As Mobile Surges, What’s the Role of Web Banking?

Consumers have embraced banking apps as their main banking channel, even choosing their primary institutions based on user experience. At the same time, customers say that their apps still lag banking websites for some transactions and needs. How can banking sites play to these strengths?

Digital banking solutions, specifically mobile and web-based platforms, have gained widespread adoption in the past ten years, as bank branches become less and less utilized. However, a pertinent question arises: Are consumers still actively utilizing web banking services, or has mobile banking emerged as the dominant preference, rendering web banking obsolete? Should banking institutions favor, innovate and push one platform over the other?

In research exclusive to The Financial Brand conducted by Rivel in March 2024, among a national sample of banking consumers, mobile banking usage is a clear favorite with 58% using their phone to bank most or all the time. The numbers are even more stark when Rivel looks at the results by generation: 33% of Millennials use their mobile app exclusively and Gen Z comes in at 38% mobile app primary usage.

A Crazy Stat:

A shocking 14% of Baby Boomers do not use their bank's digital tools at all.

How are banks preparing for the slow decline of the web interface and how can they effectively position their mobile solutions?

Forcing Banks into the Digital Age

Rising interest rates in the past 24 months have created more options for consumers to make the most of their savings, creating a bidding war among banking institutions. Meanwhile, nontraditional, digital-first players are becoming more attractive thanks to their user-friendly interfaces, high rates and low barriers of entry.

As financial institutions struggle with paying high interest to their own customers, they desire a greater share of wallet in return. According to McKinsey’s 2023 Global Banking Annual Review, the banking sector in the United States (as in Europe), is facing challenges in generating cost of capital, pushing banks to adopt innovative technologies and transform their business models to stay competitive. Mobile banking is leading the charge of scaling up to meet consumer demand and driving back the overall cost of delivery.

Through Rivel Banking Research’s early 2024 findings, we see the divide is clear on preference: 43% of consumers are utilizing their mobile tools more than 10 times per month, while web is only used by 18% more than 10 times per month.

Truly Differentiating Your Value

Banks must prioritize not just the functionality of digital banking, but also the overall user experience. Are the key transactions seamless on your mobile app? Do potential customers understand the ease of use your platform offers? It is crucial for banks to differentiate themselves in a crowded market by ensuring their digital interfaces are not only robust, but also intuitive and user-friendly. This approach will not only retain current customers but also attract new ones by highlighting the superior ease and efficiency of their digital services.

Same Old, Same Old:

49% of banking consumers — in each age and income group — agree that, in their experience, most banking websites and apps are pretty much the same.

The perception of your technology is everything when looking to grow and compete with local, national and an increasing number of online-only banking options. 63% of banking consumers said it is essential that a bank’s web and mobile app have a high ease of use and robust functionality when deciding where to manage their money. However, only 59% of consumers in Rivel’s research on behalf of The Financial Brand agreed that their primary bank updates and improves its website and mobile app regularly. Are banks not updating their technology enough to keep up with their competitors?

As seen below, the overall experience for consumers utilizing both mobile and web interfaces has room for improvement. The web experience trails mobile apps for consumer ability to simply find needed information. The immediate preference might be stronger for the mobile app due to convenience, clarity and simply having one’s phone on hand.

The most apparent opportunity is for banking institutions to provide help on demand effectively. When someone does need help, an improved and reliable chat feature on the mobile side can truly allow a consumer to do all their banking on the phone. 70% of US consumers are likely to use a chat app for banking if their institution offers it.

Top two box (Strongly and mostly agree) Mobile app Web interface
I can easily find information I need 80% 69%
I can log on and access my accounts easily 79% 74%
I can easily locate an email or phone number if I need help 65% 56%
I can easily get help through the chat feature if I need it 59% 57%

Consumers are looking for ease-of-use and convenience in not only which tool they choose, but with which financial institution they do business. Rivel’s research shows that for deposit products, consumers are getting what they need most out of mobile apps, while loan and investment products are split more between interfaces.

Banks that are constantly innovating their offerings on the digital side will have an advantage with customers looking for a new primary bank, especially as they market their advancements proudly and distinctively show the features that are unique and impactful.

chart showing whats the most convenient way for you to bank

Relationships Still Matter

In today’s banking landscape, the choice often extends beyond web versus mobile — it’s a matter of digital versus in-person services. Rivel’s late 2023 research indicates a nuanced customer preference: while 55% of consumers opt for in-person assistance from bankers for complex tasks like wire transfers or opening new accounts, the majority (63%) prefer handling routine transactions such as check deposits or bill payments online — with only 19% seeking personal help.

This preference for digital solutions spans various age groups and income levels, with 71% of younger generations favoring online methods for everyday banking, yet 45% still appreciating assistance for less familiar activities. This data prompts a critical question for financial institutions: are they adequately equipped to meet both the digital and direct service needs of their customers?

Rivel Banking Research found that 47% of consumers preferred to get help or questions answered by a person. The Accenture 2023 Banking Consumer Study highlights that while customers value in-person interactions for significant transactions, there is a strong shift toward digital channels for everyday banking needs.

This suggests customers are moving away from traditional relationship banking and more toward digital interactions. While AI is improving and user-friendly tools are becoming more common every day, most consumers do not yet have the experience or confidence to find answers themselves. A key consideration for banks is to meet their current — and future — customers where they are in terms of service channels.

This year, The Financial Brand and Rivel have partnered to bring banking professionals exclusive primary research and analysis on US banking consumers, on a monthly basis. For more information on Rivel Banking Research’s benchmarking, market opportunity highlights, and on-hand brand perception insights for your institution, contact: Corey Wrinn, Managing Director, Rivel Banking Research at [email protected]

This article was originally published on . All content © 2024 by The Financial Brand and may not be reproduced by any means without permission.