Tablets are replacing smartphones as the prefered online banking channel in Europe: Forrester

Within two years, tablets will have overtaken smartphones as the preferred online mobile banking platform, according to Forrester Research. The growth is stunning: from 19 million users last year to 118 million by 2018.

Mobile phone banking users will more than double in that time, from 42 million to 99 million users. Desktops will still rule the roost, but growth is slowing. According to Forrester analyst Stephen Walker, “As customers start using their tablets and smartphones to do their banking, some will stop using their desktop and laptop PCs. We expect the number of Western European online banking users on PCs and tablets to grow slowly in the next five years and reach 163 million by 2018, masking a big underlying shift from PCs to tablets to access banks’ web sites,” he said.

Among the key findings:

  • Leading European banks, such as France’s BNP Paribas and Société Générale, Germany’s Postbank and Sparkassen, and Sweden’s Swedbank, have already had tablet-optimised apps for two or three years. Many other banks will follow over the next 24 months, encouraging more customers to use their tablets for banking.
  • Consumers are unlikely to ever trust mobiles as much as PCs and tablets, given that the latter two are largely at-home devices that are rarely lost and therefore intrinsically feel more secure to consumers. Tablet users today are less likely than other online users to avoid online banking because of security concerns.
  • France is the only country in the forecast where tablet banking will not overtake mobile banking by 2016, as it combines lower tablet adoption than the other EU countries (apart from Italy) with the highest mobile banking adoption after the Netherlands and Sweden.
  • Forrester expects the proportion of European tablet owners who bank on tablets to almost double from 35 per cent in 2013 to 68 per cent by 2018. In 2018, Sweden will have the highest tablet banking adoption at 89 per cent, while Italy will have the lowest at 54 per cent.

The Australian experience also seems to bear witness to this consumer shift — to an extent. According to a report in American Banking Association Journal, by June last year Westpac Banking Corp had already pushed $A3 billion in payments through its dedicated iPad mobile application.

Given the pace of uptake, that figure is likely much higher today.

According to the ABA report: “It took them nearly five months to reach the $A1 billion figure after the app was launched the previous July. Then it reached $A2 billion just three months later. Then, two months later, $A3 billion. Again, this was a year ago, but it reported doing $A25 million in payments a day through tablet-initiated billpay transactions.

The ABA also quoted Jason Yetton, group executive of Westpac Retail and Business Banking, saying “What has impressed me is the way our customers have driven the switch to mobile banking, first on their smartphones and now through their tablets and all of this by virtual word of mouth. This is truly banking at the speed of life and shows the power of digital in a mobile world.”

The same report, however, suggested online banking tablet adoption in the US was lagging the European experience considerably.

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