NU Online News Service, Mar. 7, 11:05 a.m. – More than 7 million U.S. consumers could be using wireless banking services on a regular basis by 2005, up from 500,000 in 2001, according to an analyst at Gartner Inc., Stamford, Conn.

Many experts remain skeptical about the idea of consumers handling banking transactions or reallocating 401(k) plan assets through hand-held computers.

Only 15% of the consumers who now use wireless applications call the interaction satisfactory, Gartner notes in its new wireless banking services report.

But Brad Adrian, the author of the report, says the situation should turn around in 2003, as wireless applications begin to live up to Americans’ expectations.

Today, he says, consumers in Western Europe and Japan are bigger users of wireless Internet services, in part because wired services have been slower to spread in those markets.

Only the largest U.S. brokerages, and about 8% of large and midsize U.S. banks, now offer wireless services, but offerings are likely to expand, because the percentage of U.S. consumers who have wireless devices is starting to reach critical mass, Adrian says.

Many U.S. consumers will soon use wireless financial services to receive and pay bills, make cashless purchases, apply for credit and services that require identity validation, and get cash from ATMs and live tellers, Adrian predicts.