Fiserv Inc. plans to target the nation's 200 largest financial institutions with a mobile banking and payments application it is unveiling today that can deliver financial data using all three of a cell phone's capabilities.
Steve Olsen, Fiserv's group president of Internet banking and electronic payments, said the product, Fiserv Mobile Pay, offers banking services through text messaging, the wireless application protocol on a phone's browser, and a downloadable application, all managed with a single set of administrative tools.
These administrative tools also let customers enroll in mobile banking not only through the bank's Web site, but also at branches and call centers and by phone, he said.
"There are different segments of the consumer marketplace that are going to enter mobile in different ways," Mr. Olsen said in an interview Monday. "We think this will be a superior solution."
The software, from M-Com Inc. of Auckland, New Zealand, is available now for installation on a bank's own computers, he said.
A hosted version to be available by mid-2009 would likely be more attractive to Fiserv's core customer base of 8,000 community banks and credit unions, Mr. Olsen said.
Fiserv, of Brookfield, Wis., and M-Com plan to establish a joint development center in Norcross, Ga., home of Fiserv's CheckFree online bill-payment service, where they will work to integrate the M-Com platform with Fiserv's various core banking, online banking, and electronic payments systems, a project that should be completed over the next several quarters.
Mr. Olsen would not discuss financial aspects of the deal, but he said the two companies would market the mobile platform jointly in the United States and abroad.
Some major core-processing competitors to Fiserv are further along the mobile path. Metavante Technologies Inc. of Milwaukee formed a joint venture last October with the British mobile vendor Monitise PLC. Fidelity National Information Services Inc. is working with mFoundry Inc., and Open Solutions Inc. is using software from MShift Inc.
Though Fiserv had some mobile offerings in the market already — it announced a browser-based banking service in March — it wanted more capabilities, Mr. Olsen said. "We were looking for a partner who could change the mobile banking landscape."
M-Com has several major clients including ANZ Banking Group of New Zealand, Westpac Banking Corp. of Australia, and General Electric Co.'s GE Money. Washington Mutual Inc. is its marquee user in the United States.
Customer interest in mobile banking is soaring, Fiserv said. In a survey conducted for Fiserv in April, 75% of respondents said they would consider conducting banking activities using a mobile phone, compared with 49% who said that in 2006. Among the young-adult Generation Y, that share was 83%, the company said.
Twenty-three percent of mobile users said they were already using cell phones for financial services, though that included contacting a call center. Fiserv planned to release the results of the survey, which was conducted by MQA Research of Worthington, Ohio, today. MQA surveyed 1,007 consumers 18 and older who use their cell phones at least once a week.
Bruce Cundiff, a research analyst at Javelin Strategy and Research in Pleasanton, Calif., said the integrated system would provide flexibility to Fiserv's customers as they pursue their own strategies.
The unbanked or youth markets might be more receptive to banking via text message, he said, while banks seeking to serve commercial customers might prefer to promote a more robust downloadable application.
"The bank needs to figure out what its strategy is, and how to use the mobile channel to fulfill that strategy," Mr. Cundiff said. "The flexibility of the platform makes that implementation easier."
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Corrected September 9, 2008 at 6:58PM: An earlier version of this story misstated the new product's name. It is Fiserv Mobile Money. An editing error was to blame.