The 49% Text Banking Gap

image Quick. What comes to mind when you envision mobile banking? I’m guessing most of you pictured a mobile website or shiny new app running on a recent iPhone, Blackberry, Android or other smartphone.

And if mobile banking was used only by techies, that would be about right. But banking is used by just about everyone, and everyone still doesn’t have a smartphone and Internet data plan.

According to the latest study out of Pew Internet (note 1), 82% of U.S. adults have a cell phone (and another 6% of the total live in a household where someone else owns one). And 72% of those cell phone owners use text messaging while only 38% access the Internet through their phone.

And only 60% of the mobile-Internet users, or 23% of all cell phone users, are frequent users, accessing the Internet 3 or more times per week (note 2). 

So the text-banking gap is 49% (72 less 23) or half of all cell phone users. Those are the people that use text messaging but do not regularly access the Internet through their phones. Another way to think of it, the non-Internet-using segment is more than twice the size of the mobile-Internet-using group. Or more simply, text users outnumber (frequent) mobile Internet users 3 to 1. 

Bottom line: Don’t overlook the mainstream text-message group for both alerts and balance inquiries. And make sure your marketing and educational material speaks to the sizable segment that could care less about your new iPhone app and just wants to know how to txt for their bal. 

1. Adult data compiled via telephone interviews in May 2010. N = 2,252. Teen data is from a year ago in a telephone survey of 800 teens (age 12-17) fielded June through Sept. 2009.
image2. In comparison, text-message usage is crazy high (see eMarketer graph of the Pew Internet data inset). According to the Pew data, adult (18+) text-message users send/receive almost 40 text messages a day. Of course, that’s nothing compared to the thumb-weary, under-18 crowd who send/receive an average of 110 messages per day. Side note: The wording on the question asks for the number of messages sent AND received, so one exchange, text out and reply back, should only count as one message. But I’m guessing respondents are thinking of this more as “sent OR received” so that each exchange counts as two messages. I also suspect the kids are over-estimating their usage quite a bit, wanting to wow the researchers with their uber-connectedness. But the bottom line is the same: Teens have embraced texting, and adults have caught the bug as well.   
3. For more info on mobile banking, see our mobile banking series in Online Banking Report. Traffic Soars Under Intuit Ownership

image I don’t know if it has anything to do with the publicity Mint received in recent months following its acquisition by Intuit or the promotional links from Quicken’s website, but the online PFM juggernaut just blew the roof off its monthly traffic. According to Compete, in January, Mint had 1.7 million unique visitors, 600,000 more than a year earlier.

To provide a little context, not counting the Dec. to April tax-time traffic spike at Intuit, Mint’s traffic is now slightly HIGHER than that of its parent company (see chart #1 below). That gives you a little understanding of why Intuit coughed up $170 million for the startup.

Another way to look at it: Mint now has as much traffic as the tenth largest U.S. retail bank, BB&T (see chart #2).

The interesting question for 2010: Now that Mint is part of the establishment, what startup will rise up to challenge it? Or will the banks, back on a path to profitability, fill the need going forward? 

Chart 1: Mint’s traffic is now similar to Intuit’s non-tax-time traffic

Source: Compete (link)

Chart 2: Mint now has about the same number of visitors as the tenth largest U.S. retail bank, BB&T
Note: Mint is blue line below

Source: Compete (link)

Note: For more information on the PFM space, see our Online Banking Report on Personal Finance Features.

Numbers in the News: P2P Payments Usage at First General Credit Union

image It’s always difficult to gauge actual consumer demand for new services. Traditional market research, while providing some broad intent data (e.g., “yeah, that sounds like something I might buy“), doesn’t really do a very good job in telling you whether real customers will use the service. The problem is that in the real world, customers have real concerns about new products and most are unwilling to spend very much time learning about them.

So it’s always great to find financial institutions willing to share usage data on their online or mobile services. This week, First General Credit Union wins our undying gratitude (and a free subscription to Netbanker) by revealing its person-to-person payments numbers in the latest issue of Credit Union Journal

The CU uses iPay Technologies P2P payment service which is provided at no-cost to its deluxe bill-payment clients. Keep in mind, this is a small $44 million credit union serving 5,000 members, so the raw numbers aren’t large but the percentages are interesting:

Number of online banking users: 500 (10% of members)
Number of bill-pay users: 200 (40% of online banking users)
Number of P2P payment users:    3 (1.5% of bill-pay users,
       0.6% of online banking users

Analysis: The credit union says it hasn’t promoted the P2P feature, which is offered free of charge. It’s not even mentioned on its website, except on slide 22 of its online demo. So this isn’t a representative sample for a financial institution looking to drive usage to the product. However, a 2% penetration (of online/mobile customers) is along the lines of what we expect this year nationwide. Longer-term, we expect usage to grow at least 10-fold from that level (see note below).

Note: For more information on P2P payments including a 15-year usage forecast, see our recent Online Banking Report: Making the Case for P2P Payments (published Dec. 2009).

New Online Banking Report Available: Ten-Year Online & Mobile Banking Forecast and 2009 Recap

image The latest Online Banking Report: 2010 to 2019 Online & Mobile Banking Forecast is now available. It will mail next week to OBR subscribers. It’s also available online here. There’s no charge for current subscribers; others may download it immediately for US$495.

The report includes our latest 10-year online banking and bill pay forecast. For the third year in a row, the forecast was bumped up a few percentage points to reflect a more robust outlook for adoption, thanks primarily to mobile banking. For example, we now project 73 million U.S. households banking and/or paying bills by online or via mobile in 2013 (note 1). 

The report also includes a revised 10-year forecast for U.S. peer-to-peer lending. After experiencing a 30% decline in 2009, we expect healthy growth next year with a record amount of loan originations.   

Top ten innovations & trends of 2009 and of the decade
The report includes a summary of the top ten innovations of the past year, including the surge in mobile banking usage, the amazing tools coming out of the iTunes App Store, and of course, the surprising adoption of Twitter, with nearly 1000 financial institutions worldwide tapping the real-time info stream (note 4). 

We also listed the top 25 innovations of the decade topped by the invention of simple online payments by PayPal ten years ago (note 2) and the advent of modern mobile banking (note 3) which appeared in the United States just three years ago at Citibank (powered by mFoundry) and BancorpSouth (powered by Firethorn).

1. Mobile banking access is included in the overall online banking numbers, but it’s also shown as a separate line item. 
2. Technically, this launched in mid-Nov. 1999, but that seems close enough to 2000 to make the all-decade list.
3. There were a number of earlier mobile efforts, including from Citibank, in the 1999 to 2001 period, but they were ahead of their time and shuttered in 2001/2002 for lack of interest. The “modern era” began in 2007 in the United States.
4. Follow them all on Twitter via The Financial Brand’s financial institution lists.

Intuit’s New Quicken Site Sprouts Some Mint

image If anyone still wondered how serious Intuit is about incorporating the Mint brand into its portfolio after its $170 million acquisition, take a look at the latest version of the Quicken sales site. Mint is prominently featured (see first screenshot below), especially if you scroll one “ad spot” over (second screenshot).

I also found Mint mentioned at PayTrust, Intuit’s bill management site (third screenshot). There’s even a small plug on the Quicken Online login page (fourth screenshot).

However, on Mint’s site the co-branding is not reciprocated. Quicken is not mentioned at all and Intuit is relegated to 8-point type at the bottom of the page (fourth screenshot).

The latest traffic figures from Compete support the theory that Intuit is de-emphasizing Quicken Online in favor of Mint. Traffic to <> fell 50% in November to about 400,000, while Mint held steady at about 3x that, 1.2 million unique visitors.

Source: Compete, 10 Dec 2009 (link)

Quicken homepage on default choice, Quicken 2010 (link; 9 Dec. 2009, 11 PM)


Quicken homepage with selected from scrolling choices
Note: Yellow highlight is mine


Intuit PayTrust homepage (link)


Quicken Online login page (link)


Mint homepage
Intuit mentioned twice at bottom of page (yellow highlight is mine). 


Note: For more information on the PFM space, see our Online Banking Report on Personal Finance Features.

2009 ABA Survey Shows Online Banking is Most Frequent Delivery Channel for First Time

image Some interesting data was released today from the American Bankers Association (press release). According to its annual telephone survey of 1000 U.S. consumers, online/Internet banking is now the most common banking method among U.S. consumers (note 1). 

Here are the totals (see notes 2, 3):

Question: Which banking method do you use most often?

Channel 2009 2008 Net Difference Percent Change
Online/Internet 32% 25% Up 7.5 points + 30%
Branches 28% 34% Down 6.6 (24%)
ATM 22% 28% Down 5.6 (20%)
Mail (note 3) 11% 9.1% Up 1.9 +21%
Telephone (note 3) 5.8% 4.1% Up 1.7 +41%
Mobile (note 3) 0.6% 1.0% Down 0.4 (40%)
Total 100% 100%

Source: American Bankers Association, telephone survey of 1000 U.S. consumers conducted by Ipsos-Reid, on August 14-16-2009

1. Remember, this reflects households willing to take a telephone survey but who may or may not use the Internet. If you are surprised to see online usage trailing branch usage until this year, you may be thinking of research results from other surveys of online users, who have long preferred online banking over other delivery channels.
2. Unlike the ABA release, I’ve eliminated all the Don’t know, Unsure, and Other responses from the totals. So, the figures above represent the delivery-channel penetration of customers who named a single one from the list read to them.
3. The changes in mail, telephone and mobile seem odd. It’s possible that the way the question was constructed accounts for these counter-intuitive results in the lesser-cited categories. In 2009, respondents were given two new choices: “other” and “none of these.” In 2008, without those two bail-out choices, more customers chose one of the six channels read to them over the phone.  In 2008, 110 respondents out of 1000 said don’t know, unsure, etc. In 2009, that number doubled to 226 respondents out of 1002.
4. Image credit: Bank of Hawaii.

Bank of America Implies that Branch Network Could Shrink 10% in Next Three Years

imageIn what will surely be the first in a long string of similar headlines, the top of  yesterday’s Wall Street Journal Money & Investing section declared:

BofA Plans to Cut 10% of Branches

The article, which has been picked up by nearly 100 news sites in the past 24 hours, reported that Bank of America was planning on reducing the size of its 6,000-branch network. There were no details on timing or whether the bank was retreating from certain markets or was simply pruning overlapping branches broadly.

But in later interviews with bank execs, it sounded like Bank of America was merely predicting a gradual shrinkage in its branch network over the next three years, and had no firm plans for specific closures. Here’s a followup quote from president Liam McGee as reported by Charlotte NPR station WFAE:

“I think <CEO Lewis> was asked a question, ‘Boy, could there be x-percentage less branches in the next few years?’ And he was just saying, ‘Yeah, could be, and if there was it would be in magnitude of this as opposed to a much higher number.'”

McGee says the bank is going through a 3-year evaluation process that could result in fewer branches, but that no particular number is targeted. He says customers’ changing habits are driving the process.

What I found more interesting in the debate were some of the numbers the bank tossed out showing the growth of it’s non-branch delivery:

  • Nearly 50% of deposits are made in ATMs…up amazingly from 33% six months ago. The bank didn’t say whether this was NUMBER of deposits or VALUE of deposits, but it’s likely the former. Also, it’s unclear if remote deposits made via scanner are included in the total. That new technology is making a significant dent in branch-based deposits at many financial institutions.
  • 2.8 million customers are now using the mobile channel which was introduced in mid-2007. That’s an average of about 120,000 new customer per month. However, growth appears to have accelerated slightly this year. In early Feb, the bank said it had 2 million mobile banking customers; so in the past 5.5 month, growth has been just under 150,000 new users per month.   
  • The bank has a 60% market share in online bill payment; an amazing penetration for a bank with 12% of the country’s deposits. 

1. See our Online Banking Report: The Demise of the Branch (April 2006), for more on the long-term trends in the mix of branch and alternative delivery.

Mobile Banking Forecasts (U.S.): TowerGroup vs. Online Banking Report

image TowerGroup has just released a new research note discussing the growing adoption of mobile banking in the United States. The research unit of MasterCard is predicting a five-fold increase in active users (note 1) between year-end 2009 and year-end 2013.

In comparison, we (note 2) are projecting a four-fold increase. But either way, it’s a phenomenal growth curve reflecting a market that financial institutions must pay attention to.

Following are the numbers Tower released; more details are contained in the full report (purchase here). I also compared to those that we projected in our Jan 17 Online Banking Report.

Please note: TowerGroup forecasts active USERS; we forecast active HOUSEHOLDS. There are about 1.9 adults (18+) per household in the United States, but often, not all of the adults in the household are active banking users, so it’s a bit hard to compare the two figures. But if you assume 1.2 to 1.4 mobile banking users per household (note 3), we are pretty close this year, but TowerGroup is a bit more bullish five years out.

(May 2009)
Online Banking Report (Jan 2009) Online Banking Report (Jan 2009)
Basis Active U.S. users Active U.S. Households (HH) Active U.S. users assuming 1.2/HH now, 1.4/HH in 2013
2008 4.6 mil 3.5 mil 4.2 mil
2009 10 mil 7.5 mil 9.0 mil
2013 53 mil 30 mil 42 mil
CAGR (08 vs 13) 63% 54% 58%

Sources: Online Banking Report, Jan 2009; TowerGroup, May 2009

1. Active mobile users have used the service within the past 90 days.
2. See our Online Banking Report: Mobile and Online Banking Forecast or the Online Banking Report: Banking on the iPhone for complete details.
3. We assume the number of mobile users per household will grow over time starting with 1.2 per household in 2009 to 1.4 per household in 2013.  

Is USAA the second largest in mobile banking?

image image Last week, USAA released astounding figures on its mobile banking usage: The 10-month-old service is already used by 11.4% — about 800,000 — of its 7 million members, making USAA one of the largest mobile banking providers in the country (press releasesee note 1).

The mobile platform has bagged more than 13 million logins in ten months, about 3% of its nearly 500 million annual customer contacts (note 2).

With the introduction of its own native iPhone app last week (note 3), USAA now supports the three primary methods for mobile access (see screenshot below):

Only Bank of America, with 2.6 million mobile users, has publicly revealed a larger mobile base. That makes USAA number two among known user bases. However, it is highly likely that both Chase/WaMu and Wells Fargo/Wachovia have cracked the one-million-user mark and are second and third largest. 

USAA’s mobile landing page (18 May 2009)


1. On a side note, USAA posts its press releases in blog format which allows visitors to comment and/or subscribe via RSS.   
2. The 3% is approximated from data in the press release: 470 million customer contacts in 2008 and 13 million mobile logins since the service was launched in summer 2008.
3. Since last fall, USAA users could access their accounts via Firethorn’s multi-bank iPhone app.

Banks and Credit Unions on Twitter

image If you haven’t been following Twitter the last few months, you may not realize it now has almost eight million monthly unique visitors according to Compete. That’s almost double the traffic it had just two months ago and a nearly a nine-fold gain from a year ago.

To put that traffic in perspective, it’s more than half that of the NY Times and slightly more than banking giant Wachovia (see Compete chart below).


Banking activity
Financial institutions are pretty new to the micro-blogging platform. In a search today, we found 15 U.S. banks and 22 credit unions with active Twitter feeds (see notes 1, 6-8). There were also and nine international banks for a total of 46.

See the table below for the non-inclusive list ranked by number of Twitter users that follow the bank’s feed (note 2). Wachovia (now owned by Wells Fargo), the only major bank that has promoted Twitter on its main website, leads with 2,000 followers (see previous post on Wachovia’s foray on to Twitter).

Participating in Twitter is a low-cost entry into social media that can actually help save a customer relationship or three. Compared to blogging, it is much less labor intensive. It’s also less of a marketing platform given the 140-character limit in posts. But in the current environment, perhaps less truly is more. By all means, find a gung-ho Facebook devotee in your bank and let him or her get you into the Tweeting game.

Table: Banks and Credit Unions using Twitter (updated 16 March 2009)

Name Twitter URL (4) Updates Followers
1. Wachovia (Wells Fargo) /wachovia 257 2,058
2. Bank of America /bofa_help 557 1,486
3. Wells Fargo (3) /wellsfargo 4 548
4. ING Direct (6) /ingdirect 50 451
5. North Shore Bank /northshorebank 194 319
6. MSU Federal CU (7) /msufcu 180 270
7. Chase /chasebank 11 260
8. Pioneer Credit Union /pioneercu 225 251
9. 1st Mariner Bank /1stmarinerbank 140 227
10. Group Health CU /ghcu 353 219
11. GLS Bank (Germany) /glsbank 279 204
12. Brewery Credit Union /brewerycu 65 194
13. Bellco Credit Union /bellco_cu 67 192
14. Banco de Chile (Chile) /bancodechile 175 181
15. First Federal /firstfederal 89 177
16. Oklahoma Employees CU /oecu 14 148
17. CU Credit Union /mycucommunity 73 147
18. Allegiance CU (7) /allegiancecu 29 141
19. Heartland CU (7) /heartlandcu 33 125
20. Hopewell Federal CU (7) /hopewellfedcu 74 122
21. Tech CU (7) /techcu 62 115
22. Ubank (Australia, 8) /ubank 151 113
23. Banco Sabadell (Spain) /bancosabadell 2,272 111
24. FORUM Credit Union /forumtalk 19 97
25. Citibank /citi_forward 16 96
26. Fidelity Bank /fidelity_bank 11 92
27. Northeast Bank /northeast_bank 5 84
28. Banco Popular (Puerto Rico) /mi_banco 15 65
29. U.S. First Credit Union /schecking 43 61
30. Oklahoma Central CU (7) /okcentralcu 5 60
31. First Arkansas Bank /fabandt 27 59
32. SEB Bank (Germany) /seb_bank 37 59
33. 66 Fed Credit Union /66fcu 8 47
34. Telesis Credit Union /telesiscu 18 46
35. University CU (7) /universitycu 18 46
36. Nicolet Bank /nicoletbank 15 43
37. Chesapeake Bank /chesbank 8 41
38. Libra Bank (Romania) /librabank 14 38
39. KU Credit Union /kucreditunion 8 32
40. TwinStar CU (7) /twinstarcu 19 32
41. Capital Credit Union /captialcu 7 30
42. NW GA Credit Union /nwgacu 18 30
43. Banco de Guayaquil (Ecuador) /bancoguayaquil 77 28
44. COP Credit Union /copcu 7 26
45. Webster Bank /websterbank 3 20
46. Friesland Bank (Netherlands) /frieslandbank 8 10

Source: Online Banking Report, 13 March 2009 (see notes 6,7,8)

1. To be considered active, the bank or credit union had to have set up a Twitter account, customized it with its logo, have made more than 1 update or “Tweet,” and have at least 10 followers. 
2. This is not a complete list. With a few exceptions, we only looked for financial institutions with “bank” or “credit union” in their name.
3. Wells Fargo’s Twitter page says it will be launching soon.
4. Twitter URL =<shown below>
5. For more on bank blogging, see our Online Banking Report on Banking 2.0
6. List and totals updated with ING Direct and First Federal on 16 March 2009
7. Searched on “CU” and found eight more credit unions on 17 March 2009. Thanks Gabriel Garcia.
8. Added NAB’s Ubank from comments, unsure why it didn’t show up on “bank” search

Mint, Quicken Online Release Registered-User Totals

mint_logoWe’ve regularly cited third-party estimates of website traffic to Mint and other PFMs. More often that not, we’ll get a comment or email taking us to task for using such inexact and/or irrelevant data. But we believe that website traffic, even a rough approximation, is a leading indicator of success.  image

Luckily, we now have better metrics for the two online leaders. In response to what appears to be a truth-in-advertising query from Intuit’s general counsel (see note 1), Mint disclosed its registered-user count (note 2), which has been growing at an average of 17% per month in Q4 2008 and so far in this year. 

As of yesterday, Mint had 934,000 users, double third quarter’s end-count. That’s 3,400 new registered users per day (seven days a week), almost 25,000 per week. The company should pass one million before St. Patrick’s day.

While this growth in registered users is impressive, what’s truly astonishing is that 70% of the registered users, 680,000 so far, have entered at least one bank or credit card username/password in order to automatically download transactions into Mint.

In response to Mint’s disclosure, Quicken Online reported its 650,000 registered users, currently growing at a 45,000-per-week clip. If that continues, they’ll pass one million before the April tax deadline.

It looks like there’s quite a battle shaping up between the two leading online personal finance specialists. And don’t overlook the banks. Both Bank of America (2.5 mil as of April 2008) and Wells Fargo (1 mil as of Nov 2008) have more online personal finance users at this point.

What it means: Account aggregation, left for dead a few years ago, is making a fearsome comeback. The three biggest players, Bank of America, Mint, and Quicken Online, now have more than 4 million registered users, approximately 4% of all U.S. banking households (note 3).

Table: Mint Registered Users by Month

Month-End Registered Users* Monthly
% Gain
Aug 2008 404,000
Sep 2008 458,000 54,000 13%
Oct 2008 544,000 96,000 21%
Nov 2008 606,000 62,000 11%
Dec 2008 720,000 114,000 19%
Jan 2009** 864,000** 144,000** 20%**
Feb 2009*** 934,000***
Avg gain/mo 94,000 17%

Source: Mint, Feb. 2009
*Registered users are anyone who has signed up with email address
** Through Jan 25 (per Mint letter, 28 Jan)
***Through Feb 19 (per
TechCrunch post, 19 Feb)

1. Intuit’s letter to Mint here.
2. Mint’s response here.
3. Yodlee provides the aggregation engine for both Bank of America and Mint.
4. For more info, see our Online Banking Report on Account Aggregation and Online Banking Report on Personal Finance Features

Mobile Banking Stats: 40% of Bank of America’s 2 million Mobile Bankers Use iPhone or iPod Touch

image Bank of America has been making the rounds with the press touting the runaway success of its mobile banking solutions. Major stories ran in American Banker and The Wall Street Journal this week.

The bank, with 29 million online banking users, reports numbers just shy of the 2-million mark in mobile. That’s up from one million early this summer (post here). While it’s still less than 10% of online banking customers, it’s an impressive number considering fewer than 4 million mobile banking households exist in the entire country (see note 1).

Several other interesting stats from BofA:

  • More than 40% of active mobile bankers
    someone who’s logged in within the past 90 days
    use an iPhone or iPod touch. That’s about double the usage you’d expect given Apple’s 23% share of the U.S. installed smart phone base (note 2, 3).
  • The bank believes the mobile channel is driving some new business to the bank with 8% to 10% of mobile bankers, almost 200,000, having signed up for the service within 90 days of opening a BofA account (note 4).


Source: ChangeWave Research, survey of 3,800 cell phone users fielded Dec. 9 – 15, 2008 (link)

1. See our latest Online Banking Report: Online & Mobile Forecast for more details.
2. The 23% figure does not include iPod Touch.
3. One other bank provided its usage numbers to the WSJ: Mississippi’s BankPlus reported 4,000 users with 60% of the usage (2,400) coming from iPhone users.
4. That number doesn’t seem all that surprising. You’d expect new customers would be somewhat more likely to sign up for new delivery channels than the existing base. And given typical banking churn, 10% to 20% of a bank’s customer base are new every year.