Mobile banking on the rise predominantly among the youth

By April 06, 2013
person holding a smartphone saying mobile banking

Mobile banking is catching on fast in the United States, but the main adopters are still to be found in the younger age brackets.


Consumers in the United States are increasingly turning to mobile devices to make payments, purchase goods and manage their bank accounts. A survey carried out last November on behalf of the Federal Reserve Boardand published recently reveals that the use of mobile phones to access financial services – checking bank accounts, making payment transfers, etc – became more prevalent during 2012. The survey responses indicate that 28% of all mobile phone owners and 48% of smartphone owners had used mobile banking by end-November 2012, up from 21% and 42% respectively reported in the Federal Reserve Board’s first Survey of Consumers’ Use of Mobile Financial Services, fielded in December 2011. However, the figures show significant disparities in adoption between different population groups, with a particularly sharp difference between age brackets: a disproportionate percentage of young people make use of mobile banking services relative to their ownership of mobile phones.

Younger age groups are more avid adopters…

Young people are clearly out in front when it comes to mobile banking. Respondents aged between 18 and 29 account for 39% of mobile banking customers, although they represent just over 22% of mobile phone owners. The 30-44 age bracket adds a further 36% of mobile banking users, though only 27% of all mobile device owners are in this population band. Meanwhile, the 45-59 year-olds also make up 27% of all mobile device owners in the United States, but represent only 19% of mobile banking adopters. Lastly, the over-60s age group also shows a high degree of mobile phone ownership – 24% of the total – but a mere 8% of those who say they have used mobile banking services are to be found in this population band. Two linked factors go some way towards explaining these figures. Firstly, young people are more likely than their elders to have a smartphone and smartphone owners make up fully 48% of those who have used mobile banking services over the previous 12 months. Secondly, young US Americans are for the most part already familiar with online banking and so perhaps more inclined to move on to mobile banking.

... and in general expect more from their bank

Although generation Y is keen on mobile banking, they are still eager to see improvements in their online services and mobile banking services. The Ernst&YoungGlobal Consumer Banking Survey 2012 set out to discover what are the main priorities for young people aged 18 to 24 in their banking relations. Some 13% reported that they wanted to see an improvement in payment methods, while 12% said better online banking and mobile banking services were a priority for them. However the security factor remains one of the criteria that determine whether customers choose to adopt mobile banking or not. According to the Ernst&Young survey, greater confidence in security would encourage 78% of the young people polled to make greater use of mobile banking. According to the same study, general satisfaction towards mobile banking services is improving, globally: the number of respondents that are satisfied or very satisfied of their mobile banking service went from 44% in 2011 to 58% in 2012. 

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