Mobile banking has a growing significance in the Indian scenario. There are 260 million mobile users and most of the banks in India are already in this space or in the process of providing mobile banking facility to their customers. However it is being considered that mobile banking will proof to be of great help for a huge un-banked population.
Juniper Research conducted a survey and in its report released earlier this month stated mobile banking around the world is expected to grow tenfold to 816 million users by 2011. The report also stated that by same year, only China and Western Europe will have more mobile banking customers than India.
In spite of addition of around seven million mobile users every month, bank officials still feel that it would be too early to gauge the success of mobile banking in India. Officials from various banks expressed their views said, “Mobile banking is still in its nascent stage and we will have to wait and watch if it really changes the way we bank.”
There is also a difference in mobile banking services. Some banks are just offering SMS alerts to their customers, while some of the banks are offering services like payment of utility bills, viewing balance information and requesting mini statements, among others. Similarly, some charge their customers for their mobile banking services, while some others offer them as a free add-on service.
Furthermore, different banks have different modes for customers to avail of their mobile banking services.
The UK-based Barclays, which has recently launched its ‘Hello Money’ mobile banking operations this year, offers services like “fund transfers and bill payments without the customer having to download any application to bank through mobile phones,” according to Suresh Gurumani, director of retail banking at the bank. However, it is charging Rs 30 per month from its customers.
ICICI Bank introduced mobile banking four months back and the customers are required to download an application called ‘iMobile’ from its website. It offers services similar to the ones provided by Barclays.
It is not just private sector banks like Standard Chartered and ICICI that are providing mobile banking services to its customers, even public sector banks like Corporation Bank is also offering their customers a choice to pay their bills and shop using their mobile phones.
Banks that are not already in the mobile banking told that they have plans to begin operations soon, Bank of Baroda being one of them.
Banks are also expanding the services they offer in mobile banking since not many offer all the services under the gamut of mobile banking. For instance, Vijay Ramachandran, marketing director at Citibank India, informed that his bank has plans to go beyond the SMS alerts which it has been providing since 2000 and allow its customers access their account details and transact from their cell phones from May 31 this year.
Are banks looking for revenue in mobile banking? “At present, our focus will be to spread our services across as many locations and customer segments as possible. Revenues will flow in as people accept the service,” says Gurumani.
Although ICICI Bank is offering mobile banking service free of cost, its head of retail liabilities, Maninder Singh Juneja feels it is “an extremely important focus area for us to make banking convenient for our customers.”