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Boomers move to online banking

By David McMillin ·
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Posted: 9 am ET

No matter how old you are, leaving your house to take care of your banking needs seems so last year.

The results of a new American Bankers Association survey show that the majority of older Americans now prefer online banking versus visiting a branch, using the mail or any other method. While younger consumers were early adopters of online banking, this marks the first time that consumers 55 years and older have made the Web their first choice.

The increase among the 55-plus group was quite dramatic, too. In 2010, only 20 percent of respondents preferred online banking. In 2011, that figure shot up to 57 percent.

Older Americans weren't alone in this surge, either. Age groups 18 to 34, and 35 to 54, also saw increases of 20 percent or more for online banking. It seems this massive increase could be partially attributed to a push from the banks. More institutions have started requiring account holders to sign up for online bill pay and paperless statements to waive checking account fees.

Now that everyone is jumping on the online bandwagon, here are the complete list of preferred methods of banking for all age groups combined:

  • Internet banking: 62 percent.
  • In-branch services: 20 percent.
  • ATMs: 8 percent.
  • Mail: 6 percent.
  • Telephone: 3 percent.
  • Mobile: 1 percent.

I'm curious to see if the continued shift to online banking also carries bigger implications. Will banks reduce hours at branch locations or shutter some of them altogether? Or could the rise of online banking steer more customers toward Internet-only institutions? After all, if customers don't want to visit branches, a massive nationwide network of retail locations and ATMs doesn’t really matter.

The stats also show mobile banking has a long way to go until account holders are comfortable using their smartphones and tablets to transfer funds and make payments. As banks and budget companies continue to deal with mobile banking security issues, I expect this number to hover near the bottom of the barrel.

How do you prefer to take care of your banking needs? Has your preference changed within the last year? If bank branches become dinosaurs, will you be upset?

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