Other new ideas coming to mobile banking include opening new accounts and helping consumers when they shop.
New accounts are trickier in the mobile world because the bank has to be sure with whom it’s dealing. And the customer needs to sign a signature card.
Wetherington said some banks’ apps include opening a new account.
Commerce already opens new accounts online and sees potential for the same and other kinds of mobile services on tablets such as the iPad. The larger screen makes more complex steps easier, for example answering questions to verify your identity.
Peper at U.S. Bank said its app is adding features using photos now, and voice-activated features will be next.
Bank of America stretches mobile banking in ways few others have.
It has mobile banking apps for Windows phones and BlackBerry devices, not just the widely used iPhone, which uses Apple’s operating system, and the many devices that use Google’s Android system.
Tetrault at Commerce said the mobile experience could be broader on a tablet than a phone because of the additional “real estate” available on its larger screen.
There’s one other important feature for banking apps that consumers will have to develop: confidence.
The Fed survey found security concerns high among those cellphone users who had not done any mobile banking.
They fear losing their phones or someone stealing them and jumping into their bank accounts. They fear that someone could intercept their data or hack into their phones.
Legitimate concerns, Wetherington said. Consumers need to know — or more precisely, need to be told — how to secure their phones and use the apps safely.
For example, use the password protection feature that locks your phone with a password or number. Hackers might crack that shield, Wetherington said, but it will at least take time.
And that’s time enough to call the toll-free number of your wireless phone company (on a borrowed phone, obviously, and assuming you know the number) so it can suspend service to your missing phone and take further action if needed.
Avoid using the banking app — or any others that involve personal information — on open Wi-Fi networks, like the one at McDonald’s or Starbucks. Wi-Fi is popular because it is faster than mobile phone networks, but the network needs to be secure to protect passwords and other information you type in.
And look for the image of a closed padlock when you sign into a Wi-Fi network.
Miami Herald staff writer Ina Paiva Cordle contributed to this report.