Where Has Mobile Banking Gone Mainstream?

How badly do consumers want mobile banking? It depends on which U.S. city you're talking about. This study takes a look at varying levels of interest in mobile banking for 12 major metro markets.

In 2009, 8% of shoppers on FindABetterBank indicated they “must have” mobile banking with their new checking account. By March 2014, that number grew to 30% — nearly quadruple. However, significant differences emerge when you break the data down at a local level. For example, research in March 2014 revealed that only 22% of shoppers from Detroit demand mobile banking compared to 39% of shoppers from Baltimore — almost twice as many. mobile_banking_interst_by_US_city_market

These localized differences demonstrate the challenge bank and credit union marketers have using national market research studies to inform their marketing plans for customer acquisition — which are executed on the ground in local markets. As it relates mobile banking, we find three main factors influence demand from active bank shoppers at a local level:

1.) Demographics. Understanding the demographic composition of each market is essential when looking at demand for mobile banking because mobile banking correlates with age, income and education. Baltimore is a much better market for mobile banking than Detroit. According to US Census data, compared to Detroit, Baltimore has a higher percent of Gen-Y consumers, higher incomes, more education and lower unemployment. Also, the population in Baltimore is growing and the population in Detroit is declining.

2.) Competition. Frank Sinatra says winning in NYC is the mark of champion. But on FindABetterBank, shoppers from Chicago are the most demanding. On average, they indicate more must-have requirements than shoppers in any other market – consistently, month-after-month. When we investigated this finding, we found that there are more national and regional banks with branches in Chicago than other large markets. Shoppers in markets with a lot of competition are pickier than shoppers in markets with less competition.

3.) Media/Advertising. Ad campaigns and promotions play a role influencing demand within a local market. In Q4 2013, a national bank advertised using mobile banking messages in a specific market with TV, print and online ads. During the campaign, the percent of shoppers on from that market who must have mobile grew from 22% to 27% on FindABetterBank. However, two months after the campaign was over, the percent that must have mobile in that market declined to 24%.

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