Perpetually Plugged In: America’s Smartphone Obsession Continues as Many Admit to Constant Connectivity

Bank of America Survey Reveals Reluctance to Disconnect; Growing Reliance on Mobile Extends to Banking, Payments

Monday, June 29, 2015 10:00 am EDT

Nearly four in 10 (38 percent) U.S. adult consumers never disconnect from their smartphones, and only 7 percent shut down entirely on vacation, according to a new report released today by Bank of America. In examining everyday use, the majority (89 percent) of adults check their smartphones at least several times a day, and more than one-third (36 percent) report they constantly check their devices. This growing dependency is also visible in managing finances: of those consumers who use a mobile banking app, nearly two-thirds (62 percent) access it at least a few times a week or more, while one in five (20 percent) check once a day or more.

These findings are part of the second annual Bank of America Trends in Consumer Mobility Report, a study that explores mobile trends and banking behaviors among adult consumers who own a smartphone and have an existing banking relationship at any financial institution. The survey found the desire for connectivity is so great that nearly three-quarters (71 percent) of respondents are sleeping with their smartphones, and for many, it is not only their last interaction of the evening, but the first thing they reach for in the morning (35 percent) before their coffee (17 percent), toothbrush (13 percent) or significant other (10 percent).

“We recognize how essential smartphones are to everyday life, and banking is no different,” said Michelle Moore, head of digital banking at Bank of America. “Bank of America has more than 17 million active mobile banking users, and this number is growing by more than 5,000 users per day. We are increasingly focused on providing solutions to meet the expectations of our customers, allowing them to do more with their phones and bank with us when, where and how they want.”

Increasing mobile banking use and payments adoption
The report revealed that more than half (51 percent) of respondents use mobile or online banking as their preferred method of banking. Less than one-quarter (23 percent), including just 6 percent of younger millennials ages 18–24, complete the majority of their transactions at a branch.

While nearly six in 10 (57 percent) respondents have tried mobile banking apps, almost half (48 percent) of all respondents are active mobile banking app users. In further examining current users, prominent activity includes:

  • Approximately four out of five (81 percent) receive mobile banking app notifications and alerts, with low balance (43 percent), deposit made (41 percent) and unusual activity (41 percent) representing the most popular alerts.
  • More than six in 10 (63 percent) are using mobile check deposit. Adoption of this feature is highest among older millennials ages 25–34, as nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of the generation report using the feature. At the same time, the survey showed a notable increase in those ages 50 and older: this year, 52 percent of that group used the feature, compared to 37 percent last year.
  • Nearly four in 10 (38 percent) use their mobile banking app to pay bills; about one-third (32 percent) use the app to locate a branch or ATM; and 15 percent manage investments via the app.

Mobile payments also saw significant growth this year. According to the report, more than half (56 percent) would consider paying someone using person-to-person payments via mobile banking app. More than one-third (34 percent) would consider or already have used their smartphone or wearable device to make a purchase at checkout.

Growing awareness of smartphone etiquette
With the increase in smartphone use comes a growing focus on mobile manners. Three-quarters (75 percent) of respondents say they have mobile boundaries, believing some places are not appropriate for mobile phone use. When asked about the most annoying place people use their smartphones, consumers cited movie theaters (31 percent), followed by religious institutions (18 percent) and restaurants (13 percent).

Americans also confessed to their own mobile behaviors, including texting during meal time (37 percent); checking their phone during conversation (32 percent); and taking a phone call on public transportation (27 percent).

Other notable highlights from the report include:

  • Mobile blunders: When asked about the most embarrassing thing that has happened involving their mobile device, nearly one-third (30 percent) of respondents were most embarrassed by loud ringtones going off in quiet places.
    • Other top responses included accidentally calling someone (19 percent) and sending a personal message/photo to the wrong person (16 percent).
    • Younger millennials ages 18–24 were most likely to cite being broken up with via text (5 percent) and getting caught taking a selfie in public (5 percent).
  • Age appropriate: Nearly half (46 percent) of respondents feel the most appropriate time for parents to buy their child a smartphone is ages 13–15.
  • Smartphone dependence: If asked to refrain from smartphone use, nearly half (44 percent) of Americans say they couldn’t last 24 hours.

Bank of America’s focus on mobile banking
Bank of America is continuously focused on providing customers ease and convenience in mobile banking. Bank of America’s mobile banking platform remains a key source of increased customer engagement and satisfaction with more than 17 million active users, growing at a rate of approximately 5,000 users per day. During the first quarter of 2015, mobile banking customers logged into their accounts more than 625 million times, or almost 40 times per user. During that same period, customers made nearly 19 million mobile bill payments and transferred money to others nearly 5 million times simply by using their phone number or email address. Customers also used their mobile devices to deposit more than 200,000 checks via mobile check deposit every day, and logged in 78,000 times to schedule appointments with a personal banker or financial center specialist.

About the Bank of America Trends in Consumer Mobility Report
Braun Research, Inc. (an independent market research company) conducted a nationally representative telephone survey on behalf of Bank of America April 13-26, 2015. Braun surveyed 1,000 respondents throughout the U.S., comprised of adults 18+ with a current banking relationship (checking or savings) and who own a smartphone. The survey was conducted by phone to a dual-frame landline and cell. In addition, 300 adults were surveyed in nine target markets: California, Florida, Texas, Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Denver and New York. The margin of error for the national quota (where n=1,011) is +/- 3.1 percent with a 95 percent confidence level; the margin of error for the oversampled markets (where n=301-307) is +/- 5.6 percent; and the margin of error for the oversampled markets (where n=300) is +/- 5.7 percent, with each reported at a 95 percent confidence level.

Bank of America
Bank of America is one of the world's largest financial institutions, serving individual consumers, small and middle-market businesses and large corporations with a full range of banking, investing, asset management and other financial and risk management products and services. The company provides unmatched convenience in the United States, serving approximately 48 million consumer and small business relationships with approximately 4,800 retail financial centers and approximately 15,900 ATMs and award-winning online banking with 31 million active users and approximately 17 million mobile users. Bank of America is among the world's leading wealth management companies and is a global leader in corporate and investment banking and trading across a broad range of asset classes, serving corporations, governments, institutions and individuals around the world. Bank of America offers industry-leading support to approximately 3 million small business owners through a suite of innovative, easy-to-use online products and services. The company serves clients through operations in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and more than 35 countries. Bank of America Corporation stock (NYSE: BAC) is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

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