Citi study shows mobile banking is vital to consumers

| by Will Hernandez
Citi study shows mobile banking is vital to consumers

iStock illustration.

In today's digital world, the majority of bank executives from both small and large financial institutions realize how vital it is to have an engaging and useful mobile presence for their customers.

And for those executives who have yet to grasp just how necessary that presence is for today's digital consumer, consider one interesting nugget of information from Citi's second annual mobile banking study:

  • Of the 2,000 U.S. adults surveyed, mobile banking app use ranked third (31 percent) behind only social media (55 percent) and weather apps (33 percent), respectively.

That particular data point supports a couple of high-level views bankers have uttered at industry conferences the last two years as brands put more emphasis on the digital customer experience: 

  1. A mobile banking app can be a central point in a consumer's digital life.
  2. Banks now more than ever are competing against non-financial institutions such as social media companies, retailers and others (think Uber) when it comes to providing an ideal mobile experience.

"Some of the [survey results] were validation of where things are going while other things were really interesting to me, such as the acceleration of mobile banking in people's lives," Alice Milligan, Citi's chief digital client experience officer, U.S. consumer bank, told industry media during a luncheon Tuesday in New York City ahead of the study's official release.

Wakefield Research conducted the survey on behalf of Citi with 2,000 U.S. adults over the age of 18 between Feb. 22-28 using an email invitation and an online survey.

Milligan said in Citi's case, mobile banking use in North America rose almost 25 percent in the last year.

She attributed the increase to the bank's two-pronged approach to adding new features. 

Citi will add and enhance mobile banking app features based on the volume of customers interacting with something as simple as viewing account balances or paying bills. 

The bank also will add features, such as payment card replacement, that have an "emotional importance" to customers, Milligan said.

"There may be something that is not high volume like replacing a lost or stolen card," she said. "That isn't happening all the time, but if we get it wrong, it's something that people will remember. If we get it right, it's something that people remember as well."

The other prong to Citi's approach is repetition. 

"We have a strong strategy around driving awareness of digital use and engagement," Milligan said. "Whenever we launch a new feature, we're telling customers [before, during and after it launches]. Doing that frequently keeps things top of mind with people."

As far as general mobile banking habits from consumers across the nation, Milligan highlighted three trends from the survey.

Firstly, survey respondents believed they benefited from the convenience offered to them from mobile banking.

On average, respondents estimated they save some 45 minutes a month because mobile banking enables them to check their finances from the couch (75 percent), in bed (47 percent) or at their desk at work (36 percent).

Citi even tossed in a stat about how 19 percent of the millennials who took the survey said they used mobile banking while on a date.

Secondly, consumers' trust in financial institutions also remains high, which is a reoccurring theme in similar surveys.

Citi's found that 87 percent of respondents would trust a traditional bank handling their financial information over a non-bank financial institution. 

Milligan said this is something the banking industry should recognize more as fintech companies continue to put pressure on traditional financial institutions with innovative offerings via digital channels.

"I think that's an advantage for traditional banks as we keep pace and continue to evolve with new technology to help customers solve their problems," she said. 

Finally, Milligan highlighted how mobile banking users are confident about their finances based on the ability to quickly access their information.

Some 91 percent of respondents believed they have experienced positive outcomes from mobile banking, including greater awareness of their financial situation (82 percent); fewer concerns about managing finances (41 percent); and a better understanding of the services their bank offers (58 percent).

How a bank such as Citi continues to give their customers good vibes about mobile banking is an area Milligan is focused on, particular as younger consumers enter the financial mainstream. 

Innovation will be the key. 

"Innovation is critically important," Milligan said. "There is a baseline expectation in trying to align how innovation continues to evolve so that the mobile app stays a part of [a customer's life]

"We need to live and breathe banking so that our customers don't have to. They should be able to feel comfortable to bank when they need to and bank when they want to."


Topics: Mobile Banking, Trends / Statistics

Companies: Citi



Will Hernandez
Will Hernandez has 14 years of experience ranging from newspapers to wire services and trade publications. Before becoming Editor of MobilePaymentsToday.com, he spent two years as the content manager for PaymentsJournal.com, a leading payments industry news aggregator and information hub published by Mercator Advisory Group. Will spent four years covering the payments industry as an associate editor for multiple publications in SourceMedia's Payments Group based in Chicago. View Will Hernandez's profile on LinkedIn

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