Don’t bag the branch yet. A study of U.S. consumers’ digital habits finds that the great majority still go bricks and mortar for at least some of their banking needs.
And, according to a new Forrester Research report, only 15% of U.S. consumers have ventured into mobile banking, citing a variety of reasons for their reluctance, from security concerns to just not knowing if it’s there.
The March 21 report–"The Changing Landscape of U.S. Consumers’ Digital Banking"–noted that only 4% of U.S. consumers bank exclusively online while almost 40% use the online channel and at least one other.
"While it would be easy to assume that more consumers will flock to online banking and move away from branch or phone interactions, the truth is that consumers still have a need for these channels," said the report’s lead author, Forrester’s Jacqueline Rousseau-Anderson.
"The focus therefore shifts from giving consumers a greater experience in each single interaction to giving them a consistent experience in all interactions across all channels," Rousseau-Anderson wrote.
However, while far more consumers use a physical branch–80%– than mobile banking, the growing use of smartphones will drive quick expansion of that channel, the Forrester analyst said.
When the survey was taken late last spring, 23% of adults with a mobile phone had a smartphone, a number that has grown since then. Forrester now projects that there will be more than 42 million mobile banking U.S. adults by 2013.
"The adoption of [smartphone] technology is a clear enabler for mobile banking and, as its adoption grows, so too will the mobile banking population," Rousseau-Anderson said. "Understanding your target’s mobile behaviors will ensure you’re providing the correct mobile experience."
Right now, that experience primarily focuses on basic functions such as checking account balances and finding locations. Those relatively simple tasks can be handled by all three delivery channels, a reality perhaps reflected in the survey’s findings that 7% of the respondents use their financial institution’s mobile banking website, 6% used text banking and 4% had downloaded an app, a number that may indeed have risen, given the large number of platform-specific mobile apps by credit unions and banks in the past several months.
"U.S. consumers continue to broaden the channels they use for banking as well as deepen the way they use these channels," Rousseau-Anderson said. "While branches are still the most popular channel, online and mobile continue to grow."
The report said checking account balances continues to be the single most popular online activity, reported by 73% of the respondents. Additionally, 45% said they now transfer funds between accounts online and 35% said they have paid bills at a bank or credit union online site.
Meanwhile, 38% of the non-mobile online bankers said they "see no value in using it" and 35% said they doubt its security.