While there are few countries in the world that have not cottoned onto the benefits of mobile Internet services there is some debate as to whether consumers trust these services enough to use them on a frequent basis. Despite the fact that millions upon millions of pounds have been invested into this particular area it seems there is still much work to be done by mobile phone companies, Internet service providers and financial institutions to educate the public and encourage greater usage of the services available today.
When you bear in mind the fact that the vast majority of us have access to a mobile phone, it is very often the first thing we see in the morning and the last thing we see at night, perhaps the mobile phone is the ultimate in communication tools? It therefore makes sense to accommodate some of the more popular services we require on a regular basis via mobile Internet networks although our will online poll seems to have highlighted a number of different philosophies and different usage patterns across the developed and developing world.
Before we take a look at the results from our online poll, with regards to expats in Australia, we will have a look at the mobile phone industry in general and where we stand at the moment.
When you bear in mind that many of us need to keep a very tight control of our financial situation the ability to access your bank accounts on the move 24 hours a day seven days a week is a godsend to many of us. The introduction of mobile banking has perhaps taken longer than many people had expected, is perhaps not as secure as many had hoped but the reality is that the service is there and usage numbers are increasing. The situation in Australia is perhaps different to many other developed countries around the world as the Australian government seems to be more proactive with regards to Internet investment than many other governments.
Those who follow Australia carefully will be well aware that the government is currently undertaking a major broadband network update which will see the investment of tens of billions of dollars over the next few years and the roll-out of a superfast broadband network across the vast majority of the country. It stands to reason that increased interest in land-based Internet services will at some point translate into increased interest in mobile Internet services and could place the countries financial institutions at the forefront of this revolution. It is also worth noting that as there are many expats living in Australia who will predominantly require access to their former homeland banking services the onset of mobile Internet banking is perhaps more beneficial to this area of the population than most.
If you sit back and look at the situation from a distance the very fact that mobile phone companies, Internet service providers and banking groups have invested millions of dollars in online banking services illustrates the potential for the future. These are not companies which invest money on a song and a pray, these are not companies which do not plan ahead as they will require a return on their investment in the short to medium term.
We will now take a look at the results from the Australian expat community with regards to the question, how often do you use your mobile or smartphone for mobile banking?
Yes – frequently (26%)
When you bear in mind the fact that the Australian government has publicly declared its intention to invest tens of billions of dollars into a new superfast broadband network across the country it is perhaps no surprise that mobile Internet usage is higher than average. The figure of 26% for Australian expats reflects very well compared to the 15.87% across our overall poll which includes a large number of different countries. This figure may well surprise many people but behind the scenes the Australian authorities have been very proactive with regards to new technologies and new services across the board. Are we seeing payback time for the Australian authorities?
It will be interesting to see whether the roll-out of the superfast broadband network does encourage more use of mobile Internet services because these services are very closely interlinked.
Yes – occasionally (6%)
It is rather strange to see the figure of 6%, relating to those who use mobile banking services occasionally, when the percentage for the overall poll came in at 10.80%. It is difficult to say whether this is an anomaly on whether indeed there are two very distinct camps in Australia, those who are happy to use mobile Internet services and those who do not trust them, with very few in the middle. The fact that the geography of the country is very challenging may well impact upon the uptake of mobile Internet services and the popularity of mobile banking services. However, the low figure of 6% is slightly puzzling?
On the flipside, 32% of the Australian expat community appear willing to access mobile banking services on an occasion or a frequent basis. This figure is significantly greater than that in the UK expat community and an array of other expat groups around the world. So perhaps we are being a little unfair with regards to the take up of mobile banking services in Australia?
No – level (68%)
The figure of 68% compares favourably to the overall figure of 73.33% and would suggest, as we mentioned above, that more and more people are now happy to consider mobile banking services as their banking method of choice. In many ways this is a win-win situation for the mobile phone companies, Internet service providers and the financial institutions in Australia and around the world. The ball has started rolling with regards to mobile Internet banking usage but there is still an enormous section of the market to convert which should eventually lead to increased income and significant profits.
It seems inconceivable that mobile banking will not at some stage become more commonplace across the world, especially bearing in mind the significant investment by companies and governments, and the fact that security issues are being addressed. The only real variable to consider is the timescale it will take banking institutions to convert off-line customers to land-based Internet services and then onto mobile Internet services. Once banks around the world are able to crack this Holy Grail of the banking community then they can roll out services at the click of a button and have almost immediate contact with customers were ever in the world they may be.
The convenience of mobile banking
If you mention the term mobile banking it will prompt a number of comments from different people many of them positive but a number of them negative. Security has been and always will be an issue, which we will cover in more detail below, but there is one aspect of mobile banking which has been accepted by the vast majority of people, the convenience of mobile banking.
When you take into account the fact that many of us literally sleep with our mobile phones by our side, look at our phones first thing in the morning and are very often woken by our mobile phone alarm, then this is potentially the most powerful communication tool ever. The ability to simply switch on your mobile phone, access your online banking services and check accounts, move money and carry out transactions wherever you may be is worth its weight in gold. There is no doubt that the hustle and bustle of everyday life, family life and working life, leaves very little in the way of free time therefore if you can utilise a spare 5 minutes or 10 minutes here and there it will give you more relaxation time at home.
It seems as though more and more of us are now happy to access our mobile banking services on the bus, on the train, in the car or even when we have a spare 5 minutes at lunchtime. We can set bookmarks on our mobile browsers which mean the simple press of a button will have our mobile banking services on screen and active. For many people it is the convenience factor which will eventually sell mobile banking services although at this moment in time there is some concern about security and reliability.
As we touched on above, perhaps the main issue associated with mobile banking services, and indeed mobile Internet services, is security. The vast majority of us are concerned about who may be able to access our mobile Internet services via underhand tricks, whether indeed these Internet connections are secure and to a lesser extent how reliable they are. The reality is that such is mobile Internet technology today that in many ways they are as reliable and secure as land-based connections. This will surprise many people and perhaps the mobile, Internet and banking communities have let themselves down by failing to get the message across to would-be users?
Whether or not we like it, the fact remains that not one Internet connection can ever be 100% secure. Perhaps we are demanding more from mobile phone companies, Internet service providers and financial institutions than is possible? They have already invested millions upon millions of pounds into secure websites, secure connections and more reliable connections but ultimately if we are aiming for the Holy Grail of mobile Internet then this is just not possible. As a consequence, the relatively few major online security issues, and when you bear in mind Internet usage as a whole they are relatively few, tend to grab the headlines and tend to strike fear into the hearts of those who are potentially looking to use mobile Internet services for their banking arrangements.
In many ways perhaps we need to undertake a period of “joining the dots” whereby Internet service providers, mobile phone companies, financial institutions and consumers meet each other halfway to get the full picture. There are many myths, untruths and downright lies about Internet safety and perhaps the business arena has been slow to pick up on this growing phenomenon and killed stone dead any untruths. Without a trust factor there are very few services around the world which will flourish, without the trust factor the millions of pounds invested in mobile Internet services could be wasted but the reality is that businesses have gone way beyond the point of no return and will need to find a solution to this vital piece of the jigsaw.
As we touched on above, the Australian government has committed itself to investing tens of billions of dollars into a superfast broadband network across the country. We’ve also seen an array of Australian mobile phone companies rolling out their 4G networks which will offer the fastest mobile Internet services ever seen. While 4G is by far and away the most important ongoing development in the area of mobile Internet activity it is perhaps interesting to take a look back and review how the sector has developed and grown over the years.
How many of us can remember 1G, 2G and 3G network services and exactly what they offered? How many of us can remember when there was no Internet access on a traditional mobile phone? In many ways we take for granted the ongoing developments in the world of mobile communication and mobile Internet and automatically assume they will improve year-on-year with minimal effort. The truth is that mobile phone companies, Internet service providers and with regards to online banking, financial institutions, continue to invest millions upon millions of pounds into their own particular piece of the jigsaw. So what next?
The mobile communications industry is perhaps the fastest developing area of the technological age with an array of new products and services already planned for the future. This is an industry which cannot afford to sit still, this is an industry which is very capital investment intensive and this is an industry which takes years of meticulous planning to bring to fruition new services and new offerings. So what does the future hold?
As we touched on above, 4G networks are being rolled out across Australia, and indeed across the developed and developing world, and will make a major difference to mobile Internet services. This in turn should increase the popularity of mobile banking with greater reliability, greater accessibility and to some extent improved security issues. However, as we touched on above, not one Internet service can ever be 100% secure and the sooner we understand this, the better for all concerned.
Over the last few years we have seen the introduction of mobile phones as a type of ewallet. This is effectively your own electronic wallet holding money on your behalf and allowing you to spend it in selected shopping establishments by simply swiping your mobile phone over a detector. While this particular service continues to grow in popularity and availability it has also suffered from something of a trust factor issue although this is likely to diminish in due course.
Mobile phone companies, Internet service providers and in this particular instance banking institutions were very quick to realise that many of us have our mobile phones pinned to our sides 24 hours a day. It has therefore become the most important communication tool in living history and the likelihood is that new developments in the future will surprise us, leave us open mouthed but ultimately make us ever more dependent upon these mobile devices.
As soon as companies are able to crack the trust factor then we should see the popularity of mobile Internet services and in particular mobile banking services increase significantly, but when will this be?
The very fact that the Australian government is investing tens of billions of dollars into a new superfast broadband network across the country has highlighted the benefits of mobile Internet services as well. The results from the Australian expat community seem to indicate there are two very distinct camps, those who use mobile banking services and those who do not. There appear to be very few expats sitting in the middle of this particular argument although it has to be said that the 26% of the expat community who use mobile banking on a frequent basis is a figure which is above average for the overall poll.
It seems almost inevitable that mobile banking services will become ever more popular, ever more commonplace and hopefully more secure in the months and years ahead. The fact that there is a significant take-up already with regards to mobile banking services and a further 68% of the Australian expat community to “have a go at” should give the business arena interesting food for thought. As we touched on above, the mobile phone and many other mobile devices have become a backbone to the lives of many people and indeed they are widely recognised as the most powerful of communication tools we have ever seen.
There may be challenges ahead with regards to the geography of Australia and the availability of mobile Internet services in some of the more rural areas. However, there is no doubt that the Australian government, and Australian mobile phone companies, are determined to roll out ever faster broadband networks to some of the more far-flung areas of the country. The Australian government has been and continues to be one of the most forward-looking and proactive in the developed world.