Mobile banking is poised to become the big killer mobile application arena. However, Banks going mobile the first time need to tread the path cautiously. The biggest decision that Banks need to make is the channel that they will support their services on.
Mobile banking through an SMS based service would require the lowest amount of effort, in terms of cost and time, but will not be able to support the full breath of transaction-based services. However, in markets like India where a bulk of the mobile population users' phones can only support SMS based services, this might be the only option left.
On the other hand a market heavily segmented by the type and complexity of mobile phone usage might be good place to roll of WAP based mobile applications. A WAP based service can let go of the need to customize usability to the profile of each mobile phone, the trade-off being that it cannot take advantage of the full breadth of features that a mobile phone might offer.
Mobile application standalone clients bring along the burden of supporting multiple mobile device profiles. According to the Gartner Group, a leading wireless computing consulting organization, mobile banking services will have to support a minimum of 50 different device profiles in the near future. However, currently the best user experience, depending on the capabilities of a mobile phone, is possible only by using a Standalone client.
Mobile banking has the potential to do to the mobile phone what E-mail did to the Internet. Mobile Application based banking is poised to be a big m-commerce feature, and if South Korea's foray into mass mobile banking is any indication, mobile banking could well be the driving factor to increase sales of high-end mobile phones. Nevertheless, Bank's need to take a hard and deep look into the mobile usage patterns among their target customers and enable their mobile services on a technology with reaches out to the majority of their customers.