COVID-19 reduces branch traffic, spurs more mobile bank app usage

The coronavirus appears to have reduced traffic in bank branches and pushed many consumers to rely more heavily on mobile banking applications for their banking needs.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, customers have visited bank branches less frequently and utilized mobile banking applications more often to access banking services, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence's annual mobile banking survey. The survey indicates that the trend could have legs, with consumers who are using their apps more frequently saying they will likely continue to do so post-pandemic.

Nearly 58% of survey respondents affirmed that they had visited bank branches less frequently since the COVID-19 outbreak. While most respondents — nearly 48% — exhibited no change in their mobile banking behavior, more than 44% of survey respondents used their mobile banking apps more frequently after the COVID-19 outbreak began.

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Interestingly, less than 2% of respondents said they used their mobile banking app for the first time since the pandemic surfaced. This stands in contrast to the experience of other mobile financial services. For example, nonbank mobile payment apps like PayPal Holdings Inc. and Square Inc.'s Cash App have seen significant growth in new users in the past few months. According to the survey data, the growth in mobile banking activity has come from existing users leaning on mobile functionality more often rather than brand new customers adopting the service.

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