Johannesburg - Cellphone banking has surged in the past year as South African consumers gain confidence in their handheld devices as a tool for both communications and efficiency, according to the Mobility 2011 research project.
Conducted by World Wide Worx and backed by First National Bank, the research found that, among urban cellphone users, 44% use cellphone banking services, compared with 27% a year earlier.
In smaller centres and towns 27% use cellphone banking, suggesting that users in rural areas are lagging urban users by about a year in take-up of these services.
In total, 37% of South Africans in urban and rural areas aged 16 and older are banking via their cellphones.
According to FNB, its predominant customer base resides within the mainstream market - 65% of its customer base of 2.6 million users earn less than R100 000 a year and are between the ages of 18 and 40.
"Cellphone banking is becoming the preferred alternative as people across the board are driven by the 'anywhere, anytime' concept of banking," said Ravesh Ramlakan, chief executive of FNB Cellphone Banking Solutions.
The study found that usage of cellphone banking peaks in the 26-34 age group, at 41%, and drops to 11% in the over-45 group, with male usage far outpacing that of females, at 56% against 44%.
"While education is a factor in usage of cellphone banking, with 43% of cellphone banking users having matric, and 38% with post-matric qualifications, the biggest proportion of cellphone banking users - no less than 27% - earn less than 1 000 rand a month," it said.
The majority of cellphone banking customers still use the basic services, such as balance enquiries (78%) and notifications (58%).
However, transactional services are for the first time major components of cellphone banking services, with half of respondents buying airtime, 24% paying accounts and 17% transferring funds between accounts.