M-banking subscriber doubling every year


New forecasts from ABI Research indicate that in 2015 about 244 million people worldwide will carry out financial transactions with their banks using their mobile phones. Of those, some 66 million will be in North America.

According to senior analyst Mark Beccue, however, ‘It’s not the North American market that is moving fastest to mobile banking: that crown goes to the Asia-Pacific region, which accounted for the lion’s share of the world’s 30 million mobile banking subscribers in 2009. The global number of subscribers more than doubled between 2008 and 2009, and is expected to almost double again in 2010. This growth can be seen everywhere, but Asia – led by India – is pushing it particularly hard.’

Growth of this market in Europe and North America has been somewhat limited so far because – in contrast to banks elsewhere – the financial institutions in those areas offered mobile banking primarily to existing users of their online banking services.

Wide access to computers and easy access to physical bank branches lessened consumers’ motivation to adopt the mobile banking model. However Wells Fargo – long a pioneer in electronic banking in the US – recently lifted that restriction, and also launched text-based mobile banking, which greatly expands the number of mobile devices that can access such services.

Moves of that kind will mean, speculates Beccue, a new wave of mobile banking growth outside Asia: ‘North America and Europe are still a long way from what anyone would call a ‘mass market’ uptake of mobile banking, but those regions offer the best long-term conditions for that to occur.’