More than a Third of Small Banks Offer Mobile Payments: Study

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Community banks are stepping up their mobile payments offerings and a growing number say they're doing it more to please customers rather than for the direct profits.

Thirty-seven percent of community banks now offer mobile payments, compared with 14% in 2011, according to a biennial survey released Tuesday by the Independent Community Bankers of America. Another 43% plan to have mobile payments by 2015.

Fifty-two percent of banks identified the desire to improve customer service as the primary motivation of their mobile payments strategy, compared with 47% in the last payments survey in 2011. Meanwhile, 59% said that increasing profitability was an important part of their payments strategy, compared with 70% in 2011.

"Community banks, by definition, are customer- and community- driven," Samuel Vallandingham, the CEO of First State Bank in Barboursville, W.Va., said in a press release Tuesday. "According to this year's survey, most community banks set their bank's strategic direction in payments by listening to their customers," said Vallandingham, who is also the chairman of the ICBA's bank operations and payments committee.

Community banks' shifting rationale for offering mobile payments may relate to the fact that other products are stronger sources of profit. While 36% of community banks increased payments revenue in 2013, compared with 31% in 2011, they attributed the bulk of the growth to rising income from wire transfers, merchant processing and other commercial services.

The ICBA in June surveyed 821 bank with assets between $10 million and $10 billion.

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