TowerGroup says 92% of US consumers still back branches

TowerGroup says 92% of US consumers still back branches

Research unveiled at TowerGroup's annual Financial Services Business and Technology Conference in Boston has shown that despite growing comfort with technology and Internet use among American consumers, bank branches and other "traditional" channels are here to stay.

The group's study captured consumer attitudes of 3033 U.S. households, concerning areas such as "traditional" financial services channels, online banking and online account aggregation.

According to the research, ninety-two per cent of all U.S. households have used a bank branch for financial services transactions within the past month (this includes lobby windows/tellers, drive-thru tellers, in-store branches and other branch employees).

While more than three quarters of U.S. households now use a PC for personal activities and more than half use the Internet, the bank branch remains the core of financial services delivery. The majority of U.S. households use either two (26%), three (24%) or four (20%) different delivery channels to conduct their financial services business.

Out of 39% of U.S. households who say that their primary financial services institution offers online banking, only 18% have used it. That number drops to 13% when respondents were asked to indicate whether they have used online banking within the past month. Among online banking users, 85% said that they have used a brick and mortar branch within the past month.

Awareness of online account aggregation continues to be low. Sixty-one per cent of total U.S. households agreed that they would "prefer to have all my accounts appear on one consolidated statement." Yet 67% of respondents from online households were not aware of the existence of online account aggregation services like Yodlee.

Michael Weil, TowerGroup's managing director of Primary Market Research, says: "Irrespective of the fact that the majority of U.S. consumers are now ready for online banking in technological terms, behaviorally they continue to be slow to migrate away from traditional channels like the local bank branch or call centers."

Mark Sievewright, TowerGroup president and CEO, comments: "A multichannel approach to delivery is critical to serving today's retail customer. The opportunity and the challenge is not only to provide the customer with these multiple access points, but to also ensure world class customer service across all available channels."

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