Mobile banking still dominates banks' application development projects, an American Banker survey shows.

The survey of the American Banker Executive Forum found that 42% of banks currently offer mobile banking or mobile payments. And among those that don't, 40% have firm plans to offer them within the next 12 months.

Large banks are leading the way — 76% offer mobile banking today, and of those that don't, 54% plan to introduce mobile banking in the next year. Most of these bank apps (91%) are geared to consumers; half are meant for small-business clients.

Demand from iPhone- and Android-toting customers has compelled banks to offer mobile services. The return on investment for banks has never been completely clear. A mobile banking session is far cheaper than a branch transaction, but the opportunities for cross-selling are fewer.

What banks most hope to get out of mobile app development projects, according to the survey of 303 senior bank managers, is stronger customer relationships. (The survey was conducted in partnership with TSYS, Tata Consultancy Services and Jack Henry Associates.) Eighty-seven percent of respondents said the hope of strengthening customer ties is driving their development of mobile banking apps. Seventy-one percent cited competitive pressure. Surprisingly, only 55% said that moving transactions to lower-cost channels was a driver and 53% cited new relationship acquisition.

What's holding back the nonadopters? Security is the top concern; 77% percent said security was the most significant barrier to the growth of mobile banking. Half (49%) said cost was an issue.

Asked what types of mobile banking apps are most important for a bank to offer, 77% said information reporting (letting customers check balances and transactions on their mobile device), 73% said text alerts, 64% said mobile funds transfers and 58% said the ability to set up recurring bill payments by phone.

The American Banker Executive Forum is a community of banking and payments executives who share opinions with the editorial and research groups at American Banker.