Over the last 20 years or so we have seen a massive increase in the number of mobile phones around the world, mobile Internet services available and indeed in the eyes of many people the mobile phone is the most powerful communication tool ever. We therefore thought it would be interesting to see how many expats in India use their mobile or smartphone for mobile banking because there is no doubt that the banking community has taken up the challenge of providing online services and invested millions upon millions of pounds.
There are few countries in the world which can match the attractions of the Indian mobile phone market because of the massive population, a very strong economy and the fact that more and more people are now able to afford such items. Historically new technology such as mobile phones was very much at the beck and call of the higher echelons of the Indian community but the ever-growing number of expats in the region together with a very strong economy has seen the take-up of mobile phones increase dramatically and mobile Internet usage increase significantly.
Before we look at the answers to online poll, from the Indian expat community, we will first take a look at the mobile phone market as a whole and how the challenges of mobile banking have been addressed.
As we touched on above, the Indian mobile phone market is absolutely enormous and there are very few other countries in the world which offer the same growth prospects. Many of the major mobile phone companies around the world recognised this potential some time ago and there was, and continues to be, a great clamour to gain a significant share of the Indian mobile phone market. This has led to a significant increase in mobile phone services and banking/finance is an area which is attracting significant interest and significant investment.
One problem for some areas of India is the fact that mobile phone coverage is not countrywide at this moment in time. As a consequence of this ongoing roll-out many areas of the country, some of the more rural sites, do not have access to mobile Internet services although predominantly these are not the areas which are attracting the vast majority of expats to India. Mobile phone coverage, mobile Internet coverage and mobile banking services are now commonplace across many of India’s cities and towns and this is set to continue for some time to come.
The ability to literally keep an eye on your finances 24 hours a day seven days a week is something which many of us have been used to via landline-based Internet services. However, due to the ever-growing hustle and bustle of everyday life many of us will not be able to access land-based Internet services at the drop of a hat therefore the ability to sit down, log onto your mobile banking services and carry out checks and complete transactions is something of a godsend to many people. It will be interesting to see how mobile banking develops in countries such as India which has absolutely enormous potential for growth in the short, medium and longer term. The Indian economy is currently one of the strongest in the world and many experts believe it will become one of the economic powerhouses in due course.
We will now take a look at the answers received from expats in India with regards to the question, how often do you use your mobile or smartphone for mobile bank?
Yes – frequently (27.03%)
It may come as no surprise to learn that of the top nine expat communities who responded to online poll India has the largest percentage of frequent mobile banking users. The figure of 27.03% compares very favourably to the overall poll result of 15.87% and would seem to suggest that mobile banking services have been welcomed with open arms by the Indian expat community. There may be a number of reasons why this figure is significantly higher than that seen by many other expat communities with one factor being the availability of physical banking branches and the very challenging employment market where some people have very little time for “relaxation”.
It will be interesting to see whether this figure increases in due course because this is certainly a very good starting point for the mobile phone industry, Internet service providers as well as the banking community.
Yes – occasionally (10.81%)
The figure of 10.81% is almost exactly the same as that for the overall poll which came in at 10.80% and is perhaps a little surprising when you bear in mind the significantly higher figure for those who use mobile banking services on a more frequent basis. However, like all mobile banking services, and indeed mobile Internet services, there are still many people who have reservations about the security, reliability and for many the trust factor is still yet to be proven.
On the flipside, when you bear in mind the significantly higher than average figure for those who use mobile Internet banking services on a frequent basis we can only assume that the Indian market will be one of the more popular and fastest-growing in the short, medium and longer term. The reality is that if mobile phone companies, Internet service providers and financial institutions can nurture the trust of consumers in the Indian market then this experience and these strategies can be replicated across the world.
No – never (62.16%)
As we touched on above, while mobile Internet is probably more commonplace in other countries around the world due to the geography of India and the fact that many of the more rural locations may find it difficult to access mobile Internet services, this figure of 62.16% is probably artificially high. If we were to centre our poll across some of India’s cities and larger towns the likelihood is that we would have a much higher usage figure due in the main to greater access.
Many mobile phone companies will be licking their lips with anticipation at the expected growth in the Indian market when you bear in mind the size of the market and the fact that 62.16% of the expat community, and a significant amount of the domestic Indian community, have not as yet switched on to the benefits of mobile banking. It is not difficult to see why this is one of the more active markets, it is not difficult to see why many experts are predicting significant growth and compared to their peers there is no doubt that progress has been made.
The convenience of mobile banking
There are many factors to take into consideration with regards to mobile banking including security, reliability and the trust factor built up between consumers and mobile banking service providers. The one factor which is pushing this particular market to more and more people is the fact that the convenience of mobile banking has been appreciated by millions and millions of people around the world. The ability to literally do your banking on the move, check balances, transfer cash and carry out other transactions is for many people worth its weight in gold. It would be wrong to suggest that everybody has been converted, it would be wrong to say that mobile banking has peaked and it would also be wrong to say that no improvements can be made. However, there is also no doubt that this is an area of mobile Internet services which is set to grow and grow.
As we touched on above, one of the factors which need to be taken into consideration with regards to the Indian expat community and the Indian mobile phone market is that national coverage has not yet been fulfilled. Therefore there will be some in the expat community who have limited or no access to mobile Internet services and, as a consequence, do not have access to mobile banking services. It makes sense for mobile phone companies, Internet service providers and banking groups to centralise their spending and their focus upon the larger towns and major cities of India where the return on investment will be greater and materialise quicker. However, there is also no doubt that as time goes by we will see mobile phone services and mobile Internet services rolled out across the vast majority of India to the benefit of millions of people.
If there is one issue which rears its head time and time again in relation to not only mobile Internet services but Internet services as a whole it has to be security. Despite the fact that Indian mobile phone companies are among a group of leaders pushing technologies to the limit, rolling out the latest 4G network and attracting more and more customers there is still work to be done on beefing up security. However, do the Indian mobile phone community expect too much from their mobile phone service providers with regards to security?
Despite the fact that billions upon billions of pounds have been poured into the mobile phone industry over many years, billions and billions of pounds have been poured into the Internet services industry over the years and banking institutions are paranoid about offering mobile banking services which are as secure as possible, no Internet connection is ever 100% secure. In many ways we are aiming for the Holy Grail of Internet security which is untenable so perhaps consumers do need to reduce their hopes and aspirations for Internet security in the future and appreciate that there are risks whether banking off-line, online or with your mobile phone?
There is also a sneaking suspicion that a lack of follow-through from mobile phone companies, Internet service providers and banking groups has left many consumers with the wrong impression about the level of security offered today with regards to mobile Internet services. This seems slightly bizarre when you bear in mind the massive amount of money which has been invested and perhaps we need to look at a “joining of the dots” exercise to give consumers, businesses and even mobile phone companies the fuller picture.
It is also worth mentioning that while Internet security as a whole is probably the responsibility of Internet service providers and mobile phone companies, not to mention financial institutions, we also need to play our part. How many of us hold our passwords, usernames, confidential information, etc in our mobile phone contact book? How many of us add passwords to our mobile phone to restrict access to confidential information in the event of our phone being lost or stolen? The reality is that we all have a role to play in securing our services, mobile phones and Internet access.
Is very easy to sit back and criticise the level of mobile Internet services across India, the security available at the moment and the reliability factor in some of the far-flung areas of the country. However, if we take a look at the mobile phone industry over the last 20 years, 30 years, 40 years it will soon become very clear that there have been major developments. We have moved from 1G, 2G, 3G to the latest superfast mobile Internet services of 4G which is currently being rolled out across many areas of India. This service has been many years in the planning stage, attracted billions of pounds of investment and despite the fact that we expect a simple flick of a switch to bring these services to life that is not the case. It is also worth noting that the mobile phone industry is highly capital investment intensive and meticulous planning is needed to ensure the best return on investment for businesses and the best services for consumers.
The mobile Internet services we have today are light years away from the mobile phone services of years gone by but do we fully appreciate that? The complexity of technology available today, the research carried out to get us to where we are today and the thoughts and hopes for the future have been stretching the minds and the balance sheets of many companies and many people for many years. Only a few years ago the thought of flipping open your mobile phone, accessing your bank accounts, checking balances and carrying out transactions would have been alien to the vast majority of people. Even though many will still need to build a trust factor with regards to mobile banking services the fact is that many of us have considered using them and will likely use them more frequently in the future.
As we touched on above, the major developments in the mobile phone industry and mobile Internet services, which have a direct impact upon mobile banking services, centre round the roll-out of 4G Internet services. In many ways the 4G network has crept up on us as many mobile phone companies in India and around the world are currently in the process of rolling out their own variations of this particular technology. Indeed we have seen a once-in-a-lifetime collaboration between many of the major mobile phone companies around the world to ensure that the roll-out of 4G is as smooth and secure as possible and captures the hearts and minds of as many consumers and businesses as they can.
It is also worth mentioning that while 4G Internet services will be grabbing the headlines for some time to come mobile phone companies, Internet service providers and other technology-based companies will already be looking to the future and the next generation of mobile phone services and mobile Internet services. This is an industry which is constantly changing, this is an industry which is now a core part of the life of many people and this is an industry which requires meticulous planning many years in advance of the release of new services.
Sometimes it is easy not to appreciate the developments in the world of mobile phone technology, mobile Internet services and indeed mobile banking. In many ways we take for granted ongoing developments in technology when perhaps we should sit back every now and again and just appreciate what we have?
The Indian mobile phone market is one of the largest in the world and as the country continues to attract more and more expats because of it strong economy it was perhaps inevitable that we would see above average use of mobile phone services across the Indian expat community. The figures in question may well surprise many people but the reality is that the lifestyle and the incomes available in some of India’s cities and larger towns are incomprehensible to those who live in some of the more rural areas of the country. The mobile phone industry in India is still growing, is still developing but the potential is enormous and this fact has obviously grabbed the attention of mobile phone companies around the world.
The very fact that the Indian mobile banking sector has grown significantly quicker than that in the vast majority of developed and developing countries is a reflection of the enormous investment companies have made in this particular area. Quite why expats are more trusting of mobile banking services in India compared to the likes of the UK is a little puzzling but perhaps the strategies used in India and the business model used across the expat community can be replicated across the worldwide community?