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The Evolution of Modern Banking
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The Evolution of Modern Banking

Times are changing, and today’s digital world is having widespread effects on an array of consumer behaviors, including how we handle our finances. Electronics and mobility are key trends for financial institutions to keep track of, but consumers aren’t ready to sever all ties with their local bank branches just yet.

According to Nielsen data from a custom study conducted in November 2013, the vast majority of U.S. consumers (82%) have entered the digital arena, stating that they banked online at least once in the last 30 days. The high percentage speaks to the prevalence of the digital world in consumers’ lives, especially when compared against the 68 percent of people who said they had visited a physical branch in the same period.

Mobile banking—either via tablet or smartphone—is a distant preference compared with the other more traditional channels, but it is gaining momentum. The use of call centers, however, is trending the opposite direction, making it the least-utilized channel among consumers. So the bottom line for financial institutions is that staying abreast of consumer banking preference will help maintain loyalty, engage new customers and serve consumers wherever they want to bank.

Changing Channels

But identifying banking preferences in aggregate only tells part of the story. In order to truly understand preference, financial institutions need insight into which channels consumers use for their specific banking activities. For example, banks won’t have much luck touting their automated drive-up teller technologies to customers that prefer banking via smartphone app.

In today’s world, companies and brands need to be online. And that includes banks and financial firms. In fact, 77 percent of consumers say they prefer to pay their bills online. Mobile consumers prefer checking their account balances using their smartphones or tablets, and most consumers prefer to make deposits and seek investment advice in the branch.

And when it comes to cold hard cash, there’s currently no substitute for the physicality of an ATM that dispenses paper currency—the preferred method for withdrawing money. Got a problem? That’s what the call centers are for, which is how most consumers say they seek to resolve any questions or issues they have with their accounts.

After all, there’s less benefit in trying to engage a Web-savvy consumer with a highway billboard. And the same is true when it comes to banking. If it’s not convenient or feasible for a customer, he or she is bound to find the convenience they’re looking for somewhere else. And with myriad choices available, consumers won’t have to look far to find what they’re looking for.

Methodology

The custom study was based on an online survey of U.S. consumer households in November 2013. The study included questions on channel usage, drivers of channel usage and barriers of channel usage.