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National Survey: Bank Customers Now Use Mobile Apps More Than Any Other Channel to Manage Their Accounts


For the first time ever*, bank customers are conducting their banking via mobile apps more often than any other method, according to a new survey conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of the American Bankers Association. The national survey found bank customers preferred mobile apps both prior to and following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prior to COVID-19, 36% of bank customers used apps on phones or other mobile devices as their top option for managing their bank account, while 29% used online banking via laptop or PC the most and 17% (nearly 1 in 5 customers) most frequently conducted their transactions in person at their bank’s branch. During the pandemic, the frequency of digital channel use increased even further (39% mobile app, 32% online) while branch banking fell to 10%.

“Banks have made innovation a priority, investing in tools to give consumers faster and more secure access to their money,” said Rob Morgan, ABA’s senior vice president of innovation strategy. “Consumers were already embracing mobile banking prior to the pandemic, and this survey shows that even more people now appreciate the ease of use and convenience these platforms offer. I expect the adoption rate only to grow from here.”

A breakdown of age demographics shows different preferences among different generations. More than half of Generation Z and Millennials use mobile banking apps most often (both pre- and amid-pandemic) while Generation X does so to a slightly lesser extent (35% pre-pandemic, 41% amid pandemic). The survey found that Baby Boomers most often utilize online banking (38% pre-pandemic, 42% amid pandemic). Visiting a bank branch was the second most-used method for Baby Boomers prior to the pandemic (25%), but fell to the third spot (15%) below mobile apps (24%) following the arrival of COVID-19. Telephone calls to the bank became the third most frequent method used by those in Generation Z amid the pandemic (an increase from 3% pre-pandemic to 7% amid pandemic). [See infographic for a full breakdown of top banking preferences by age].

“Our members have done an amazing job of serving those who want or need to bank in person by adapting their facilities and services according to CDC protocols,” said Morgan. “We have seen a range of creative solutions including full-service drive-through lanes and socially distanced meetings by appointment only.”

ABA also released an accompanying infographic highlighting the survey results. The data released today is the latest in a series of results gauging U.S. consumers’ preferences and opinions regarding banks and their services. ABA recently released survey data revealing that Americans are highly satisfied with their bank and the industry’s response to COVID-19, and that they trust banks most to keep their information safe and want regulated institutions to handle their finances. The full results for today’s survey questions are as follows:

When asked “Prior to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S., which method did you use most often to manage your bank account(s)?” consumers responded as follows:

  • Mobile (apps on smartphone or tablet) — 36%
  • Internet/Online (Laptop or PC) — 29%
  • Branches — 17%
  • ATM — 8%
  • Telephone (calls to your bank) — 5%
  • Mail — 2%
  • Don’t Know/no opinion — 3%

Pre-pandemic age breakdown:

  • Gen Z (1997-2012)
    • Mobile — 53%
    • Online — 15%
    • ATM — 9%
  • Millennials (1981-1996)
    • Mobile — 54%
    • Online — 18%
    • Branches — 11%
  • Gen X (1965-1980)
    • Mobile — 35%
    • Online — 30%
    • Branches — 14%
  • Baby Boomers (1946-1964)
    • Online — 38%
    • Branches — 25%
    • Mobile — 21%

When asked “And since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S., which method have you used most often to manage your bank account(s)?” consumers responded as follows:

  • Mobile (apps on smartphone or tablet) – 39%
  • Internet/Online (Laptop or PC) – 32%
  • Branches – 10%
  • ATM – 7%
  • Telephone (calls to your bank) – 6%
  • Mail – 3%
  • Don’t know/no opinion – 3%

Amid-pandemic age breakdown:

  • Gen Z (1997-2012)
    • Mobile — 53%
    • Online — 17%
    • ATM & Telephone (tie) — 7%
  • Millennials (1981-1996)
    • Mobile — 58%
    • Online — 20%
    • ATM — 8%
  • Gen X (1965-1980)
    • Mobile — 41%
    • Online — 30%
    • Branches — 8%
  • Baby Boomers (1946-1964)
    • Online — 42%
    • Mobile — 24%
    • Branches — 15%

*Since “Mobile” was first included as a possible response to ABA’s consumer survey question on most frequently used banking methods in 2009.

About the Survey
This poll was conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of the American Bankers Association from October 1-2, 2020, among a national sample of 2,200 adults. The interviews were conducted online and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of adults based on age, race/ethnicity, gender, educational attainment, and region. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.


About the American Bankers Association

The American Bankers Association is the voice of the nation’s $24 trillion banking industry, which is composed of small, regional and large banks that together employ more than 2 million people, safeguard $19.9 trillion in deposits and extend $11.4 trillion in loans.

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