Upgraded mobile banking apps reflect digital shift

Erin O'Neil
by Erin O'Neil, Staff Writer (@econeil)
The digital shift - jump to mobile and online banking

Last week Bank of America announced plans to roll out an upgraded version of its online services and mobile banking app, which will offer the option of mobile check deposit. The five largest banks in the United States now offer remote check deposit as part of their online platform, giving users the freedom to deposit a check 24/7 while on the go with just a few taps on their smartphone. The feature eliminates the inconvenience of one of the most time-consuming facets of banking: depositing a paper check.

Mobile banking pays dividends in both time and convenience. With increased access to digital services, millions of people can now execute basic bank transactions on their own. Paying bills, transferring cash, making deposits and keeping tabs on spending can all be initiated by the user at his or her convenience, 24/7. Customers can access services at the time and place of their choosing, reducing (or even eliminating) the need for time consuming trips to a bank branch or ATM. Mobile banking apps are also great for people who like to keep close watch over their finances by monitoring account activity. Many offer personalization features, allowing the user to customize options within the mobile banking app. Think of it as self-service banking for your iPhone.

While brick and mortar banks aren’t obsolete just yet, the digital shift to banking on the Web continues to grow. Bank of America spokesperson Tara Burke estimated that their bank alone has over 10 million users. A survey by Forrester revealed that 17% of all adults utilize online banking features. Among Generation Y users, the figure gets even higher: Over the past month, 87% of Gen Y reported using online banking. Banks will spend over one third of their digital budget on mobile banking, according to a joint survey by the Consumer Bankers Association and Forrester. Much of that budget will focus on developing mobile alerts, P2P payments and remote deposit. As demand increases, banks are pulling out all the stops to beef up their online presence and attract customers.

But there’s a downside when it comes to customer service when mobile banking features go awry. Basically, there isn’t any—or the customer service available is typically limited to 800 numbers with automated response systems. As identity theft becomes more common, there’s also an issue with security, though most banking apps require passwords and utilize encryption. And some will always prefer actual human interaction at a bank branch, which offers a warmer experience than the cold, impersonal aspect of only interacting with a computer.

Other online banking stats

  • 21% of primary checking accounts are now opened online
  • 50% of bill payments are now made using online bill pay
  • 65% of users feel online banking allows them to manage their finances more efficiently
  • Two-thirds of consumers use online banking to track spending instead of a physical check ledger
  • 44% of tablet users utilize online banking services

Sources:  FiServ  Bank of America  Consumer Bankers Association  Credit Union Times