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TheStreet Open House

Consumers Ready for Mobile Banking, but Banks Aren't

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- It's no secret that financial consumers are warming up to mobile banking, largely for reasons of convenience.

According to Juniper Research's report, Mobile Banking: Handset & Tablet Market Strategies 2013-2017, more than $1 billion cellphone owners will use their devices for banking purposes by 2017, up from 590 million this year.

To provide some context, total world population growth by 2017 is 7.6 billion.

Yet a separate study from Javelin notes that consumers are growing increasingly frustrated by their mobile banking experiences. As a result, many consumers will leave banks and turn to outside sources, mostly technology outfits.

"Trust in financial institutions is under assault by a seemingly endless list of players, including Apple (AAPL), Google (GOOG), mobile carriers and scores of innovative personal financial management players," the report says. "Because so many new players are fighting financial institutions for market share by offering competitive consumer‐friendly services, like personal financial management and alerts, FIs must act quickly to demonstrate they understand their customer and put their financial interests first."

That's not happening fast enough for many consumers.

A survey from Varolii, a Seattle technology management firm, says there is a big gap between what financial customers want from mobile banking from large financial and what they're getting.

Varolii says if consumers don't get "advanced" functions such as automatic check deposit and real-time notifications, they risk losing the trust -- and possibly the business -- of customers.

"There's an app for everything in today's mobile-driven consumer environment," says Brian Moore, financial services market manager for Varolii. "As the economy has suffered over the past few years, consumers are turning to apps for financial management as well. However, our study shows that most banks are failing to deliver on consumer expectations with first- or second-generation mobile banking applications."

The Varolii survey says that about 66% of banking consumers expect the bank to notify them when funds are running low or if they don't have enough cash to cover a bill or payment. Another 70% say there "should be an app for that" -- and it's the bank's responsibility to create one that fits a financial consumer's needs.

About half (47%) of survey respondents say banks should notify them of banking issues via email, while 22% favor texts and 13% prefer getting notices via a smartphone app.

For consumers, it's all about banks keeping up with technology -- or better yet, staying ahead of the game.

"We believe that most institutions are operating on second-generation applications," notes David McCann, CEO at Varolii. "Today, institutions need to upgrade to the next level by embedding more proactive, rules-based outreach into their application code. Also, smartphone apps are just one more channel that has to be orchestrated into a holistic customer experience across voice, text, email and mobile devices."

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