Bank Watch

Survey: BofA customers most open to paying for mobile banking

Among Bank of America customers, 33 percent indicated a willingness to pay a monthly fee for mobile banking, the highest percentage for any bank, according to a new study.
Among Bank of America customers, 33 percent indicated a willingness to pay a monthly fee for mobile banking, the highest percentage for any bank, according to a new study. AP

Some bank customers would actually pay to use their lender’s mobile app, according to the results of a new survey – and customers of Charlotte-based Bank of America are the most open to the idea.

Research company SNL Financial last week released the findings of the survey, which asked customers of nine large U.S. banks if they would be willing to pay $3 a month to keep using their banks’ apps.

Among Bank of America customers, 33 percent indicated a willingness to pay the fee, the highest percentage for any bank. Citigroup customers came in second, at 31 percent.

It’s not clear from the report why Bank of America’s customers were more receptive to the fee.

For the other seven banks, here’s the breakdown of customers who said they would pay $3 a month for mobile banking:

▪ U.S. Bank, 29 percent

▪ TD Bank, 26 percent

▪ USAA, 25 percent

▪ Wells Fargo, 24 percent

▪ Chase Bank, 24 percent

▪ PNC Bank, 22 percent

▪ Capital One, 18 percent

For banks, the findings may be thought-provoking at a time when low interest rates have made it tougher for them to grow revenues and their profitability has been constrained by a variety of factors, including costs to keep resolving legal probes.

At the same time, banks have watched as rising numbers of their customers adopt mobile banking in order to perform transactions quickly on their smartphones instead of spending time going to a branch or an automated teller machine. Services like ApplePay are further making consumers think of their smartphones as a tool for financial transactions.

The increasing popularity of mobile banking is putting pressure on banks to keep upgrading their mobile apps to stay competitive. On Monday, for example, Wells Fargo announced it has begun offering a Spanish language setting for its mobile app.

“Well, banks are definitely wondering if and how they can make money from mobile,” SNL analyst John Fletcher said in a statement. “Right now I think supporting a mobile app is more an expense for them than a revenue generator.”

At this time, no banks are charging a fee for mobile banking as far as SNL is aware, Fletcher said.

And that’s not surprising: As history has shown, raising fees can be a risky move for banks’ reputations.

Bank of America, for example, in 2011 was forced to back off from a planned $5 monthly fee for customers to use debit cards following strong public backlash.

Roberts: 704-358-5248;

Twitter: @DeonERoberts

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