The last time that technology had a major impact in helping banks service their customers was with the introduction of the Internet banking. Internet Banking helped give the customer's anytime access to their banks. Customer's could check out their account details, get their bank statements, perform transactions like transferring money to other accounts and pay their bills sitting in the comfort of their homes and offices.
However the biggest limitation of Internet banking is the requirement of a PC with an Internet connection, not a big obstacle if we look at the US and the European countries, but definitely a big barrier if we consider most of the developing countries of Asia like China and India. Mobile banking addresses this fundamental limitation of Internet Banking, as it reduces the customer requirement to just a mobile phone.
Mobile usage has seen an explosive growth in most of the Asian economies like India, China and Korea. In fact Korea boasts about a 70% mobile penetration rate and with its tech-savvy populace has seen one of the most aggressive rollouts of mobile banking services.
Still, the main reason that Mobile Banking scores over Internet Banking is that it enables ‘Anywhere Banking'. Customers now don't need access to a computer terminal to access their banks, they can now do so on the go – when they are waiting for their bus to work, when they are traveling or when they are waiting for their orders to come through in a restaurant.
The scale at which Mobile banking has the potential to grow can be gauged by looking at the pace users are getting mobile in these big Asian economies. According to the Cellular Operators' Association of India (COAI) the mobile subscriber base in India hit 40.6 million in the August 2004. In September 2004 it added about 1.85 million more. The explosion as most analysts say, is yet to come as India has about one of the biggest untapped markets. China, which already witnessed the mobile boom, is expected to have about 300 million mobile users by the end of 2004. South Korea is targeted to reach about 42 million mobile users by the end of 2005. All three of these countries have seen gradual roll-out of mobile banking services, the most aggressive being Korea which is now witnessing the roll-out of some of the most advanced services like using mobile phones to pay bills in shops and restaurants.