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Millennials Embrace Mobile Banking

Those ages 18 to 34 are more than twice as likely to bank on their phones as baby boomers

August 18, 2015 | Demographics | Mobile | Financial Services

Millennials are adopting mobile banking at a much higher rate than their parents and grandparents. According to eMarketer’s latest US mobile phone banking usage forecast, nearly 59% of 18-to-34-year-old mobile phone users in the country will access their bank, credit union, credit card or brokerage account via mobile browser, app or SMS on their phones at least monthly this year. In contrast, fewer than 28% of baby boomer mobile phone users will use mobile banking in 2015.

US Adult Mobile Phone Banking Users and Penetration, by Select Generation, 2014-2019

“Having real-time mobile access to personal financial information is a baseline expectation among millennials today, which helps explain why this cohort comprises the largest share of US mobile banking users. But many baby boomers still haven’t made the jump,” said eMarketer analyst Bryan Yeager.

Baby boomers have been slower to adopt mobile phone banking for several reasons. Many prefer to access their accounts using larger-screen devices such as tablets and desktops. And while both millennials and boomers think banking via desktops is more secure than banking on mobile phones, that concern is not keeping millennials on the sidelines.

“Marketing and education around the security aspect of mobile financial access could help move the needle with adoption among the baby boomer audience,” added Yeager.

Within brick-and-mortar branches, banks are also trying to convert baby boomers into mobile customers. Tellers are often trained to show customers how to download and use mobile banking apps.

US Adult Digital Banking Users and Penetration, by Select Generation, 2014-2019 (millions, % change and % of internet users in each group)

“With a growing mobile phone banking user base on track to reach more than half the US adult population by 2019, more banks and other financial firms are treating their apps and sites as the primary point of engagement with customers. They’re also experimenting with ways to cross-sell other relevant financial products, upsell to premium services and even acquire new customers entirely through the mobile channel,” said Yeager.

While baby boomers have been much slower to embrace technology for their banking needs, the gap between boomers and millennials narrows when examining digital banking as a whole. By the end of this year, eMarketer predicts, 74.2% of US adult millennial internet users will bank digitally via any device, vs. 59.4% of baby boomer internet users.

US Adult Digital Banking Users and Penetration, 2014-2019

Overall, digital banking user growth is slowing among both groups as the activity matures.

eMarketer’s forecasts and estimates are based on an analysis of quantitative and qualitative data from research firms, government agencies, media firms and public companies, plus interviews with top executives at publishers, ad buyers and agencies. Data is weighted based on methodology and soundness. Each eMarketer forecast fits within the larger matrix of all its forecasts, with the same assumptions and general framework used to project figures in a wide variety of areas. Regular re-evaluation of available data means the forecasts reflect the latest business developments, technology trends and economic changes.

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