Five months after most of the United States entered a pandemic-related lockdown, consumers and businesses alike are still adjusting to the new normal. Most banks have modified their services, hours and availability to adhere to pandemic rules and guidelines. In turn, customers have had to change up their banking habits.
In fact, a new DepositAccounts survey found that most consumers are visiting their bank branches much less lately, and turning instead to mobile banking apps or websites. “It’s clear that the pandemic has forced both the young and old into remote banking as branch access has been restricted in many areas,” said Ken Tumin, founder of DepositAccounts.
But while remote banking is certainly physically safer and more convenient, it also brings a new set of worries for consumers.
- Over the last 30 days, 91% of Americans banked virtually, completing at least one banking activity online or on a mobile app. These activities ranged from checking account balances and depositing checks to sending money to peers.
- While baby boomers (81%) and members of the silent generation (86%) have adapted to remote banking, perhaps unsurprisingly, they’ve done so to a lesser extent than younger generations.
- Just over four in 10 consumers said they’re using their bank’s mobile app more often than they did prior to the pandemic.
- Across generations, this change was most noticeable in Gen X, with 57% now using their bank’s mobile app more often.
- Americans with higher household incomes use a mobile app to do their banking more often than those who earn less.
- Over half — 52% — of consumers are visiting physical banks less often amid the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, 36% have made no change to the frequency of their physical bank visits during the pandemic, and about 7% are visiting their bank branches much more often.
- The silent generation and millennials had higher rates of respondents visiting physical branches much less often, as did baby boomers.
- Additionally, about half of respondents (49%) said they would be happy never going to a physical bank branch ever again, while just under 10% strongly disagreed with that sentiment. Baby boomers and the silent generation were more likely to disagree.
Consumers turn to mobile apps to bank in a pandemic
With Americans staying indoors in an effort to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus, many are turning to remote banking. When asked how often they use their bank’s mobile app, 37% of respondents said more than once per week, which was the most common response. An additional 20% said they log in once during the week.
Tumin notes that while remote banking may diverge from many consumers’ usual habits, it offers the ability to manage your bank account without any of the health risks currently associated with visiting a branch. “That’s especially important to baby boomers and the silent generation, who are more at risk from COVID-19,” he said.
With increased app and online usage, 61% of consumers have auto-saved their password on their bank’s website or mobile app, a feature that makes it easier and faster to get to your accounts. Younger bankers are more likely to store their login information than older bankers, with 80% of Gen Z saving their banking passwords compared with just 30% of baby boomers.
Mobile banking apps aren’t the only financial apps that consumers are using either, our survey found. On average, Americans have about three finance-related mobile apps on their smartphones. Millennials have the most financial apps, with just under four (3.9) apps on average. Men are also heavy financial app users, averaging 3.6 finance-related mobile apps.
While many respondents are satisfied with their bank’s mobile app, other consumers want additional features. Most commonly, respondents would like to be able to pay for goods or services using their bank’s app, with 19% putting that on their wishlist.
Online banking raises security concerns for some consumers
With the spike in remote banking, 38% of consumers are concerned about data security. Specifically, 18% are worried about their bank accessing their browsing data, and 13% fear making a tech mistake while banking either through a mobile app or website.
Despite these worries, the second-most common response from consumers was that they don’t have any concerns about remote banking. Across generations, the silent generation was the most unbothered, with 45% not having any anxieties about remote banking. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Gen Z seemed the most concerned, with 80% noting some sort of worry related to mobile or online banking.
While a fair concern, the risk of a data breach exists at any bank regardless of your use of online or mobile banking. “Instead of avoiding online or mobile banking, it’s better to take steps to be safe when you’re using mobile banking and to understand consumer protections for bank accounts,” Tumin suggested.
DepositAccounts commissioned Qualtrics to conduct an online survey of 1,010 Americans, with the sample base proportioned to represent the overall population. We defined generations as the following ages in 2020:
- Gen Z as ages 18 to 23
- Millennials as ages 24 to 39
- Gen X as ages 40 to 54
- Baby boomers as ages 55 to 74
- Silent generation as ages 75 and older
The survey was fielded July 24-26, 2020.