Mobile Banking: Experts See 'Humongous' Growth in Canada For 2012

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TORONTO - Most Canadians still aren't pulling out their phones to check their bank account balances and pay bills but experts and users alike expect a whole lot more will be doing so in 2012.

"We definitely see there's been humongous growth on the banking front on the phone platform," says Bryan Segal, vice-president of the digital measurement firm comScore.

Canadians are among the world's leaders when it comes to embracing online and mobile banking, according to comScore.

Last year, Canada ranked as the top country for online banking usage, with almost 65 per cent of our Internet users going on the web each month to check their accounts.

More recently, comScore estimated there were about 13.3 million Canadians regularly doing online banking, compared to 63.6 million in the U.S. On a per capita basis, our online banking customer base is about twice as large as south of the border.

Now that online banking has become familiar and comfortable for plugged-in Canadians, mobile is expected to grow.

Segal says about 13 per cent of Canada's mobile users now access their banking on their phone on a monthly basis, which is roughly on par with the U.S. market and ahead of the European Union.

Given that comScore recently pegged the Canadian mobile market at 20.1 million customers strong, that suggests we're nearing three million Canadians using mobile banking.

"About 22 per cent of those people actually access their bank accounts on a daily basis," Segal adds, "for 36 per cent it's at least once a week, and for 41 per cent it's once to three times throughout the month."

In March, 77.5 per cent of Canadian mobile banking users were on a smartphone, with most using an iPhone.

TD Bank (TSX:TD) and RBC (TSX:RY) had the biggest chunk of the market, with 26.7 per cent and 25.7 per cent of mobile banking users, followed by CIBC (TSX:CM) with 17 per cent, Scotiabank (TSX:BNS) with 13.2 per cent and ING Direct with 9.8 per cent.

ING conducted a survey in October to gauge interest in mobile banking and found about half of Canada's smartphone users expect to use their phone to check their account in the next year or two. Of those in the 18 to 34 age bracket, 64 per cent saw themselves using mobile banking.

ING said it handled over 200,000 fund transfers and one million balance inquiries on its mobile platform in the previous 18 months.

According to a survey by the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, the biggest reason users are avoiding mobile banking is security. About 52 per cent said they had security-related concerns, while 24 per cent said they simply found online banking easier than mobile banking.

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