A new study from J.D. Power has found that direct banks outperform traditional ones in customer satisfaction and mobile experience, but they may be losing their luster — creating potential opportunities for branch-based credit unions and other financial institutions.

The survey of 2,709 customers found that overall satisfaction score for direct banks, which operate solely online and don’t have branches, was 57 points higher on a 1,000-point scale than for traditional branch-based retail banks. But the survey also found that the gap in satisfaction with the mobile experience is narrowing between direct and traditional banks, and less than half (43%) of the people who use direct banks consider them their primary banks.

“Direct banks have traditionally occupied a niche of the retail banking marketplace where they serve mainly as secondary banks with competitive products and strong digital- and phone-based tools that drive high levels of customer satisfaction,” J.D. Power Financial Services Consultant Bob Neuhaus said. “However, these banks still represent less than 10% of industry deposit share and they are experiencing some deterioration in customer satisfaction with customer understanding and mobile offerings. If they want to evolve from a secondary to a primary bank relationship, they need to focus on cross-channel consistency and ramp up their digital capabilities.”

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Tina Orem

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