NEEDHAM, Mass. (1/30/08)--The most critical driver for the successful evolution of mobile banking and mobile payments will be the ability of financial institutions and mobile operators to balance ease of use with security, according to recent research. During the next five years, mobile banking deployments will develop significantly, says Needham, Mass.-based research firm TowerGroup in its ViewPoint report, "Mobile Banking and Payments Security and Usability: What's in Your Mobile Wallet?" Although initial consumer acceptance has been "surprisingly strong," with nearly one million consumers in the U.S. using mobile banking at the end of 2007, dire consequences may result from security procedures that are either too lax or too stringent, says the report. "If consumers find registration and authentication procedures burdensome, adoption of this channel will slow," warned the report's author George Tubin. "If data security is compromised, negative publicity will quickly sow fears about the safety of banking 'over the air.'" Tubin is research director in TowerGroup's Delivery Channels and Financial Information Security practice. The report warns banks and credit unions to be wary of mobile operators who want to control the emerging mobile payments space and profit from the potential high volume of mobile payments. Consumer banks must be the central player in this burgeoning market because of their deep expertise in payments processing and maintaining trusted consumer relationships, TowerGroup said. Financial institutions will need to align their mobile banking solutions with the expectations and needs of the marketplace and ensure their central role in future deployments.