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At least 1 person in 35 million U.S. households now takes to their smartphone to bank, but this audience is largely passive, a recent survey from Fiserv, a financial services technology company, shows.

These mobile users are predominately using apps to view account balances, while a much smaller percentage are using their phones to make transactions — transferring money between accounts, depositing checks using their phone’s camera and paying bills, for example.

But Fiserv’s Geoff Knapp believes that will change.

More of us will use our smartphones to bank

“I expect to see a lot more transacting on the mobile phone,” says Knapp, the firm’s vice president for market management. “I think it’s just that technology needs to catch up.”

Fiserv’s Consumer Trends Survey also showed that:

  • Online banking has reached a near saturation point. Some 86 million households now connect with their bank via computer.
  • Mobile banking is expanding — from 30 million households in 2013 to 35 million in 2014 — but still has room to grow.

“There’s clearly a lot of folks who have yet to adapt mobile,” Knapp says.

Online banking vs. mobile banking

Indeed, that comfort level just isn’t there yet. That’s made clear when you look at the reasons why people use online banking and compare them with the reasons people use mobile banking.

Online banking has become a much more active activity. While the No. 1 reason for online banking is to be able to access account balances at any time of day (75%), it’s also a popular way to manage household finances (56%) and manage financial tasks without going to the bank (54%).

Notice that word “manage.”

Here, on the other hand, are the reasons why people use mobile banking, according to Fiserv:

  • I can access my bank account from anywhere. (73%)
  • It saves time. (63%)
  • I can access my bank account without a computer or visiting the bank. (62%)
  • It is very easy to use compared to other methods of paying bills. (36%)
  • I don’t have to worry about using cash or cards at certain retailers. (24%)

The most popular activities here have very little to do with doing anything. Does that mean Americans are just not comfortable yet with depositing their checks by phone — or that they don’t find features like this very useful?

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