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The corporate mobile banking market has matured quite a bit, and a slew of new devices, cheaper data plans, and faster networks are upon us. Business mobile users have the opportunity to take advantage of rich and powerful mobile banking services, provided their bank has an offering, according to a recent report from Celent.

Key findings of the report include:

•    Mobile mania is upon us, and the business user is no exception. In fact, business users were some of the first to take advantage of mobile technology as they embraced the capabilities of the Blackberry.

•    Adoption of corporate mobile banking solutions has clearly been slow moving. It’s going to be an uphill climb to bring more banks on board. It’s still a question of matching up client demands, IT budgets, and product prioritizations. Today, only ten of the top 25 U.S. banks offer some form of corporate mobile banking solution. If the list is narrowed down to the top ten banks, the figures are more encouraging—eight of the top ten have solutions in place. Celent expects this figure to inch up to 12 of the top 25 in 2012, and to 15 banks in 2013.

•    As mobile solutions and devices have matured, financial institutions have come to several additional realizations—not all business users are destined to be mobile banking users; financial institutions are increasingly emphasizing their business customers particularly in an unprofitable retail banking climate; banks have learned a tremendous amount from their retail mobile initiatives and can apply these learnings; bank-led corporate mobile initiatives extend to enabling B2B payments initiatives, and providing the rails for consumer mobile payments.

•    There are different modalities available for mobile banking—browser-based solutions, native applications, and text. Interestingly, five of the ten large banks that have launched solutions have opted to emphasize the browser only. Another two have browser and native app offerings. Five institutions have launched native applications. Three of these banks offer solutions for iOS (Apple devices) only, while the other two have decided to build native apps to serve iOS, Android, and Blackberry users.

One of the greatest concerns of corporate mobile banking is security. This is especially relevant if transaction initiation is enabled for the mobile user. For now, corporate mobile banking appears to be safe. That doesn’t mean it’s going to continue to be safe, and financial institutions and corporations cannot rely on experiences. Celent believes that mobile fraud attempts are going to explode. It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when, who (who will be targeted), and how. This all points to banks taking a broader view on security that is cross-channel and emphasizes a multilayer approach. In addition, new forms of authentication have the potential to oust the trusty token. Voice authentication and gesture-based authentication are examples.

•    Even though corporate mobile has been around for a while, it’s still uncharted territory for most. Celent recommends that banks conduct a full assessment to determine how they can take advantage of corporate mobile solutions. Banks that ignore the mobile channel will simply fall behind the pack.

•    Banks also must realize that deploying a mobile app or solution doesn’t mean that they have a mobile strategy. Celent recommends that all financial institutions build out a digital channel strategy that encompasses the online and mobile environments. It’s important for banks to understand how the device trifecta (iPhone, Android, and Blackberry) is impacting its clients and how they can build digital solutions to appropriately serve them.

•    Banks exploring mobile also want to understand if they can charge for the solution. It’s a question that comes up frequently, particularly as banks struggle to build mobile business cases. Celent firmly believes that banks should not directly charge for mobile access. It’s a channel like any other, and the lines are starting to blur between online and mobile. At the end of the day, users simply expect to pick up any device and have the appropriate experience. The burden is on the bank to provide it.

“Celent recommends that banks determine how they can take advantage of corporate mobile solutions,” says Jacob Jegher, senior analyst with Celent’s Banking group and author of the report. “Banks that ignore the mobile channel will simply fall behind. Mobile isn’t a ‘nice to have,’ it’s a fundamental mainstream channel.”

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