BB&T became the latest bank to roll out a new mobile banking application, giving business and consumer customers the ability to check balances and pay bills from their Android-powered smartphones and tablet PCs.

The regional bank and financial services firm launched its mobile banking suite for Research In Motion's BlackBerry and Apple's iPhone devices in 2010. The app is free and can be downloaded from BB&T's website.

With BB&T Mobile, customers can access their checking and savings accounts to check balances, transfer funds, pay bills and find the nearest BB&T location or ATM using GPS technology.

"Today's clients are always connected and require a quick, convenient way to manage their accounts and access our banking services," Howard Brooks, BB&T's electronic delivery channels manager, said in a statement.  "BB&T is committed to providing the most up-to-date enhancements in the mobile arena to meet our clients' lifestyle needs and help them make the best financial decisions based on how they wish to bank with us."

The popularity of smartphones and tablet PCs like Apple's iPad has compelled banks like BB&T and Bank of America to develop mobile applications and websites for their customers and advisors while others have lagged behind the innovation curve.

A Forrester Consulting report released earlier this month found that 13 of 15 banks and credit unions polled are currently offering some type of mobile banking platform but only one is offering direct, person-to-person payment services. Moreover, none of the 15 institutions offer either remote deposit capture or remote payments, including transactions conducted on social media sites.

Security and culture seem to be the largest barriers to comprehensive mobile banking and investment planning at this juncture and those firms who overcome their fear and anxiety first will be best positioned to grow their customer base and assets under management.

According to Mercatus LLC, more than 50% of Americans and almost 80% of those younger than 35 by 2015 will use financial services on their mobile devices. The number of people comfortable using mobile banking tools and services will more than triple over the next four years to a total of 38 million households.

To assuage some of its customers' privacy and security concerns, BB&T has set up a website called Security Central that provides security alerts, podcasts and other educational information to keep users informed of important mobile banking developments.

BB&T employs 128-bit encryption technology for its mobile banking suite and all transactions and data are secured behind multiple firewalls. It also includes an automatic inactivity logoff feature.

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