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October 13, 2015

Mobile Banking Users to Hit One Billion

New numbers from Juniper Research reveal that mobile banking is catching on, and in a big way, with mobile banking users on track to exceed one billion by the end of 2015, or almost one in every five people worldwide.

The new study—titled “Worldwide Digital Banking: Mobile, Online & Wearable 2015 – 2020”—actually represents a revision for Juniper Research, which needed to revise some of its earlier projections on mobile banking adoption. Indeed, previous projections suggested that the one billion mark would actually be cleared during the first half of 2016, not the end of 2015 as is currently believed.

Meanwhile, banking in general is becoming a more omnichannel effort, offering users access to online channels through an array of devices, as well as by the physical channel. The new changes are welcome for many bank customers—particularly for those in developed nations—but the retention of the physical channel is proving valuable as well. A certain percentage of users still prefer the face-to-face contact that only a branch teller can provide. But physical branch closures are likely to continue as banks move to what research author Nitin Bhas refers to as a “mobile first” concept.

Banks are reportedly taking a few lessons from Bitcoin, too; while Bitcoin itself has struggled to gain a foothold as anything but an investment fad, Bitcoin's blockchain—the technology behind the currency—is becoming a popular new addition to banks as a security measure. But banks are working to bolster security in other ways as mobile banking continues to catch on. The reports even suggest that, by the end of this year, almost one bill in five—19 percent of the total—will be paid via a device, be it PC, mobile or tablet, and global online banking users are expected to clear the 50 percent mark starting in 2016.

Back when online banking started to show up, there was a great concern that it was going to cost a lot of people a lot of jobs, and with good reason. After all, why pay a bank teller to stand around when no one comes in the bank? Soon all banking would be done by machine, a development that gave some people the willies. But it soon became clear that getting rid of the teller altogether just wasn't going to work; the machines weren't developing at a pace sufficient to allow users to go through all the standard practices without asking a question the machine couldn't handle. Thus, people were kept in place, and now we have a more balanced approach.

As Millennial, tech-savvy consumers step up to take the place of older Baby Boomer counterparts, more such changes will likely come into play. But there may well be some things that remain the same even in the midst of all this change, and the omnichannel concept will continue to include at least some human contact, even as mobile continues to make impressive gains.

Edited by Kyle Piscioniere

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