Apps Overtake Branches in Battle for Banking

It’s official. The amount of banking we do via smartphone apps is on the rise – highlighting one major driving force behind branch closures across the country.

According to research carried out by the British Bankers’ Association (BBA), 19.6 million Britons logged into banking apps last year; an increase of 2.2 million compared to the previous year. The most common reasons for using a banking app were to see the balance of accounts (97% of all users do this). However, we also saw use of other common banking services increase, including:

  • Pay individuals (60%, up from 47%)
  • Pay bills (46%, up from 37%)
  • Transfer money (64%, up from 51%)

The study also showed that around 38% of UK adults use banking apps, and we carried out 57% more transactions in 2016 than the year before; a figure that now stands at 936 million. Or, to put it another way, that equals a staggering thirty transactions every second.

In their study, the BBA asserted that:

‘Greater choice in communication is also creating new, easier and faster interactions between customers and their banks. People can now access a range of services on their sofa, on the go or at work.’

Apps Overtake Branches in Battle for Banking

And as banking’s technology revolution continues apace, it wasn’t just apps that are seeing an increase in popularity. 36.9 million of us now use online banking via a web browser – a jump of 1.2 million. On the other hand, telephone banking has seen usage drop by one million.

The report also noted the significant growth in apps used to manage mortgages and investments – an 86% increase, while Britons using savings apps and credit card services also leap by 30% and 46% respectively.

Discussing the research, Eric Leenders, retail and commercial banking managing director at the BBA, said:

‘Customers’ appetite for using technology to manage their money on the move is showing no signs of abating, with banking apps now the principal means by which we access our current accounts. And this doesn’t appear to be a fad with more and more people moving beyond payments, increasingly using apps to access a broader range of banking services, such as savings, credit cards, mortgage and investment accounts.’

Apps Overtake Branches in Battle for Banking

However, this reliance on tech to serve our banking needs will bring little cheer to those who prefer to do their banking in person, whether they’re elderly, living in rural areas, or simply don’t have consistent internet service.

Mobile banking, for them, means something entirely different to those in cities: A bank on wheels, where customers can carry out basic transactions each week.

We’re already seeing the rise of all-in-one ATMs, which can be installed almost anywhere, and allow access to basic banking services, but if banks are serious about encouraging technology-based banking in areas not yet equipped for it, these issues need to be strongly addressed.

That’s particularly true at a time when start-up banks are using app-only banking as a selling point for the always-on, tech-savvy consumer, leaving many out in the cold.

So, an exciting time for banking – and the ways we access our money – as banks are forced, by popular demand, to grow the services they offer via apps and online.

Indeed, it’s not hard to envision a future where every aspect of banking can be performed on a smartphone, from switching accounts and opening savings to video-call one-to-ones with your bank manager.

With no signs of us reverting back to traditional banking methods, our banking app-addiction could be just beginning.

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