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Banking Customers Still Want Human Interaction

But don’t count out mobile apps—users are there too

July 27, 2016 | Financial Services

Despite digital's growing presence in financial affairs, many banking customers in North America enjoy handling their money matters the old-fashioned way. According to research, roughly half said they plan to visit physical branches in the next two years because they have more confidence in their bank when speaking face-to-face.

Reasons that Banking Customers in North America Will Continue Using Physical Bank Branches, March 2016 (% of respondents)

In March 2016, Accenture polled 4,013 banking customers in North America about what they want from their banking relationships. A strong majority (86.7%) of that group said they expected to still use physical bank branches two years in the future.

According to the data, the top reason (49%) they would do so is because they feel more confident about their bank when speaking to someone in person. Meanwhile, others said they believe they’d receive more value through human interaction (47%), and also simply because they enjoy their bank’s overall experience (40%).

In contrast, there’s much research to suggest banking customers are also eager to make transactions through mobile apps. According to eMarketer estimates, there will be 113.5 million US adult mobile banking users in 2016, up from 104.8 the prior year. eMarketer defines mobile device banking users as those who access their bank, credit union, credit card or brokerage account through the internet via any device at least once per month, and this excludes virtual wallet services like PayPal or Google Wallet.

US Adult Mobile Device Banking Users, 2014-2019 (millions, % change and % of mobile device users)

In a separate June 2016 study from Bank of America and Braun Research, 85% of US mobile banking app users said they are going to their app to check balances or statements, followed by more than half who also said they use it to transfer money between accounts. These users were unlikely, meanwhile, to use their apps to find a physical branch.

But physical bank branches are responding to this behavior in kind by offering more digital options to their customers. Nearly two-fifths of US banking executives said that one of the primary priorities for transforming the physical bank experience was by deploying digitally enabled self-service capabilities for teller transactions, according to Q1 2016 data from KPMG.

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