Is that a bank in your pocket? Transactions via ASB's mobile app overtake online banking

With the launch of Apple Pay last month, Semble last week and various other schemes, being able to pay with your mobile phone is fast becoming a reality. But bank customers have been doing it for a few years now. And ASB says financial transactions through its mobile app have increased by two thirds in the past year, pushing internet banking firmly into second place.

ASB, which won Canstar's Best Online Bank award in 2012 and 2013 and is seen as one of the world's most innovative banks, introduced the country's first internet banking service in 1997 and released its mobile banking app in 2012. And in little over a year, more ASB customers were banking through a mobile device than through traditional internet banking. 

“Today, that gap has widened further," says Fiona Colgan, general manager, digital at ASB. "The number of active customers using ASB’s mobile app has increased by more than 40 percent over the past year. Financial transactions on the mobile app increased by two thirds during the same period. The ASB mobile app has grown at four times the rate that FastNet Classic internet banking did at the early stages of its lifecycle. Customer uptake and usage of our app is growing weekly and with 90% of New Zealanders estimated to be on smartphones by 2018, growth in this area shows no signs of abating."

Google research suggests New Zealand is ranked 17th in the world for smartphone penetration, with 65% of Kiwis now thought to have a smartphone, up from 40% in 2012. And banking has been one of the industries most affected by the rapid uptake (since inception, the ASB mobile app has handled 25 million transactions). 

“Our customers live life on-the-go and we know that mobile banking makes their life easier. They are using ASB Mobile to check their balances via our Quick Balance feature and keep up with their bill payments,” Colgan says. "Time has become a precious commodity in our modern day lives and it’s in this way that ASB’s mobile app is having its greatest impact. Our research shows that our customers are prioritising quality time to be with their family and mobile banking gives them more time to do that."

There are 1.75 billion smartphones in use worldwide and Kiwis have become increasingly reliant on theirs, with 63% of us accessing the internet through our phone each day and most of us never leaving home without it. That has its drawbacks, of course, and, in a recent US study on nomophobia, the clinical description for the fear of being out of mobile contact, 63% of respondents said they checked their phone for messages or calls once an hour, 9% said they checked their phone every f5 minutes and 63% said they would be upset if they left home without their smartphone. 

In New Zealand, 84% of us use our phones while performing other activities, like watching TV. On average, we have 27 applications on our phones, while over 33% of Kiwis have used their smartphone for purchasing.

When internet banking was first introduced, many customers were nervous about security and reluctant to share their credit card details online. That fear has all but disappeared as more and more of use purchase things online. But the ASB mobile app uses Netcode as an extra level of security and ASB encourages customers to only register three devices at one time.

With the mobile app, customers can pay via email, mobile phone number, or Facebook and they can also pay directly to Trade Me sellers through bill payments.