A BankThink post in December that broke down banking habits by age groups was revealing in particular because of the readers who commented on the op-ed. Their message: Don't be persuaded by generational stereotypes. It's not just millennials who crave digital banking services.
One commenter wrote, "My 75-year-old mother loves her smartphone and marvels at not needing to visit a bank branch to deposit a check anymore." Another commenter, who gave her age as over 65, wrote, "If I never have to walk into a branch that would be OK with me. Don't paint us all with one brush, and don't underestimate your customers!" A third said: "Technology is the great leveler, so don't let your bank get leveled by generational assumptions."
There is more than just anecdotal evidence that too much of a focus on millennials can actually limit the target audience for financial innovation products. Generational Xers, baby boomers, and, yes, even some older customers, are tech enthusiasts and want to avoid trekking to a branch.
The scope of interest in the ease of access offered by digital banking services is much more universal than media reports focused on millennial consumers suggest. Even the oldest members of the baby boom generation have lived with computers most of their adult lives. They're comfortable online and keen to learn to use more technology, making them good targets for mobile-oriented services. What is more, they have deeper relationships with, and probably more long-term loyalty to, their traditional financial institution than younger consumers. They also have more wealth, and most are still earning.
An article in 2014 in The Financial Brand said baby boomers and older seniors comprised 75% of the total deposit volume at financial institutions. Meanwhile, Gallup that year reported that 71% of boomers bank online at least once a week, versus 70% for Generation X and 72% for Generation Y. The study "showed that 75% of banking baby boomers used online services in the past six months."
Similarly, Bank of America reported that 52% of boomers are using mobile check deposit, and according to the Raddon Report, 23% of seniors who own a smartphone or tablet have used the device for mobile banking.
Digital technology penetration into both boomer and Generation X age groups will likely only continue to grow. The AARP estimates that an American turns 50 every seven seconds, while those over 50 already make up a quarter of the U.S. adult population.
It may be true that younger users drove the initial development of services such as remote deposit capture, bill pay and personal financial management tools. But assuming that they are the only ones interested in digital banking misses an important piece of this story.
Alissa Fry-Harris is the director of marketing for Bluepoint Solutions.