The growing popularity of such smartphones as Apple Inc.'s iPhone and Research in Motion Ltd.'s BlackBerry, combined with the increased use of SMS text-messages, have contributed to the rise of mobile banking and mobile payments, industry experts say.

The number of U.S. cellular service subscribers will increase to 322 million by 2013 from 291 million in 2009, according to data supplied by the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association that will appear in the 2010 edition of the ATM&Debit News EFT Data Book, which will publish as the newsletter's Sept. 24 issue.

Mobile operators and financial institutions are recognizing these trends. The recent growth in partnerships involving mobile-banking technology companies, payment card networks and financial institutions signals that each wants to advance mobile banking and mobile payments into mainstream use.

Bank of America Corp. this year has touted the fact that more than 2 million of its customers use its mobile-banking application. The Charlotte, N.C.-based bank has 35% of the market share of mobile-banking customers, according to figures supplied for the data book by marketing research company ComScore Inc. JPMorgan Chase & Co. follows with a 12% share, followed by Well Fargo & Co. with 9%, Citigroup Inc. with 5%, and BB&T Corp. and PNC Financial Services each with 2%, the data show.

USAA, which was not included in ComScore's data, quickly is making a name for itself in the mobile-banking space with its innovative use of technology. Last month, the San Antonio-based financial institution launched a platform that enables customers to deposit funds into their bank accounts using check images captured with the cameras on their iPhones. Users deposited $1.5 million during the first three days the service became available.

USAA says it has more than 1 million mobile-banking users. Some 70,000 customers either have downloaded or have updated the financial institution's application to their iPhones.

Fiserv Inc. also is evaluating a check-imaging system that enables consumers to deposit check funds using images of the drafts captured with the cameras on their mobile phones. But Fiserv still is trying to determine whether it should position Mitek Systems Inc.'s Mobile Deposit software as a remote-deposit product or as a mobile-banking product.

Rod Springhetti, Brookfield, Wis.-based Fiserv's vice president of business planning for global payment solutions, says he is confident it will find an audience. "I was convinced very early that the technology is very plausible," he told ATM&Debit News sister publication American Banker in August. "It's very exciting, it's very innovative." Not all consumers write checks, but "every socioeconomic group receives checks," Springhetti says.

Though financial institutions have not charged their customers for online or mobile banking, some small-business owners might be willing to pay for such services, the results of a recent Aite Group LLC survey suggest.

Roughly 50% of surveyed small-business owners stated it would be acceptable for financial institutions to charge fees for some online and mobile-banking services, states the report "The ROI of Small-Business Mobile Banking." Specifically, 27% of respondents would be willing to pay for mobile-banking services, 35% for remote-deposit services and 31% for electronic invoicing.

Of the respondents willing to pay for mobile-banking capabilities, 15% would be willing to pay between $5 and $10 per month, 3% would pay between $11 and $15 per month, 4% would pay between $16 and $20 per month, and 5% would pay between $21 and $26 per month.

Boston-based Aite says it surveyed 283 U.S. small businesses in July for the report.

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