smaller branch offices.

The head of Westpac’s retail and business banking, Jason Yetton, said mobile phone banking “has completely altered the way our customers bank with us”.

In its report last week, the Market Intelligence Strategy Centre said the already high use of internet banking, faster mobile broadband speeds and the uptake of smartphones had helped to accelerate the rate of mobile phone banking.

“While it previously took internet banking some 15 quarters to pass the six million users’ level, mobile banking has taken 13 quarters to achieve the same milestone,” it says.

Other innovations, such as the spread of remote merchant payments and real-time deposits, will help increase the uptake of mobile phone banking.

Commonwealth Bank, which has more than two million mobile phone banking customers, last year launched its Kaching mobile banking app, which allows users to transfer funds between themselves, without even the need for bank account details.

A recent study by CBA found that mobile banking use peaked at lunchtime and early evening.