Sending customers email or text alerts about low balances, payments due or large transactions seems like a great idea, but adoption rates are slowing dramatically, and analysts at Javelin Strategy & Research say that's because banks aren't giving consumers what they want.
First the good news: 29 percent of online households, or 52 million households, receive financial alerts, either via email or text message, according to Javelin's survey of nearly 3,000 online households last spring. That seems like a good adoption rate, given that even the most robust statistics have only about half of online households participating in online banking nearly 15 years after it became available.
But the number of online households receiving alerts grew by just 3.3 percent last year, after enjoying several years of double-digit growth, Javelin says. The most popular alert was the notification of a large withdrawal or purchase, with 45 percent of respondents saying this type is most valuable, significantly lower than the 57 percent who thought so last year. Other alerts are also losing favor with consumers, including alerts that notify consumers of changes to personal account information.
There are a number of plausible explanations for the slowing adoption: banks don't all offer, or aggressively market, these kinds of alerts - just 52 percent of financial institutions offer large transactions alert - so there could be a supply issue. But Javelin researcher Mark Schwanhausser sees dissatisfaction in the data. "There is some troubling telltale evidence that consumers are wearing out, we see their preferences changing," he says, noting that the "batch" nature of some alert information is anathema to mobile customers who want real-time data.