skip to main navigation skip to secondary navigation skip to content
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
skip to content

Consumers and Mobile Financial Services
March 2013


As smartphones become more commonly used, and their capabilities expand, they may increasingly be the means consumers use to access financial services and manage their finances. Their constant presence also makes them a potentially useful tool for the delivery of just-in-time financial information or as an aid in decisionmaking. Given the prevalence of mobile phones--particularly smartphones--among minorities, low-income individuals, and younger generations, mobile technology has the potential to empower consumers and expand access to financial services for underserved populations.

The use of mobile banking has increased by more than a third in the past year, and it appears likely to continue to increase as more and more consumers use smartphones. While still small, the use of mobile phones to make payments at the point of sale has increased even more rapidly. Over a quarter of mobile phone users express some interest in using their phones to make payments at the point of sale, giving mobile payments substantial growth potential as the ability to make these payments becomes more widespread.

The two factors limiting consumer adoption of mobile banking and payments are concerns about the security of the technology and a sense that they don't offer any real benefits to the user over existing methods for banking or making payments. With regards to security, consumers have actually become more likely in the past year to report that they simply don't know how safe it is to use mobile banking, suggesting that consumers need to be provided with reliable and accurate information on the level of security associated with the various means of accessing mobile banking. In terms of the value proposition to consumers, the significant number of mobile users who reported an interest in using their phones to receive discounts, coupons, and promotions or to track rewards and loyalty points suggests that tying these services to a mobile payment service would increase the attractiveness of mobile phones as a means of payment.

Back to Top

Last update: August 2, 2013