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Mobile a key factor in consumer banking: study

June 23, 2011

More consumers are using mobile as a factor when banking

Mobile banking is quickly becoming the future of banking statements, and a new study found that mobile is now a factor when consumers are choosing banks.

The study, which was conducted by financial consulting and research firm Mercatus LLC, reported that consumers are now using mobile platforms as a major consideration for banking. This study aligns with recent developments in financial banking.

“Where we traditionally saw mobile as only important for a younger age group, this study found that mobile is important to a broader age group than we thought,” said Teresa Epperson, partner at Mercatus LLC, Boston.

“In particular, we saw an increase in ages 26 to 44,” she said.

Mercatus LLC is a strategy and research firm that works with retail financial services.

Engaged consumers
The study demonstrates the increased levels of engagement smartphone owners have with their devices, specifically with texting, emails and Internet access.

Users also spent one-third of their time on social networking sites and almost ten percent watching downloaded videos or movies.

“The level of engagement we see with mobile devices keeps increasing, which signals an opportunity for retailers and shoppers to get engaged with users,” Ms. Epperson said.

The study found that of those consumers who switched banks this year, 39 percent of participants said that mobile was not an important factor in their banking decision – compared to 75 percent of participants who said that mobile was not important to them last year.

The study showed that the percentage of users has decreased by 36 percent – initially 75 percent and now down to 39 percent – which shows that more consumers are banking on mobile.

Ms. Epperson also said that a key theme from this year’s findings show that people who use mobile banking platforms are more likely to stay at their bank.

“We saw increased levels of retention in this year’s study and a switch in consumers using mobile devices instead of automated billing,” Ms. Epperson said.

“Additionally, consumers who are using mobile banking are less likely to switch banks,” she said.

Bank on mobile
In addition to proving that mobile banking is the way of the future, the study also suggests that mobile will continue to grow in other areas of commerce, whether it is retail or shopping.

For example, most big financial institutions, including Charles Schwab, Chase, Bank of America and ING have mobile apps that let consumers access account information on the go.

Additionally, a recent study found that consumers are looking to their smartphones first when making purchasing decisions. (see story).

“Our data shows an increase in consumer behavior with banks that are aggressive with communicating their mobile efforts and banks that have mobile capabilities but aren’t advertising it,” Ms. Epperson said

“It speaks to the importance that mobile and how customers have to know about it to take advantage of it,” she said.

“It’s not enough to just have mobile if nobody knows you have it. You have to talk it through.”

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