Australian bank customers fastest adopters of mobile banking in the world

According to a new survey by consultancy, Bain & Company, Australian bank customers are among the fastest adopters of mobile banking globally. The research reveals that 38% of Australian customers' interactions with their bank happened using a smartphone or tablet in 2014, up from 22% the year before.

Mobile banking has become more popular than online banking through a desktop computer. It is now the main way that customers interact with their bank. As a result, online banking went down from 42% to 35 % of customer interactions.

If this trend continues, it is predicted to make the Big 4 prime targets for technology-based firms eyeing banks' huge profits.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that although the trend is occurring across the world, Bain partner Gerard du Toit said Australian consumers were leading the world in their use of mobile banking.

"The pace of change over the last 12 months is stunning," said Mr du Toit, Bain's head of banking in the US, on a visit to Australia.

While this trend towards mobile banking is convenient for consumers, the embrace of mobile technology is a potential threat for CBA, Westpac, ANZ and NAB, Mr du Toit said. That is because the high usage of mobile – and the lucrative profits earned by the Big 4 – act as a "bright red target" to the growing number of technology-based businesses in the market competing with banks in payments and lending.

"Given Australia both has customers who are now used to doing their banking on mobile, which all these start-ups are going after, and has really attractive profit margins, it just makes it really attractive to go after it," Mr du Toit said.

The findings also point to the fact that Australian consumers were less likely to visit a branch than customers in other counties. However, Mr du Toit said branches still had a viable future helping customers with complex problems or providing advice.

The results of the research were based on surveys of 83,000 consumers from 22 countries, including 2700 people in Australia.

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