Mobile banking transactions doubled last year as customers rely less on interactions with traditional branch networks, the British Bankers’ Association has said.
Smartphones and tablets were used for 18.6 million transactions a week during 2013, according to the BBA’s ‘Way We Bank Now’ report, up from 9.1 million in 2012.
Customers have downloaded more than 12.4 million banking apps in total as financial institutions increase their focus on mobile devices. Royal Bank of Scotland, for example, expects more than four million downloads of its app by the end of 2014, an increase of a third compared to the previous year.
Bank users are also accessing services more frequently than branches, the report highlights, with Barclays customers using mobile banking 24 times a month.
“A revolution is underway in how people spend, move and manage their money,” said Anthony Browne, chief executive of the BBA. “This is innovation that connects us more strongly to our banks than ever before and gives us greater freedom to handle our money wherever and whenever we please."
While many banks have been investing in digital channels, there have also been moves to reduce the size of branch networks. Last week Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks announced they are to close 28 branches due to low footfall, and will invest £20 million in online and mobile services. Barclays has also announced that it will cut 1,700 frontline staff as it aims to increase reliance on digital banking services.
However banks have struggled to support the growth in popularity of mobile services at times. Exceptional demand for mobile banking services on payday last month was blamed for widespread outages which affected customers of a number of high street lenders, including RBS, Santander and Barclays.
Browne continued: “Make no mistake, the branch will remain integral to banking services in the 21st century – especially for those big moments in life such as arranging a mortgage. But the day-to-day use of branches is falling and part of that is because there is a groundswell of people who now find that banking on the move is fast, easy and convenient.”