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Mobile Banking to Reach 400 Million Users; Android Becoming More Popular

Juniper Research expects global mobile banking usage to double in three years. Other research shows that despite fraud mishaps earlier this year, Google's Android is moving up the smartphone food chain.

Use of mobile banking worldwide is about to double to 400 million people in the next three years, according to a Juniper Research report released today that also found that more than 80% of banks currently offer some form of mobile banking. [A note of caution: in April 2008, Juniper Research forecast that more than 800 million consumers would be using mobile banking services by 2011. The current number is around 200 million.] The report notes that banks are becoming more innovative in their service offerings and that that is stimulating user uptake.

Within this macro trend, other recent research shows that Google's Android operating system is becoming a more popular device to bank on. Research firm IDC said Monday that it expects Android to be the fastest growing wireless operating system from now until 2013, when it will be the second most widely used type of phone, with 100 million Android units expected to be sold in 2012. Today, the Symbian operating system, used mostly on Nokia phones, is the most popular type of smartphone worldwide, followed by RIM and then Apple. (The market looks very different in the U.S., where RIM's BlackBerry is still dominant, Apple is second and Microsoft's Windows Mobile operating system is third.)

Mobile banking via Adroid has had a rather checkered past. In January, Google pulled about 50 applications from its Android Market in response to concerns that they might be malicious. All the apps were uploaded by the same developer and claimed to offer access to bank accounts from a variety of institutions including JPMorgan Chase, HSBC, U.S. Bank, USAA and ING. At least one of these applications was reported to be infected with a trojan designed to steal users' bank login details.

Yet many financial institutions, including Bank of America, TD Bank and USAA, have forged ahead with their own Android-friendly mobile applications. Mobile banking platform providers, including Sybase and Monetise Americas, support the Android OS. Just today, Pyxis Mobile announced that the latest version of its mobile banking platform includes support for Android. Where the customers and major platform providers go, banks are sure to follow.

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