Mobile banking is accelerating in California’s wine country

According to a national online survey, US consumers use mobile digital apps more than any other method to connect with their banks.

And North Bay financial institutions are taking advantage of this technology to reach customers who increasingly don’t physically visit their branches.

“The ABA survey shows that consumers overwhelmingly appreciate digital tools that make banking easier. It also shows that Americans recognize how (banking) industry investments in technology are helping to attract millions more unbanked households into the banking system, a recognition of the role that technology plays in promoting financial inclusion.” , said Rob Nichols, president of the American Banking Association. and CEO.

Survey results show that mobile banking remains the most popular banking access channel for consumers by nearly half (45%) of respondents, followed by online banking (27%) and branch visits (14% ).

Nichols said 95% of respondents this year rated their bank’s online and mobile app experience as excellent (47%), very good (38%) or good (14%), and 84% said technological improvements make it easier to access financial services. . The survey was conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of the association from September 16 to 17 with a sample of 2,211 adults.

While the electronic digitization of financial transactions has been underway since the mid-1980s, the adoption of “neo” mobile banking has exploded during the pandemic, resulting in a marked spike in digital access from 2019 and accelerating as bank customers sheltered in place and stayed away from the indoor public. gatherings, including in the workplace.

Mobile banking applications are becoming multi-generational and universally used. Google found that 5 out of 10 mobile users prefer to use them on mobile websites and other platforms to manage their accounts, and around 90% of users use mobile banking apps to view their account balances.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s biennial survey found that 43.5% of households said mobile was their primary method of accessing their accounts, compared to 22% who chose online banking. The FDIC based its findings on Census Bureau data collected from 30,000 U.S. households in June 2021.

Perspectives from local banks and credit unions

Financial institutions in North Bay have benefited from digital conversions of mobile apps that offer the ability to take a picture of a check and digitally deposit it into a bank account using a smartphone, also allowing consumers to take advantage other financial services at any time of the day or night.

exchange bank has seen a 17.5% increase in logins on mobile devices since January 2020 and a 38.9% increase in check deposits on mobile apps,” according to Tony De Mattei, Product Manager of Digital Channels.

According to De Mattei, Exchange Bank consolidated its Bennett Valley branch with the Reinking branch in the East Santa Rosa Montgomery Village mall last year. Also in 2021, it reopened an ATM across from the previous location on Yulupa Avenue in the Bennett Valley community east of Santa Rosa, and consolidated the College Avenue and Coddingtown branches on the west side of town, but kept the Coddingtown ATM open. .

The bank opened a new branch in Sebastopol in 2020 for customers in West Sonoma County.

Tony Hildesheim, chief operating officer of Redwood Credit Union, which has 19 branches in North Bay and San Francisco, said the Santa Rosa-based institution has focused on online convenience and security.

“Like many others, we have seen a sharp increase in the use of digital services due to COVID-19,” Hildesheim said. “We have always had a holistic view of our members and have worked hard to provide as many convenient and secure digital banking options as possible.”

Approximately 85% of RCU members use digital banking channels, with an average of 4 million connections per month. Of this total, 63% use mobile apps as their primary form of account access, with an increasing trend; 22%, a combination of mobile apps and website-based access, remaining constant; and 15% Web only, constantly decreasing.

Hildesheim said that for five years, the use of mobile apps has overtaken the website as the preferred method for accessing accounts and doing business. Members typically use the app every other day to deposit checks, check balances, send money or manage their payment cards, he said.

At the height of the pandemic, all credit union locations remained open.

“Our goal in times of crisis is to stay open and serve our members – making sure they have access to their accounts and the services they need,” Hildesheim said. “We also took the opportunity to introduce members who visited our branches to the benefits of saving a trip and the convenience of transacting from the safety of their homes.”