Mobile banking a blessing

RICHARD MEADOWS
Last updated 15:29 18/11/2013
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The mobile banking revolution is helping New Zealanders pay their bills on time and keep balances in the black, according to a Westpac survey.

The bank's inaugural Mobile Banking Report, which will be repeated every six months, analysed the behaviour of more than 800 of Westpac's customers.

Half of those surveyed said mobile banking made them feel more in control of their money, while 43 per cent said it meant they paid their bills on time more often.

A further quarter of respondents were less likely to go into overdraft, while 13 per cent said using mobile banking even helped them earn more interest.

However, the main perceived advantage was the ease of access and time saved by banking on the go.

Customers also came up with a "wishlist" of new features they would like to see introduced to smartphones, many of which involved making it easier to pay using mobile.

Almost half of those surveyed wanted to use a mobile for contactless payments, such as getting money from an ATM, and 44 per cent wanted to be able to top up their mortgages or increase their credit card limits.

There was also a strong desire (71 per cent) to see the same functions available across both home PCs and mobile devices, something which Westpac is rolling out with a $15 million overhaul of its platforms.

The favourite place for using mobile banking was home, work, or to kill time when out. About one in five respondents did their banking while in the car, though it was not clear if they were also driving at the time.

The majority of those surveyed were comfortable handling transactions of $1000 or more, and more than half said there was no banking activity they would not consider doing from their phone.

Security was the main concern for those who had not yet made the move to mobile banking.

Westpac general manager retail Ian Blair said: "That's not dissimilar to when online banking was introduced and is something we have to educate customers about."

Massey University banking expert David Tripe said the new survey was of some use, depending on exactly how the questions were worded and framed.

"There is a danger with a survey like this of being once-over lightly."

But Tripe said it was reasonable to think that mobile banking could indeed change consumers' behaviour.

"One would like to think that if people were using mobile they wouldn't go round authorising payments they didn't have the funds to cover."

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Mobile banking has experienced enormous growth in New Zealand, seven times faster than the uptake of internet banking at similar stages.

While the main demographic is 25 to 35-year-olds, the report found that a third of those aged 55 or older were also using mobile banking.

- BusinessDay.co.nz

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