The number of companies offering mobile electronic-commerce solutions is growing.
Foliage Software System announced this week the release of iBrowserPlus, which supports shopping, banking, and stock trading on palm-sized PCs, cell phones, and desktops.
"You can be stuck in a cab and do a bank transaction, conduct a trade, or buy holiday gifts from your hand," said Steven Morlock, chief technology officer of the Burlington, Mass., company.
Two other companies said this week they would begin offering banking transactions on wireless devices. Denver-based cavion.com, a provider of Internet services to credit unions, and Atlanta-based nFront, a provider of Internet banking software, both said wireless devices would let them extend their philosophies of enabling banking anywhere, anytime.
"Our cell phone and palm-pilot Internet banking products allow customers to do anything on a wireless device, like move money from one account to another and check balances," said David J. Selina, president and chief executive officer of cavion.
Mark Zohar, a senior analyst at Forrester Research in Cambridge, Mass., said, "The first trickle of mobile Internet services is starting to unfold in the United States."
He expressed skepticism about the ability of mobile devices to deliver banking information. To be successful, mobile devices must be timely, simple to use, location-relevant, and personalized, he said.
Mobile banking doesn't fill the bill, Mr. Zohar said. "Consumers will not be getting timely and time-sensitive banking information."
In addition, banking transactions are more complex and have bigger security issues, he said, and there is not a lot of opportunity for personalization.
"You can just find an ATM," he said.