Getting to know your customers: Part 1

Lelanie de Roubaix|27 June 2019
Getting to know your customers: Part 1

Who are the most frequent users of mobile banking apps, and why is it important that banks get to know them? This two-part series takes a closer look.

Know your customer, or KYC as it’s often referred to, is not a strange term to financial services industry professionals. Regulations across the world require financial services providers to have certain, often very specific, measures in place to ensure they’re conducting business with legitimate account holders. This helps combat various forms of fraud, protecting both the service provider and its customers.

But in a recent survey commissioned by Entersekt and conducted online by The Harris Poll, KYC took on a more literal meaning. We polled over 1,900 US adults who own a mobile device, among whom over 1,300 use banking apps once a month or more often (regular users), on their use of, and preferences for, mobile banking and payments apps. In addition to learning what they want from these apps, we also gained invaluable insights into the regular users of mobile banking apps themselves.

Use of mobile banking apps

As a starting point, the survey found that 92% of American adults own a mobile device. This was not surprising – we know from a range of sources, such as the GSMA, that mobile penetration is at an all-time high, and the US is no exception. We were specifically interested in these mobile device owners’ use of banking apps, as well as learning more about the users of banking apps. The survey data shows that 71% of American mobile device owners are regular users of mobile banking apps, using them at least once a month. This is a little higher than other published data, such as Javelin’s study that mobile banking penetration is 53%; however, that survey accounts for the entire US population, and not just mobile phone users. Based on our survey, we found a significant cohort (59%) of what we’ll call “super users”: mobile device owners who use banking apps at least once a week.

mobile banking app usage

Profiling the regular users

As mentioned earlier, we were particularly interested in getting to know the regular users of banking apps. The demographics measured in the survey enable us to do exactly that, and compare banking app use among different groups, drawing comparisons by gender, age, income, employment status, marital status, etc.

When comparing banking app use of men and women, the survey shows that a higher percentage of male device owners report using banking apps (80% vs. 72% of female device owners) and using them more frequently (once a month or more often – 75% vs. 68%; once a week or more often – 62% vs. 55%) than female device owners. What is particularly interesting to note is that the percentage of male device owners that use banking apps at least once a month (75%) is higher than the percentage of female device owners that use banking apps at all (72%).

mobile banking apps usage by gender

Comparing the use of banking apps among different age groups is especially insightful when one looks at the youngest two age groups: ages 18–34 and 35–44. Across all categories related to the frequency of banking app use (use at all, use at least once a month, use at least once a week), the highest proportion of users is mobile device owners in the age group 35–44 (89%, 86%, and 73%, respectively). It might be viewed as somewhat surprising that the youngest age group (device owners aged 18–34) doesn’t have the highest proportion of banking app users overall (86%), if one argues that the younger generation, the so-called digital natives, are often portrayed as mobile-first in everything they do. It should be noted, however, that, when looking at the percentages, there is no significant difference in the banking app use of these two age groups. This means that device owners aged 18–34 are just as likely to be banking app users across all frequencies of use as those aged 35–44.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, there is a notable drop in the proportion of banking app users among the older generations of device owners: 77% of 45–54-year-olds and 69% of 55–64-year-olds use banking apps, but only 52% of those aged 65 and over do.

mobile banking app usage by age

Statistics of banking app usage based on level of income show that device owners with higher annual household incomes (HHI) ($50K or more) are more likely than those with lower annual household incomes (less than $50K) to use banking apps (79% vs. 70%), and the difference among the higher income groups is not significant: 78% of those with an HHI of $50K–$74.9K, 80% of those with an HHI of $75K–$99.9K, and 79% of those with an HHI of $100K or more use banking apps. When it comes to “super users”, similar differences between high and low annual household income groups are prevalent – only about half (51%) of device owners with a lower annual household income of less than $50k use banking apps at least once a week compared to 63% of device owners with an HHI of $50K or more. Percentages of “super users” in the three highest income groups are not significantly different either – (64% of device owners with an HHI of between $50,000 and $74,999 are “super users”, compared to 65% of device owners with an HHI of between $75,000 and $99,999, and 61% with an HHI of $100K and above).

mobile banking app usage by income

Related to income, a larger proportion of employed device owners (82%) use banking apps compared to those who are not currently employed (65%).

mobile banking app usage by status

Whereas almost 4 in 5 employed device owners (79%) use banking apps at least once a month, only 59% of those who are not currently employed do. What’s more, the percentage of employed device owners that use banking apps at least once a week (67%) is higher than the percentage of device owners not currently employed that use banking apps at all (65%).

When looking at usage overall by marital status, there is no significant difference between married and not married device owners (75% and 76%). However, the “super users” category shows a significant difference: 55% of married device owners use banking apps at least once a week, compared to 62% of their unmarried counterparts.

mobile banking app usage by marital status

The last demographic category we’ll take a closer look at is arguably the most surprising. It measures the use of banking apps among mobile device owners that are parents of children under 18, versus those that are not.

mobile banking app usage by parents

While 90% of device owners that are parents of children under 18 use banking apps at all, only 69% of those that are not parents of children under 18 do. Equally significant differences appear among device owners that use their apps at least once a month: 87% of parents of children under 18 compared to 64% of those who are not. The same goes for “super users”: 74% of device owners who are parents of children under 18 use banking apps at least once a week, while only 51% of those who are not parents of children under 18 use them weekly or more often.

Digging deeper

In the next installment of this two-part series, we look at what all these numbers tell us, and what KYC really means for banks.

Survey method:

This survey was conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of Entersekt, January 22–24, 2019 among 2,076 US adults, aged 18 and over, among whom 1,928 are mobile device owners, including 1,362 who use banking apps once a month or more often. This survey was not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For more information on survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To see more results of this survey and get a sense of Americans’ use of banking apps as well as payments apps, download our main survey report here.

About the author

Lelanie de Roubaix

Lelanie de Roubaix

MARKETING MANAGER: RESEARCH & STRATEGIC RELATIONS

Lelanie is Entersekt’s research specialist. She keeps a close eye on what’s happening in the industry for Entersekt, and on what’s happening at Entersekt for the industry. When she’s not reading or writing, she takes care of analyst and other strategic relations for Entersekt’s marketing team.

Subscribe to our newsletter for our latest news, press releases and events

logo entersekt

Entersekt is an international software development company based just outside of Cape Town, South Africa.

We are leaders in authentication, app security, and payments enablement technology, offering a highly scalable solution set with a track record of success across multiple continents.