More than half of the nation’s largest financial institutions offer mobile-banking services, which continue to evolve from being an extension of online banking to supporting person-to-person funds transfers and other payment capabilities, according to a new report from First Annapolis Consulting Inc.

The Linthicum, Md.-based company based its report on an examination in August and September of the mobile offerings of the top 100 banks ranked by deposits.

At the time, 54 of the banks offered mobile-banking services. That number was “consistent with the fundamental trend and movement toward mobile and serves as a bit of a wake up call” to those not offering such services, says First Annapolis Partner Paul Grill.

Some banks that did not offer mobile banking said they were “not interested, given the characteristics of their customer base,” Grill says.

Some 39% of the financial institutions offered access to banking services via a mobile phone’s Web browser, 32% did so through text messages and alerts, and 32% offered mobile-banking applications, the report notes.

The research identified Apple Inc.’s mobile operating system as the most-popular platform for launching mobile-banking apps, with 28% of the banks choosing that path. Some 16% of the banks studied also offered a Research in Motion Blackberry mobile app, while 14% offered one for Google Inc. Android phones. Android is a mobile operating system developed by Google Inc.

Little difference exists between the banking capabilities offered through mobile Web access and apps, the report concludes. Balance inquiries and transaction histories are standard services, but First Annapolis contends new features will help banks differentiate themselves in the marketplace.

Some 17% of the banks offered mobile global positioning system-based branch and ATM locators. Moreover, 35% allowed mobile bill-pay services, though most banks required consumers to set up a list of payees through online banking.

The report found 23 of the banks researched were expanding their app offerings with mobile remote-deposit capture, person-to-person payments, loyalty programs, and rewards management and redemption.

Mobile-banking apps eventually will help banks, which also must compete against nonbank entities, Grill believes. “There is potential for a gap between what financial institutions offer [in mobile payments] relative to others in the marketplace,” he adds.

Banks should examine different approaches to mobile payments such as person-to-person funds transfers, remittance options and deposit account-based remote-payment capabilities, First Annapolis advises. They also should seek to enhance their apps with mobile wallets that enable consumers to manage their payment products and other mobile-commerce apps from a central location, the report says.

Moreover, banks should participate in NFC pilots to determine how to enable mobile-based payment products at the point of sale, First Annapolis contends.

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