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Bank of America's Mobile App Is 12 Times More Popular Than Its Branches

By John Maxfield – Jul 20, 2016 at 5:20PM

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After placing first in two-out-of-three recent mobile-banking surveys, Bank of America is upping its game. It will soon release an updated version of its mobile app, which will purportedly enable customers to withdraw cash from ATMs without a debit card.

Image source: iStock/Thinkstock.

All of the nation's largest banks are working feverishly to take advantage of the digital revolution. At the forefront of this movement is Bank of America (BAC -1.98%), which has placed first in terms of mobile banking in two out of the past three Keynote Scorecards, which rank banks based on consumer-facing digital capabilities.

Bank of America's latest quarterly results, released at the beginning of this week, underscore this point. As you can see in the three charts below, the nation's second-biggest bank by assets continues to make considerable strides on the mobile-banking front.

1. Active mobile users

Bank of America ended the second quarter with 20.2 million regular users of its mobile app. That represented a 6% increase from the first quarter, and a 15% increase over the year-ago period.

Data source: Bank of America's 2Q16 earnings presentation.

The popularity of Bank of America's mobile app goes beyond simply using it to check one's checking account balance. In addition to depositing checks, which I expand on below, customers are also using the bank's digital channels to schedule appointments at one of the bank's branches. An estimated 289,000 digital appointments were scheduled at the bank in the second quarter.

This illustrates the importance of having both physical and digital delivery channels. It also cuts down on the demand for call centers, which should play into Bank of America's goal to reduce annual expenses by an additional $3 billion by 2018.

2. Mobile deposits

One of the most-popular features of modern banking apps is the ability to deposit checks remotely, as opposed to having to drive to a branch or an ATM to do so. In the most-recent quarter, more than 20 million checks were deposited via Bank of America's mobile app.

So many of Bank of America's customers are using its app to deposit checks, that the mobile channel now accounts for a meaningful portion of its total deposit transactions. Mobile deposits made up 17% of its total deposit transactions in the three months ended June 30.

Data source: Bank of America's 2Q16 earnings presentation.

As CEO Brian Moynihan pointed out on Bank of America's earnings call, this equates to 800 physical branches, which, suffice it to say, are more expensive to operate than a mobile application. According to Moynihan, a mobile deposit costs one-tenth that of an in-branch deposit.

3. Weekly channel usage

The final chart illustrates just how thoroughly the mobile-banking revolution has changed the way financial products and services are delivered. It shows the average number of weekly interactions that Bank of America has with its customers by delivery channel.

Data source: Bank of America's 2Q16 earnings presentation.

In a typical week, as you can see, Bank of America's customers log into its mobile app 72 million times, its website 40 million times, and visit its financial centers 6 million times. This explains why mobile banking is such a priority at Bank of America.

To this end, Bank of America will soon release a redesigned mobile app. In addition to an "improved layout and easier-to-use and easier-to-find features," it will also offer new credit-card features, and purportedly, the functionality to use the app in lieu of a debit card to withdraw money from an ATM.

In short, while tracking Bank of America's progress on the mobile-banking front probably doesn't rank at the top of most investors' and analysts' priorities, this doesn't mean that it's not important. Staying at the forefront of the digital-banking revolution will not only help the bank attract and retain customers, it will also help it to reduce expenses, which has become an increasingly important priority in an era of ultra-low interest rates.

John Maxfield owns shares of Bank of America. The Motley Fool recommends Bank of America. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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