Mobile Banking on Rise, Physical Branches Still Important, According to New Market Force Information Study

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PNC Bank, Chase and U.S. Bank named top national banks

Banking App Adoption Rates by Age Group

By and large, consumers rated their primary banks poorly when it comes to looking after their financial wellbeing

Americans are increasingly turning to their bank’s mobile app to conduct financial tasks, but many still rely on in-person interactions when seeking financial advice or learning about services, according to a new study by Market Force Information, an innovator in customer experience management. More than 9,500 consumers were polled for the retail banking industry study, which also revealed that PNC is consumers’ favorite national bank based on satisfaction.

Banking App Downloads Up 5%
Market Force Information found that 77% of consumers whose bank offers a mobile app have downloaded it, an increase of 5% over 2015, and 12% over 2014. Those in the 18-24-year-old range have the highest adoption rate at 92%, but there are increases across all age groups. In fact, half of those over age 65 use their bank’s app. [See Graph 1]. The most prevalent app activities are checking balances and statements, transferring funds and depositing money into accounts. Very few are using the app to apply for new bank accounts or withdraw emergency cash.

“Mobile banking is gaining ground every year as people of all ages are more comfortable making transactions on their smartphones,” said Cheryl Flink, chief strategy officer for Market Force Information. “Does that mean physical banking will eventually be eradicated? Unlikely. A more likely scenario is that, similar to what we’re seeing in other retail industries, physical banks will be reinvented and have more specific, dedicated functions to service their customers in person.”

Digital Wallet – What’s That?
While mobile app use is on a fast track, digital wallet usage is growing at a slower clip. Fifty-seven percent of consumers surveyed do not know what a digital wallet is or how it is used. Only 14% are using digital wallets, a slight 2% increase from 2015, with the highest adoption rate among 25-34 year-olds. PayPal Mobile and Apple Pay are the most widely used digital wallets, and the most common activities are making payments, using “tap-and-pay” for purchases and storing a loyalty card.

Traditional Banks and Credit Unions Still Reign
Even as new technologies take hold, more than half of consumers still bank with traditional retail banks – 59% report doing so today, which represents a 4% drop from 2015. Credit unions, community banks and microfinance banks are steadily rising in popularity, with 30% opting for these financial institutions. Only 3% use an ebank with no physical branch locations. [See Graph 2].

Loyalty runs deep, with 85% of customers reporting that they’ve stayed with the same bank for three years or more. Still, 12% indicated they are considering switching primary banks in the next six months. Most said they’d switch to find lower fees or because they don’t believe their bank is improving their financial wellbeing.

“By and large, consumers rated their primary banks poorly when it comes to looking after their financial wellbeing,” said Flink. “Most retail banks are nailing the simplicity and stability messages, but missing an opportunity to differentiate through a trust message that consumers are anxious to hear.”

Advisor Wields Influence on Customer Satisfaction
Market Force found the in-person touch is still important for banking customers seeking advice or education, and it can bolster loyalty. In the past 90 days, one-fifth of respondents said they went into a branch to speak with an advisor about products and services. Those who did reported 5% higher satisfaction levels than those who didn’t, and they were 8% more likely to recommend their bank to others. [See Graph 3].

PNC Bank Top List of Favorite National Banks for First Time
To learn which banks are delivering exceptional experiences, Market Force Information asked participants to rate their satisfaction with their most recent banking experience and their likelihood to refer that national bank to others. The results were averaged to attain a Composite Loyalty Score. PNC Bank ranked No. 1 for the first time, overtaking last-year’s leader Chase, which landed the second-place spot this year. U.S. Bank dropped one ranking from 2015 to third, while Wells Fargo and Bank of America rounded out the top 5. [See Graph 4].

PNC Bank Wins on Security, Chase on Ease of Doing Business
Study leader PNC Bank ranked first in two of the four areas shown to impact customer satisfaction, including security & reputation and location convenience. Chase nabbed the top spots for ease of doing business and transparency & fairness, a category where U.S. Bank trailed by just 1%. Wells Fargo ranked second for location convenience and ease of doing business. Out of the five banks studied, Bank of America was last in each attribute, a position unchanged from the 2015 study. [See Graph 5].

Survey Demographics
The survey was conducted in September 2016 across the United States. The pool of 9,615 respondents reflected a broad spectrum of income levels, with 52% reporting household incomes of more than $50,000 a year. Respondents’ ages ranged from 18 to over 65. Approximately 73% were women and 26% were men.

About Market Force Information
Market Force Information® provides location-level measurement solutions that help businesses protect their brand reputation, delight customers and make more money. Solutions include customer experience surveys, mystery shopping and contact center data integrated on one technology and analytics platform. Founded in 2005, Market Force has a growing global presence, with offices in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France and Spain. It serves over 350 clients that operate multi-location businesses, including major retailers, restaurants, grocery and convenience stores, financial institutions and entertainment. More information can be found at


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Rebecca Scanlan
GroundFloor Media
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