Mobile Banking Adoption Remains Low

Consumers like the idea of controlling their finances from a smartphone or tablet, but the number that are actually using mobile banking services remains low, according to a new survey by RateWatch.

Overall, 82% of financial institutions surveyed said they offered mobile banking services in 2014, up from 68% in 2013 -- but 77% said that less than a quarter of their customers are using mobile banking. Meanwhile just 2% of consumer respondents said mobile banking is their primary banking method, up from under 1% in 2013.

That compares to 62% who still opt for the good, old-fashioned local branch (banking in person), down from 67% in 2013, and 29% who said their primary channel is online (but not mobile), up from 24.5% in 2013. In other words the big winner is online banking, although mobile is growing fast in percentage terms.

Despite this, 70% of consumers under the age of 30 said they consider mobile banking to be a “must-have,” along with 51% of consumers over the age of 30 -- although given the low adoption rates, what they may actually be saying is that it is “nice to have,” in case they want to use it.



Interestingly, RateWatch found that credit unions are more likely than banks to have customers who use mobile banking more than once a week (68% versus 57%) as well as more customers saying online is their primary banking method (37% versus 27%).

Although mobile banking is off to a slow start, banks seem to foster more consumer trust in this area than technology companies do. Last month a survey of 4,200 U.S. households conducted by Phoenix Marketing International found two-thirds of respondents would rather use a mobile app from a bank, versus less than a third who said they would opt for Apple Pay.

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