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Are mobile banking fees coming?

By David McMillin ·
Friday, July 26, 2013
Posted: 11 am ET

Are you regularly using a mobile banking app to manage your money? You may not want to get used to doing it for free.

Boston-based financial consulting firm ath Power Consulting conducted a survey of more than 3,000 mobile banking customers, and if banks listen to the results, it may spell new bank fees for account holders.

"Retail customers are becoming less resistant to monthly fees for mobile, with 1 in 3 now saying they would be willing to pay for mobile banking, up from 1 in 5 in last year's study," Michael McEvoy, managing director of ath Power, said in a statement.

That's quite the year-over-year increase in willingness to pay for mobile tools, and it underscores just how much people are beginning to love the ability to bank while they're on the move.

As banks continue to compete for new account holders, McEvoy believes that providing a good smartphone experience may be the ticket to keeping long-term customers and gaining long-term profits.

"This is a clear opportunity for banks to build customer loyalty and potentially drive revenue," McEvoy said.

Some banks are already driving that revenue. For example, US Bank account holders pay 50 cents for each check deposited via their smartphones. Alabama-based Regions Bank also charges 50 cents per check, but customers can pay even more if they're hoping to have immediate access to the newly deposited funds.

While I won't be surprised to see more banks experiment with ways to monetize their mobile offerings, I also won't be surprised to see some consumer backlash. Consider the recent history of checking accounts. Not long ago, free, no-strings-attached checking account programs seemed to be available at every financial institution. As the majority of banks have broken away from the free mentality, it has taken quite a while for customers to accept the reality that they will need to meet minimum-balance requirements or arrange direct deposit to avoid additional checking fees. I'm guessing that it may take some time for customers who are enjoying free mobile banking apps to feel good about forking over money for the same service, too.

What do you think? Would you be willing to pay for mobile banking?


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