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All banking to be done on wrists by 2020

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A new study finds the global number of banking apps accessed via smartwatches will reach more than 100 million by 2020.
A new study finds the global number of banking apps accessed via smartwatches will reach more than 100 million by 2020.

A new study, by Juniper Research, finds the global number of smartwatch banking apps will reach 10 million by 2017, and rise to more than 100 million by 2020.

The research paper, Worldwide Digital Banking: Mobile, Online & Wearable 2015-2020, notes banking on wearables is perceived, by many, as a gimmick at present.

However, the research firm believes that while wearables are not suited for conducting complicated financial instructions, smartwatches will become a key device in banking transaction approval in the future.

"Digital banking has experienced a substantial progression towards personalised computing," says research author Nitin Bhas. "We do believe that, keeping pace with technology evolution, wearable banking will witness a faster adoption rate than mobile banking, especially among millennials."

The research observed banks have tried to introduce a number of innovative new services, such as augmented reality banking apps. However, these generally have a short life span with consumers.

Juniper says banks will need to offer customers more targeted services, aimed at specific user needs ? using customer analytics.

In South Africa, Standard Bank and Absa have both released a banking app for the Apple Watch.

The Apple Watch was launched in SA last month. Prices range from R5 899 for the cheapest model, to R18 499 for the most expensive.

Juniper estimates over one billion mobile phone users will have used their devices for banking purposes by the end of this year. This number will double by 2020.

The study shows around 19% of global household bills will be paid via PC, tablet and mobile devices this year. Juniper forecasts the number of global online banking users next year (as a proportion of banked individuals) will cross the 50% mark.

The research firm also says SMS-based push banking services are on the decline with banks, noting a drop in average number of messages sent to mobile banking users.

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