Is mobile banking the future of financial services?

How close are you to a mobile device? You are most likely not more than a few inches away from your smartphone or tablet at any given time. 

The same can be said for consumers in the financial services industry. The ongoing trend has been in favor of mobile devices, with online banking and other tech-based applications helping people bank from anywhere in the world - certainly nowhere near the actual branch. As a result, banks are changing. Tellers' jobs are evolving, and the entire operation has begun to shift as these businesses look to adapt to customers who want services quickly and on the go.

Are we 'addicted' to mobile banking?
According to a recent survey from Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting Group, Americans aren't just appreciative of mobile banking - we are actually addicted to it. The business and technology consulting firm conducted its survey of more than 1,000 U.S. consumers and found that more than half - 55 percent - report that mobile banking is a habit.

"Many Americans consider mobile banking a 'habit.'"

"An ever-increasing consumer demand for instant gratification is seeping into every facet of our lives, including how we bank," explained Byl Cameron, Carlisle and Gallagher's Digital Practice Lead. "Consumers want to do everything on every device that they own: laptop, smartphone, phablet or tablet."

While 55 percent of respondents already use mobile banking as part of their routine, that number could continue to increase. Carlisle and Gallagher noted that mobile device growth will remain prominent over the next two years. The survey found that 84 percent of those polled intend to buy a smartphone by 2016, while 26 percent want a laptop and 25 percent want a tablet. In addition, 81 percent want to use a laptop to bank and 62 percent want to use a smartphone to bank by 2016.

Out of all the services available online, consumers today prefer three, according to the survey: checking balances, transferring funds and paying bills. In the future, these tasks could become even more common on mobile devices.

Will mobility change how banks operate?
Given the rise of mobile banking, what does the future of the financial services industry look like? And how can your bank stay ahead of the curve?

Perhaps one of the best ways you can remain profitable is to embrace mobile banking. However, this doesn't mean shutting all your doors and going completely remote. You'll still have a need for tellers, bankers and other employees to help out customers who prefer - or need - that face-to-face interaction. To adapt, it is time to look toward the current technology.

"To stay in the game, banks must redefine key roles in the business."

For example, cash recyclers can be a big help as you change the roles of your tellers. With these devices, you'll be able to store, count and disperse cash faster and safer than ever before. That frees up your tellers to perform other important roles within your bank. In addition, you may even need to redefine the teller position completely, according to Bankrate.

With mobile banking and multi-purpose ATMs, customers today have services that will meet their needs that never include speaking to another person in person.

"Banks can't afford to pay tellers to stand around and be ready to post deposits and process withdrawals if technology is facilitating those transactions elsewhere," Greg McBride, CFA and senior financial analyst at Bankrate.com, told the news source.

In all likelihood, mobile banking is the future of the financial services industry. Customers now want flexibility, simplicity and availability, and technology can provide that to them. For bank branches to stay in the mix, they'll have to find effective ways to incorporate this technology while still providing valuable services not offered on a smartphone or tablet.