My daughter is 33, and her husband 34. My son is 27, as is his wife. All are using mobile banking and can’t imagine why they would travel to a branch to transact business. You may be thinking, our most profitable customers are over 55, and the vast majority of our deposits are with customers over 55, so why is this an issue now? Here comes the tidal wave… A new study by Berg Insight AB predicts that “the number of active users of mobile banking and related financial services worldwide is forecasted to increase from 55 million in 2009 to 894 million in 2015.” That is an increase of more than sixteenfold and has the potential to result in dramatic changes to our delivery channels in only three years. The remote-capture, bill-pay, and account-transfer aspects of these devices appeal not only to the young, and some research by Nielson suggests that the characteristics of mobile users do not fit a strict age or income profile. This makes us think more carefully about our past adoption rates for new services and what the implications are for the industry.

The challenges and opportunities are clear: How quickly do we need to alter our marketing efforts significantly to this new dynamic? How much of the channel shift will be within our existing customer base, and how much will be new? What are the cost implications if we continue to run parallel delivery channels? How do we help our customers through the transition with our new applications? Do we “Apple Store” their experience and make it fun and “current?” The end result of this shift can become epic for those who wait.

Many benefits have been documented on the lower cost of service, but what is also clear is that mobile customers will leave specific footprints on how they engage with us, which will allow easier analysis of customer behaviors than our current data. Business analytics is becoming a more and more central element to marketing and to finding what drives profitable customers. It is important to devise a plan and then to position the bank to take advantage of this perfect storm of our population’s newfound technological ability, the customers’ increasing preference for convenience offered by mobile banking, and our banks’ expanding delivery capabilities. The first step is to see the storm coming and get ready.