Customers flock to iPhone banking

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Third party transfers and BPAY coming to iPhone.

Westpac has moved to enhance the features offered on its mobile banking application for iPhone, following a better than expected uptake by customers.

The bank is preparing to launch third party transfers and a BPAY bill payments capability, initially for existing payees, with the ability to transfer funds to new payees coming later this year.

Ean van Vuuren, Westpac head of consumer online, said the bank has been pleased with the uptake of mobile banking, with 105,000 downloads recorded since the bank launched its iPhone application in November last year.

"Sessions have grown from 80,000 a month to 150,000 a month," van Vuuren told iTNews.

The Commonwealth Bank has also seen impressive growth in mobile banking registrations and usage, with over 250,000 downloads of its iPhone application, and around 1 million logons being recorded per month. The bank launched mobile banking in March 2009.

A spokesperson for the bank told ITNews mobile banking use by its customers has doubled in the last six months, with 200,000 active users now logging on around five times per month. Around 375,000 of the bank's 2.5 million active online banking customers have used mobile banking at least once.

Westpac, the Commonwealth Bank and Bank of Queensland offer native iPhone applications to enable mobile banking. ANZ, NAB and Suncorp offer mobile banking that is compatible with the Safari browser on the Apple iPhone, as well as a range of other smartphones.

ING Direct recently joined St George Bank in offering an iPhone application that features a home loan calculator.

Bankers are also closely watching the development of applications that allow business people to use their mobile phones to accept credit card payments, such as iCCPay.

Market intelligence firm ABI Research said the number of mobile banking subscribers around the world has been doubling every year since 2008, and has predicted around 407 million people worldwide will carry out financial transactions with their banks using their mobile phones in 2015.

ABI Research senior analyst Mark Beccue said, "The Asia-Pacific region accounted for the lion's share of the world's 52.2 million mobile banking subscribers in 2009.

"The global number of subscribers more than doubled between 2008 and 2009, and is expected to almost double again in 2010. This growth can be seen everywhere, but Asia - led by India - is pushing it particularly hard."

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