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Fed Reports Soaring Adoption of Mobile RDC, Other Mobile Banking Services

Consumer adoption of mobile banking is proceeding at a rapid clip, driven in part by gains in the number of consumers using their mobiles to make check deposits.

Consumers and Mobile Financial Services 2015, is the fourth annual report issued by the Federal Reserve Board examining how consumers use mobile devices to access accounts at federally-insured banks and credit unions. As of December 2014, 39% of adult Americans with mobile phones and bank accounts were using mobile banking products, up from 33% 12 months earlier, the Fed reported. What’s more, so-called “underbanked” adults are more likely to use mobile banking services than are “banked” Americans.

By far, the most common activity performed by mobile banking customers is checking balances; 94% of mobile banking users had done this during 2014, the Fed reported.

Mobile check deposit is the fourth most commonly used feature with 51% of mobile banking customers reporting that they had made check deposits using mobile phone cameras during 2014. In 2013 just 38% of adults surveyed reported using their mobiles to deposit checks.

Other commonly used mobile banking features include transferring money between accounts (61% in 2014), receiving balance and other alerts (57%), and initiating bill payments (48%). Just 22% of adults use mobile devices to make POS payments.

Getting Smarter

Consumers and Mobile Financial Services 2015 contains a wealth of details about consumer adoption of mobile devices and who uses those devices to manage their financial lives.

Eighty-seven percent of U.S. adults had mobile phones last year, unchanged from 2013, the Fed reported. However, more had smartphones last year: 71%, up from 61% in 2013. And smartphone users are more apt to use their mobiles for banking; 52% used the devices to access financial services last year.

Additionally, the survey found 11% of mobile phone users who had bank accounts but were not using mobile banking services expected to start using mobile devices this year to access banking services.

The Fed survey, undertaken in December, found mobile banking has significant appeal to “unbanked” and “underbanked” Americans. The Fed said 13% of adults were unbanked in 2014, up from 10% in 2013. These individuals have no relationships with federally-insured financial institutions; they rely exclusively on nonbanks, such as check cashing, payday lending and prepaid debit card companies. The underbanked (representing 14% of adults) may have bank accounts or credit cards, but they prefer to use nonbanks alternatives.

According to the survey, 77% of the unbanked and 90% of underbanked adults have access to mobile phones; 65% and 73% of those phones, respectively, are smartphones. And significant numbers of the underbanked, especially, rely on mobile devices to bank. Among the underbanked 48% reported using mobile banking services, while 32% made mobile payments, the Fed said.