Why ‘Selfies’ Are Digitally Transforming Mobile Banking

The biggest difference between Millennials and other generations is their acceptance and use of technology. This preference extends to performing banking transactions, where Gen Y consumers prefer to use the camera functionality on their mobile device for their banking.

The Millennial generation’s (often maligned) love of taking selfies has not just changed the way people interact in social settings or document their vacations, it is actually transforming the way consumers conduct business through the mobile channel and is presenting a tremendous opportunity for financial institutions and mobile merchants.

As the largest age demographic in the United States today, and representing 90 percent of smartphone owners, Millennials’ spending habits have huge economic impact. Understanding Millennials’ mobile preferences is crucial for businesses in any industry that want to engage this increasingly influential generation of consumers.

For this reason, Mitek recently worked with the research firm Zogby Analytics to conduct a survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers ages 18 to 34. The survey sought to understand how Millennials are using their mobile devices for banking and commerce, what type of mobile capabilities they expect from the companies they do business with, and what they’d like to see in mobile commerce in the future.

From shopping, to banking, to making mobile payments, Millennials are not only conducting their daily business through their mobile devices, they are increasingly deciding who to do business with based on mobile capabilities. The survey found that 86% of Millennials are conducting mobile transactions, with 11% doing so daily.

Even more significantly, 42% of survey respondents said they have actually made a decision on where to spend their money, or switched companies based on what the business allows its users to accomplish with the mobile device.


While it’s no secret that today’s younger consumers love their smartphone cameras, the survey revealed that the camera is actually a driving force when it comes to Millennials’ decisions on who to do business with. An overwhelming 96 percent of survey respondents consider the camera crucial to their smartphone, with nearly 50% going so far as to say that their phones are “practically useless” without the camera.


Millennial consumers want to utilize the mobile camera more in their daily transactions. They love the convenience of taking a picture for data capture when enrolling in a new service through the mobile channel, or for verifying their identity during sensitive mobile transactions, and they want to be doing much more of it. Key findings from the survey include:

  • 68% of Millennials said that they would rather always use mobile capture instead of manually typing information on their smartphone.
  • 28% want to enroll for everything from a new credit card, to a gym membership by taking a picture of their driver’s license.
  • Mobile check deposit is the area where most Millennials had their first exposure to mobile capture functionality (68%).
  • Banking is the top industry where Millennial consumers want to see more mobile capture functionality (40%), followed by retail (30%), and a trend emerged showing that the more money Millennials’ make, the more they want mobile capture.
  • Mobile capture is growing fast. Last year, only 34% of Millennials had deposited a check by taking a picture with their smartphone camera and this year 54% report making mobile deposits.
  • 83% of Millennials think mobile capture will be part of all mobile transactions in the next five years.


The survey findings are clear: Millennials’ desire to do everything on their mobile devices is increasingly becoming a commerce disruptor and they want to digitize all commerce through their mobile camera. Businesses that want to attract Millennial consumers will need to take notice of these findings and add more mobile capture functionality to their applications and services, because simply providing a mobile app isn’t enough anymore.

Millennial consumers want to be able to quickly sign up for retail loyalty programs or other new services by simply snapping a picture of their ID – no paperwork or manual typing required. They want to authenticate and approve their mobile payments and other sensitive transactions with a selfie.


Leading companies are already taking note of this trend and incorporating mobile capture functionality into their solutions. MasterCard recently announced the introduction of “Pay by Selfie” which allows consumers to snap a picture of their face to verify their identity for mobile payments.


Other companies would do well to follow MasterCard’s lead, as the survey findings also revealed that Millennials value security in their mobile transactions and like the simplicity of taking a selfie for identity verification. Fifty-four percent said that security trumps convenience when using a mobile device and we found that Millennials are actually very reluctant to abandon mobile transactions.

But if they do, it is because the process was too slow or they had to enter too much information. The mobile camera is a remedy for both of these and as we previously noted, Millennials would rather snap a picture than ever type in information on their mobile device.


Mobile capture can help financial organizations strike the right balance between security and convenience by adding a layer of authentication that is quick and easy for users. An overwhelming 86% of respondents said they’re willing “to take a few additional steps to verify (their) identity” when opening an account or enrolling in a new service through the mobile channel and 64% felt that companies that ask them to verify their identity with a picture are protecting their account information with the latest technology.


The bottom line is that these new survey findings should serve as a wake-up call to businesses wanting to capture Millennial consumers. Simply offering basic mobile functionality is no longer enough. Millennials want to leverage their mobile cameras for more of their digital transactions and are giving their business to the companies that provide innovative and convenient camera-enabled mobile offerings

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