Fed study: ‘Consumers and Mobile Financial Services 2016’

Mobile banking use continued to rise last year as smartphone adoption grew and consumers were increasingly drawn to the convenience of mobile financial services, according to a Federal Reserve Board report, “Consumers and Mobile Financial Services 2016,” released on Wednesday.

The report documents consumers’ use of mobile phones — including Internet-enabled smartphones as well as less sophisticated feature phones — in financial activities.

As of November 2015, 43 percent of adults with mobile phones and bank accounts reported using mobile banking — an increase of 4 percent from the prior year’s survey.

The most common way that consumers use mobile banking is to check account balances or recent transactions, followed by transfer of funds between accounts.

More than half of mobile banking users received an alert from their FI via text message, push notification, or email — making alerts the third most common use of mobile banking.

Consumers who have adopted mobile banking appear to use it as a complement to other banking channels.

Among mobile banking users with smartphones, 54 percent cited the mobile channel as their third most-preferred way to interact with their bank, following online (65 percent) and ATM (62 percent) channels.

Use of mobile payments continues to lag behind mobile banking. Twenty-four percent of mobile phone users and 28 percent of smartphone users made a mobile payment in the 12 months prior to the survey.

Smartphone owners who reported making mobile payments said they used the facility most often to pay bills, purchase a physical item or digital content remotely, and pay for something in a store.

Younger adults, Hispanics and non-Hispanic blacks reported the highest use of mobile banking and payments. Smartphone ownership was higher for Hispanics than for non-Hispanic whites in the survey.

The majority of consumers using mobile banking and payments cited convenience or getting a smartphone as their main reason for adoption. Those who opted out of mobile banking cited a preference for other methods of banking and making payments, and concerns about security.

Security and privacy of personal information continue to be concerns among mobile phone users; the majority of smartphone users reported taking actions that can reduce harm, such as installing updates, password-protecting the phone, and customizing privacy settings.

This was the Fed’s fifth annual look at how consumers use mobile phones for mobile banking, payments, money transfer and mobile payments. Online consumer research firm GfK said more than 2,500 respondents completed the study Nov. 4-23, 2015.

The 2016 report and a video summarizing the survey’s mobile financial services findings may be found at: http://www.federalreserve.gov/communitydev/mobile_finance.htm.

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