Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mobile Banking Wave Reaches Critical Mass

My good friend Ron Stratman is the marketing director of the California Credit Union.  Being a Mizzou boy born and bred and all the way through, we frequently enjoy a Missouri style BBQ lunch at the Bear Pit, which is in Mission Hills near RPM's offices.

For the past 5 years, Ron has always asked over lunch, always - where are we with mobile banking?  The answer always has been, not there yet, usage is minimal, under 5% penetration, though it's an influential, desirable 5%.

Well buddy, looks like this is The Year.

Nielsen reported at CES 2011 that 31% of all U.S. mobile subscribers now have smartphones, and that may hit as high as 50% by year end.  And this smarphone market is Huge - already, according to Nielsen Mobile Media View study, there are over 83 million people accessing the web from a phone - more households than have HDTV, or digital cable.  IDC reports in their IDC Financial Insights’ United States Consumer Channel Preference Survey that mobile banking usage doubled in 2009 and skews - young, male and upscale.

Young, male, and upscale is exactly where smartphone growth is going.  Today, women talk more (28% more according to Nielsen) and text more - but as sports content begins to take its place alongside movie, TV and videos (and social networking), more and more men are going to pick up smartphones as soon as they discover they are sports information machines, capable of delivering everything from live broadcasts to Albert Pujol's lifetime stats by voice query.

And when sports content hits mobile and intelligent TVs and set top boxes, that 4% of Cord Cutters that have dumped cable TV for broadband only will explode in ways, it was clear at CES, that many traditional players are not ready for.

Today, Nielsen reports that E-Mail (39%) and Social Networking (11%) represent about half of all mobile internet time spent.  News and Current Events, only 7% - add sports, and They Will Come.

And Mobile Banking - which is still a very small niche - will, too.

So Ron, and all you bank marketers out there, it is time to leverage online banking efforts into mobile banking efforts and brace for The Smartphone Explosion as we head for broad, mainstream adoption of the smartphones that will empower mobile banking in 2011.

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