NYC Mobile Banking Study: Underbanked Much More Likely To Accept Texts

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A new mobile banking analysis just published by New York City government officials found that underbanked consumers were more likely to use text or e-mail alerts as well as engage in more frequent money transfers. But those underbanked were also the most concerned about financial data privacy.

“Relative to national averages, ownership of mobile phones, including smartphones, was higher among New York City survey respondents. Nearly all respondents (95.8 percent) reported owning a cell phone, and 79 percent of cell phone owners had smartphones. In comparison, the Federal Reserve Board’s report found that approximately 87 percent of American adults own a cell phone and 71 percent have a smartphone,” said the report. “Rates of smartphone ownership were particularly high among immigrant respondents, those who are younger, and those with higher incomes, but even those with low incomes ($0/week) also had high rates of smartphone usage (66.5 percent).”

But the most interesting parts of the in-depth report were the behavioral differences discovered.

“The unbanked were more likely to share their mobile phones than the banked and underbanked. The way in which respondents reported paying for their mobile phones also differed across banking status: the banked were much more likely than the underbanked and unbanked to report having a monthly contract for their phone, while the unbanked and the underbanked reported using prepaid cell phones at much greater rates than the banked,” the report said. “Banked smartphone users were more likely to have iPhones, while underbanked and unbanked smartphone users were more likely to have Android phones.”

Although most (almost 70 percent) noted that they had received either a text or e-mail alert from their bank in the prior 12 months, it was the underbanked who were much more likely to be receptive to them. Less surprising was the finding that text/e-mail receptiveness falls as age increases, with 18-29-year-olds hitting 81.5 percent compared with 50.3 percent for those older than 60.

Interestingly enough, text/e-mail alerts were more attractive to immigrants (75.4 percent) and the unemployed (73.1 percent).

The report also explored how often consumers made mobile payments.

“Rates of frequent mobile payments were highest among the underbanked (24.2 percent), immigrant respondents (29.3 percent), people ages 18-29 (24 percent), and those with a weekly income of $200-$399 (38.9 percent),” the report said. “Payment by text was particularly uncommon among all respondents (12 percent), though the underbanked (19.1 percent) and those ages 18-29 (14.9 percent) more commonly reported use than the overall sample.”

The report also noted that financial management services—such as helping consumersd track expenses, budget and potentially make financial decisions—”were the least common form of mobile financial services respondents reported using (23.9 percent). This is especially interesting, given that investments in financial technology, including mobile financial management services, are ballooning.”

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