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Fed On Mobile Banking: Use Is Up, Confidence In Security Down
WASHINGTON (3/29/13)--The Credit Union National Association's Payments Subcommittee will review the Federal Reserve Board's  new mobile financial services survey results, which note significant increases in how consumers use mobile phones and smartphones for banking and payments.

The Fed released the report, "Consumers and Mobile Financial Services 2013," on Wednesday.  Among its key findings: In the past 12 months, more consumers used mobile phones to access banking and credit card accounts or make financial decisions while shopping. Mobile use spiked among the underbanked and unbanked. However, consumers had less confidence in the security of the devices than in 2011.

"CUNA's Payments Subcommittee is increasing its focus on efforts to ensure credit unions have the access they need to the latest developments in payments," said CUNA Deputy General Counsel Mary Dunn.

As of November, 28% of all mobile phone users and 48% of smartphone users had employed mobile banking in the previous 12 months--a significant hike from 21% and 42%, respectively, in December 2011, said the Fed.  Consumers who paid point-of-sale purchases with their mobile phone increased threefold, with 6% of smartphone users making the purchases.

Mobile financial services are particularly prevalent among the underbanked--those who have banking accounts but also use check cashers, payday lenders or payroll cards and who make up 10% of the population. Ninety percent of this group had mobile phones, and among them, 49% used mobile banking during the period, up from 29% in 2011.

The 10% of the population without a bank account also is using the mobile devices, with 59% of the unbanked having a mobile phone. Half of those are smartphones, said the Fed.

Although mobile banking use rose 33% between 2011 and 2012, more than half of mobile phone owners who don't use mobile banking services remained skeptical about the benefit of mobile banking and its level of security. They said they have no interest in it or believe another method of payment was easier. Making purchases via mobile phone at the point-of-sale drew less interest--under one-fourth expressed interest.

Credit unions will want to make sure their mobile banking has at least these features--they're the most common activities cited by consumers surveyed: Reviewing account balances, monitoring recent transactions, or transferring money between accounts.

They also will want to check out remote deposits: Using mobile phones to deposit checks doubled, with 21% of mobile banking users doing so during the period studied.

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