Banking on computers in decline as smartphones take over

Mobile is the most dominant form of banking in the world, according to a study of 80,000 people across 22 countries

Mobile is the most dominant form of banking in the world and is enabling competitors to eat into banks' business without being noticed, according to a massive study of 80,000 people.

According to the research from Bain & Company, mobile accounted for about a third of transactions in 13 out of the 22 countries surveyed.

The study showed banking using a mobile is taking over online banking via a computer, which decreased by 3% in 2013.

Lead author of the research and a Bain partner Gerard du Toit said there have been greater changes in customers' banking behaviours in the past year than any other time during the five years the firm has been publishing its research.

“This change is, of course, led by mobile, which is now the dominant banking channel in most of the 22 markets we surveyed,” he said.

But while consumers use more mobile products and services, the research also revealed banks are often unaware of customers using competitors.

The study showed there is some movement of consumers between banks. More than a third of consumers have bought a new product from a competing bank or other provider during the past year.

“This defection often goes unnoticed because banks are usually not aware their customers were shopping in the first place and seldom know they lost the sale,” said Bain & Company. 

“As more digital startups and specialist firms – which are less encumbered by legacy systems and regulations – enter the market and siphon off business, banks stand to lose even more customers and profits.”

Research from Vocalink’s mobile banking subsidiary, Zapp, revealed a massive 21 million British people would change banks to access mobile payments, with 33% of these planning it over the next year.

The research carried out by Atomik Research showed 44% of consumers plan to switch accounts if their current bank has no plans to offer mobile payments.

But despite mobile’s emergence as the favoured banking channel, most banks are not yet using it as effectively as a sales tool, said Bain & Company. 

According to the firm's research, when buying new bank products only 19% of customers consult a bank’s mobile app. In comparison, 47% consult their primary bank’s website and 37% speak with bank employees. 

Read more on IT for financial services