Mobile Now More Popular Than Phone, Mail: Survey

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Mobile banking is a youthful upstart in the financial services industry: innovative and full of potential, but far less prevalent than tried-and-true banking methods. But a growing number of customers are willing to give portable banking technology a whirl, according to a new survey by the American Bankers Association.

Most customers still prefer to conduct their banking business on the Internet or in person, the ABA's August survey of 1,000 adults reports. Thirty-nine percent of respondents said they most frequently went online to manage their accounts, while 18% said that they preferred to bank at the branch. For the fifth straight year, the automated teller machine ranked 3rd in popularity, with 11% of customers citing it as the preferred banking method.

But for the first time in the survey's history, mobile banking outranked telephones and snail mail in popularity. Eight percent of customers said they used mobile banking more frequently than any other method—a 30% increase from 2012. U.S. mail and telephones were each favored by 7% of the respondents.

"Digital and mobile banking is increasingly popular with today's consumers who want account management tools at their fingertips," Nessa Feddis, ABA's senior vice president and deputy chief counsel for consumer protection and payments, said in a Thursday press release. "As consumer banking preferences evolve, banks remain committed to offering a variety of choices that meet the needs of all customers.

"It's not surprising that branches remain the second most popular option," Feddis continued. "Many people prefer sitting down with someone to discuss complex transactions like opening an account or applying for a home or business loan."

The survey's history underscores the point that bank customers' tastes evolve with the times. Online banking first eclipsed visiting a branch as the most common banking method in 2009 and has continued to dominate the survey ever since.

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