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Do you track your checking account with your cell phone? Most consumers remain wary.

September 07, 2010

By Barbara Marquand | Money Rates Columnist

Although a growing number of consumers are taking advantage of mobile banking, most have yet to use their cell phones or PDAs to manage their checking or savings accounts.

The two biggest reasons, says an August report by Javelin Strategy & Research in San Francisco, are concerns about security and a "lack of a compelling value proposition." In other words, many question, what's the point?

Javelin, which says 19 of the 30 largest U.S. financial institutions now offer mobile banking, rates USAA Federal Savings Bank "best in class" for the second year in a row. Other banks with the most robust mobile banking offerings are Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citibank and Wells Fargo, all of which provide multiple modes for mobile banking, including text banking, access to websites created for mobile banking and smart phone applications.

Opening a checking account, transferring money and making deposits with a smart phone

Still, banks are missing opportunities. Just over one-third of top financial institutions have Android-based applications, compared to 80 percent that have iPhone apps, even though Android owners now outnumber iPhone users and half of them are mobile bankers, the research firm says. Additionally, other opportunities to increase functionality lie ahead, according to Javelin, including adding money movement, remote deposit and account opening capabilities to mobile banking.

Meanwhile, results of a recent survey by KPMG LLP, an audit, tax and advisory firm, show that almost one in five U.S. consumers has conducted a banking transaction on a mobile device, compared to only 9 percent when KPMG completed the survey 18 months earlier.

Young people ages 16 to 24 are the most likely users, with a third reporting they had banked on a mobile device. Among U.S. respondents who had never banked via cell phone, roughly half cited security and privacy as the primary reasons.

Those who said their were comfortable with mobile banking grew to 16 percent, up 6 percent from the last survey. Those who weren't comfortable dropped to 55 percent, an 11 percent decline, according to KPMG.

Still, U.S. consumers are behind much of the world when it comes to mobile banking. KPMG says in the new survey that about one-third of consumers globally say they are comfortable making financial transactions such as accessing their checking account on a mobile device.

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