The Status of Mobile Banking In July 2002, UK's online bank Egg stated that they were in the process of developing mobile applications. Chris Nelson of Egg's technology concept development group indicated that "the future of banking lies with mobile devices closely integrated with Web services" ("m-banking is there... ." ). This signaled to many of the skeptics that mobile phone banking or 'm-banking' is indeed viable. Yet, very few other institutions are considering mobile devices as a practical delivery channel. According to a survey carried out by the International technology group Bull last year, 75% of UK financial institutions have stated that their primary IT investment for the coming year will be spent on the development of their Web based services, with less than 30% of the respondents including mobile commerce as part of their foreseeable IT plans ("m-banking is there...

." ). The results in the survey have thus cast a doubt over the future of mobile applications in Europe. Despite the popularity of mobile and SMS based applications in other parts of the world, Europe's financial sector has not fully capitalized on mobile technology. Banks are using Internet-based technology and customer relationship management software to attract and retain customers. They still believe that m-commerce has yet to prove itself.

Likewise, financial institutions in the US expected mobile banking options to be popular among their customers. After a short time of offering these services, many banks have decided to quit offering wireless capability to customers (such as Wells Fargo Bank) because of low adoption rates. For instance, "although 93% of users reported overall satisfaction with Wells Fargo's mobile banking, the service proved popular to only a limited group of about 2, 500 early adopters who used it mostly to check balances and transfer funds" ("M-Banking in limbo... ." ). The banks have left their options open stating that they would reintroduce wireless services if there is evidence of demand. Wells Fargo will continue testing wireless applications within the organization.

Certain employees are for example provided wireless email access via BlackBerry's. These wireless devices are also used to notify personnel of system malfunctions. Wells Fargo's strategy may prove effective since it is always wise not to rush into things. Many banks rushed to adopt wireless technology in the hope of gaining competitive advantage. However customers have indicated that wireless access is not of a high priority.

Testing the technology internally to gain expertise and waiting for the right time (when there is a sign of increasing demand for instance) to introduce it is likely to be more effective. In contrast, mobile banking is popular in Africa. One reason may be that mobile phones are more readily available and more accessible (since they are cheaper) than Internet connections in the region. In Nigeria carrying cash or credit cards may be dangerous even lethal which provides another reason why mobile banking may be appealing. One bank, First Atlantic Bank, as a result, introduced a mobile phone based payment system where customers can pay merchants and each other using SMS messages.

The managing director of the bank has indicated that "the service was in response to the increasing clamor for an alternative and more acceptable payment other than cash in the Nigerian economy" ("m-banking is there... ." ). Banks in Kenya, Kampala and Zimbabwe have also recently launched SMS based services. Mobile banking seems to be a growing trend in Africa. The way forward for the banking industry in the region seems to be mobile phones. Similarly, wireless banking is popular in Japan.

A recent estimate indicates that the "number of Internet-ready phones is approaching 30 million and the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi now has 1. 5 million wireless users" ("M-Banking in limbo... ." ). Real-time fund transfers between individuals are possible in Japan since banks are interconnected through a national clearinghouse. This may be attributed to the success and spread of 3 G phones in Japan.

The Potential of Mobile Banking Both telecommunication companies and banks are gradually recognizing the advantages of association between mobile telecommunications and banking in the form of mobile banking. For example, in the UK, major mobile network operators such as Vodaphone and Orange are beginning to offer with large banks such as Barclays basic banking services like account data and inter-account transfers on their networks. Banks for example send instant SMS messages or alerts to their customers at their request in respect to activity on their accounts with the banks. Another service that banks sometimes offer using mobile phones is alerts on mortgage rates and stock market activity, which is not personal information but nevertheless of great importance to many customers. The aim is to achieve convenience, choice and flexibility and thereby attract a larger base of customers.