13 February 2016

Americans embrace mobile banking but the branch makes comeback

26 August 2014  |  9053 views  |  8 Bank Branch Desk with Customer 2

The Internet continues to be America's most popular banking channel but is losing ground to mobile, ATMs and even branches, according to an ABA survey.

Of 1000 US adults polled for the ABA (American Bankers Association) by Ipsos Public Affairs, 31% say that the Web is their preferred banking method, making it the most popular channel. However, this represents a sharp fall off from the 39% recorded in 2013.

In contrast, despite regular reports of its demise, the branch appears to be making a comeback, picked as the preferred banking method by 21% of respondents, up from 18% the previous year. ATMs saw a similar rise, up to 14% from 11%.

Mobile banking is snapping at the heels of its more established rivals, though, proving the channel of choice for 10% of those quizzed, up from eight per cent the previous year.

The telephone is number one for seven per cent, while six per cent pick the mail, down a percentage point on 2013.

Nessa Feddis, SVP, ABA, says: "When people are conducting a complex transaction like opening an account or applying for a home or business loan, they often prefer to do it in person. We're seeing a branch renaissance in some areas, with many banks transforming their branches to become more efficient and customer-friendly."

Feddis also says that bank investment in technology means that customers are able to manage their accounts anytime and anywhere and therefore absolute preferences are becoming increasingly meaningless because people are using a mix of options - online, mobile, branch and ATM.

Comments: (8)

Brett King
Brett King - Moven - New York | 26 August, 2014, 10:25

The data is misleading here. Between 2008 and 2014 the annual average number of visits per customer has declined across US branches from 4.8 times a year, to just 2.3 times per year. That is NOT an increase in case anyone is counting, it is in fact a greater than 50% decrease in branch activity.

Survey's on preferences are not what bankers should be watching. ACTUAL visits to the branch are actually a better statistic for predicting customer behavior. 

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Hitesh Thakkar
Hitesh Thakkar - Payments Consulting Network - Mumbai | 26 August, 2014, 11:35

Sample size of 1000 is pretty small number for geography of US. It looks like 3 to 5 customers per state or 4 to 5 guys in top 20 cities.

How can a interfence drawn from such small data may not reflect true picture? isn't it?

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Derek Corcoran
Derek Corcoran - Avoka - Denver | 26 August, 2014, 12:56

I'm struggling to see how this data could be correct. 


6% of respondents...60 people...say "mail" is their #1 preferred channel for interacting with their bank. Seriously? 

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Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune | 26 August, 2014, 15:50

It would be interesting to know whether the use of good old NetBanking from tablets and smartphones is counted under Internet Banking or Mobile Banking.

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Danny Tang
Danny Tang - IBM - Los Altos | 26 August, 2014, 18:32

According to ABA's own press release, the question asked was "Which method do you use most often to manage your bank account(s)?" (http://www.aba.com/Press/Pages/082014ConsumerSurveyMobileBanking.aspx)

I think "manage" and "use" are two different things.  People may use mobile banking frequently but often just to get a quick glance of balance or initiate a payment.  It shouldn't be a surprise that the top 2 channels where surveyees manage their finances are internet banking and branch.

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Alex Letts
Alex Letts - Ffrees - Sheffield | 26 August, 2014, 18:54

Presumably this research was done by the same insightful geniuses who told Heineken's CMO that the ad line "Refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach" was a complete dog. Utter drivel.

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Colin Henderson
Colin Henderson - Bankwatch Consulting - Canada | 27 August, 2014, 04:27

This is a very weak, unfocussed and self-interested survey.  

After discussing 'managing finances' they make statements about branches and ATM's in the same context.  They use words such as "When people are conducting a complex transaction", then get into 'preferred banking method" in the next sentence, talking about ATM. 

Brett's commet about volumes by channel is all that matters.  Is someone suggesting "branches gain popularity" as in the ABA news release?

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Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune | 27 August, 2014, 13:13

All's well that ends well - to me, the last line "absolute preferences are becoming increasingly meaningless" is the key takeaway.

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