Banking Mobile Apps Used by 58% of Consumers

IAB-led study shows power of virtual wallet

The virtual wallet appears to be catching on fast.

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The virtual wallet appears to be catching on fast. Fifty-eight percent of consumers now use their bank's mobile app while an additional 25 percent are aware that the technology is available, per a survey from the Interactive Advertising Bureau, InMobi and Viggle.  

Somewhat surprisingly, a lower number of consumers—50 percent—use a bank's mobile website. Viggle, a TV-based rewards app, surveyed 1,242 of its users in March to arrive at the numbers in the report, dubbed "Money and Mobile." 

While these numbers are likely encouraging to virtual-wallet marketers, Sarah Hudgins, public policy director at the IAB, warns that brands should be responsible with their apps in order to foster trust in the consumer community. "We've already seen [self-regulation] work in the desktop environment," she said. "Let's make sure that happens in mobile as well."

In terms of branded financial apps that respondents use, Paypal clearly leads (37 percent), followed by Mint (11 percent), Turbotax (9 percent), Square (8 percent) and Google Wallet (7 percent).

Meanwhile, the report discovered that consumers are utilizing smartphones to make a number of different kinds of payments including:

• phone bills (42 percent), and other charges due (46 percent);

• real-world goods/services, such as meals or drinks via a pre-paid card on the phone (34 percent);

• tickets for a movie/concert/travel/etc. (37 percent);

• media such as movies, music or smartphone apps (45 percent); and

• paying back friends or family (19 percent).

"Consumers show a definite willingness and interest in using their smartphones as a mechanism for making payments," added Shrikant Latkar, InMobi's vp of global marketing, in a statement. "The impediment is with retailers and individuals not currently being set up to accept those payments. It is fascinating, however, to see how far this has come so quickly. In some cases, like morning coffee, paying with your mobile phone has almost become routine."

Lastly, the three firms timed their report to align with the tax crunch around the IRS' April 15 deadline. And their survey asked consumers if they knew tax-filing apps were available. Fifty-seven percent said they were aware of them, but only a small number (6 percent) said that they have actually employed an app to file. 

"This time of year always poses a challenge to all of us needing to get our taxes, and thereby our personal finances, in order,” Greg Consiglio, Viggle president and COO, said in a statement. "Financial services advertisers need to consider a mobile buy in the mix, if they want to reach consumers where they are increasingly spending their time and looking for services that make their lives easier."

@Chris_Heine Christopher Heine is a New York-based editor and writer.