Retail bank branch visits set to drop 36 per cent as mobile becomes key channel

Tim Maytom

iphone bank credit card
Consumer visits to retail bank branches are set to drop 36 per cent between 2017 and 2022, with mobile transactions rising 121 per cent in the same period as customers increasingly shift to accessing apps and secure, responsive sites on their smartphones.

The figures come from a report by industry analysts CACI, which predicts that the typical consumer will visit their bank branch just four times a year by 2022, and desktop banking will also shrink as mobile becomes the primary mode of contact.

The report comes out the same week that the ATM machine turned 50, and demonstrates just how technology has impacted the banking industry over that time. Changes are happening even faster than predicted by reports less than two years ago, with desktop banking set to decrease by 63 per cent over the next five years.

While the number of visits to banks may fall, the proportion of customers using branches will remain relatively unchanged as older consumers in particular still see physical branches as having a role to play in managing their money.

“The speed and convenience of mobile banking is a huge contributing factor to its ongoing popularity, especially as banks add more and more functionality to their apps," said Jamie Morawiec, associate partner at CACI. "Understanding who is using it, and how, is key for banks to ensure it works for everyone.

"However, with more than half the population still expected to visit a branch in 2022, the brand still has an important role to play. Banks and financial institutions must ensure that the function of the branch remains relevant, complements the digital channels, and meets the specific needs of the demographics that are using them.”

The report found that the shift towards mobile banking isn't happening at the same speed across every demographic, and the increases predicted over the next few years will likely be driven by customers who have previously been reliant on physical branches, and slow to embrace mobile.

The number of elderly, low income customers on mobile banking is set to increase fivefold over the next five years, and consumers aged 50+ will account for almost a third of all mobile banking log-ins by 2022.