About a year ago, we told you about a mobile banking survey, the results of which showed that while about a third of respondents were interested in being able to perform basic banking tasks on their cell phones, only about 16 percent actually did. Part of the reason was that not many carriers, or banks, were offering any mobile banking services at that time. What a difference a year makes. In 2008, about 3.1 million Americans used mobile banking. This may not seem like much considering that more than 250 million Americans have cell phones. But when you also consider that fewer than 500,000 people used mobile banking in 2007, it becomes apparent how quickly this service is becoming an accepted part of everyday life. When you further consider that the number of mobile banking users is expected to double by the end of 2009, the service begins to become less of a convenience and more of a necessity. In order for consumers to see the value of mobile banking, banks have to be willing to offer the service in the first place. More and more banks are seeking out mobile banking agreements with major wireless carriers. A year ago, just two banks partnered with AT&T to offer mobile banking. Today, AT&T’s mobile application works on more than 30 phone models from AT&T alone, is available to members of 11 banks, and the carrier has plans to add more banks in the coming months. Bank of America has focused their mobile banking efforts on BlackBerry, iPhone and iPod, and T-Mobile’s G1 phone, which uses Google’s Android operating system. Sprint and Verizon have also launched mobile banking applications. Between the four major wireless carriers, 16 banks now offer mobile banking, including Citi, Wachovia, and Chase. In addition to standard banking services now available via mobile applications, Visa has partnered exclusively with T-Mobile to offer their Visa Mobile service to select cardholders. The service includes alerts about purchase activity, offers for discounts available only to cardholders, and a locator service that provides information on locations of merchants offering those discounts, as well as ATMs that accept Visa. The service only works on T-Mobile’s G1 phone, and only certain Chase cardholders are invited to use the service. For the time being, anyway. Even as millions of people jump on the mobile banking bandwagon, one nagging problem remains—security. As long as cell phones use SIM cards to store data, they’re hackable. The only seemingly surefire way around this is biometrics, and most cell phones are years away from incorporating such technology. The only phones that come close at this point are Apple’s iPhone and T-Mobile’s G1, which use capacitive touch, translating taps on the screen by measuring the flow of electrons through the skin. Fingerprint readers may not be far behind. And after that, digital money. Maybe in another year.