Mobile banking takes off

The popularity of the iPhone is changing the face of mobile banking.
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01.Mobile banking takes off

Apple iPhone
The latest Nielsen research predicts smartphone mobile banking will take off over the next year, in line with the growing popularity of the iPhone and increasing number of finance apps. Banking and bill paying are already the second and third most popular internet activities (after email) used by over 70% of online Australians, so it’s inevitable that the convenience of paying via mobile phone will eventually reflect those trends.
Internet smartphones are nothing new - two out of three mobile phones could access online banking before the iPhone arrived. But few people bothered to use them for this purpose. Perhaps it was the small screens, data download fees or the fact the online functions were simply too hard to use. Whatever the reason, banking was much easier on a laptop or desktop computer.

The iPhone is changing all that. While Nokia still dominates the smartphone landscape, commanding 35 per cent market share, iPhone has doubled its market share in 12 months to 28%. Nielsen found that 61% of online consumers who use a mobile phone will consider an iPhone in the next year. NAB says its web banking users accessing their account from an iPhone grew from none to 20% in just two years. All the big banks have launched iPhone apps. ATM locators, for example, enable consumers to quickly locate their nearest ATM and avoid another bank’s withdrawal fees, using the same technology as car GPS.
And many banks are now tailoring their websites for smartphone use. “[Smartphone] banking has been stripped back to basics,” says Charis Palmer, Editor of Online Banking Review. “It’s not the same as the internet banking experience. Not all the same functionality is available – for example, a lot of banks don’t let customers set up a new payee via smartphone banking because of security issues.”

Top finance apps

The most popular free finance apps downloaded by Australian consumers through Apple iTunes include:

• Commbank mobile banking
• Westpac Mobile Banking
• Paypal
• Bloomberg
• St George Banking Application
• ANZ ATM locator
• Expense tracker
• HomeBudget Lite
• rediATM Finder

Paid finance applications that you can download are available, too, usually priced at between $1 and $10. They include software tools to keep track of receipts, to calculate real estate agent commissions, to monitor an investment portfolio and financial calculators.


When using your smartphone, apply the same vigilance as with internet banking and follow the security tips provided by your financial institution. For example, only download applications from reputable and legitimate sources, don’t store your banking password on your phone, lock your handset when it’s not in use, and don’t click on website links in emails that ask you to update your banking details as they’re almost certainly fraudulent. Bona fide banks never send such emails.

Things to come

The developments in mobile banking won’t be restricted to iPhones, or indeed smartphones as a category. Other phone manufacturers are launching touchscreen handsets and Google Android will soon compete with Apple’s retail arm by selling applications. Three of the big four banks are trialling their mobile applications for Telstra’s new T-Hub device, a seven-inch touch screen connected to a Telstra fixed-phone line and Bigpond internet, which will also offer video calling. Apple’s iPad is also expected to have an impact in online banking. Its larger screen and faster processor will make the apps even easier to use, and most companies offering apps are currently redeveloping and tailoring them for the larger screen, rather than simply upsizing them.

To avoid bill shock, read our tips on smartphone data usage.



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