For more than a decade, banks have used digital touchpoints to provide more convenience to customers, and, in turn, wring operational costs out from common transactions like bill payments and account transfers. This strategy has worked; online banking use is pervasive, and mobile banking continues to grow rapidly. More consumers are even opting to use direct banks—institutions that serve customers via the internet without any physical locations.
Retail banking has now reached an inflection point. While closing branches might be a short-term fix to trim costs, many customers still show a strong preference for having convenient access to a physical banking center, especially when seeking out financial advice or performing more complex, emotionally involved transactions.
An omnichannel approachóserving and engaging with customers in an "anytime, anywhere" fashion—is being touted as a way to give banks of all types and sizes more flexibility to meet consumers' constantly evolving preferences.
For many US consumers, digital channels have become the primary touchpoints through which they pay bills, move money and manage their finances. While online banking through a desktop or laptop remains a popular route for consumers, mobile banking continues to pick up steam as banks try to meet the needs of on-the-go customers.
Comparative estimates for online banking adoption in the US vary depending on the scope and methodology used by the researcher. Surveys without prerequisites for respondents with a bank account tended to show lower online banking adoption when compared with those that did. The Pew Internet & American Life Project in May 2013 had the lowest adoption rate for online banking, at 61% of internet users; it also used phone surveys to minimize channel bias in its methodology.
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