Phoenix Synergistics: Mobilizing the Checking Account

July 2018 | Adapting Checking to a Digital Marketplace | Online, Mobile, and Value-Added Services | Account Management and Opening; Payments

Survey Topics

  • Main Checking Account
  • Provider Issues
  • Current ATM Activity
  • Online/Mobile Access to Checking Accounts
  • Mobile Payments
  • Rewards and Debit Card Activity


National Internet Survey – The survey includes 1,500 online interviews with consumers age 18 or older.

Key Dates

April 27, 2018 – Final acceptance of client comments on the questionnaire.

April 27, 2018 – Charter fee date.

June 2018 – Initial results available.

July 2018 – Project Report available.

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Checking accounts – perhaps the most traditional service offered by financial institutions – are now skating on the edge of becoming obsolete.  As everything goes mobile, paperless, and cardless, checking accounts need to evolve to survive in this new reality.  Check writing continues to decline, while debit cards have become one of the most popular forms of payment, particularly among Millennials.  Will the increasing usage of mobile options such as mobile payments enhance or threaten the popularity of debit cards?

Handling checking activities online via a computer has become commonplace today.  In addition, most providers offer mobile apps that facilitate a number of checking-related banking activities such as bill payment, transfers, deposits, and person-to-person payments.  But are there other account management and payment-related activities or features consumers would like to have available in an online or mobile mode?  Some providers are adding biometric identification and debit card on/off capability to boost security, as well as other value-added services.  How satisfied are consumers with the mobile and online offerings of their financial institution?

Providers now offer the ability to apply for checking accounts online, as well as help with moving accounts.  While applying online is convenient, some have expressed frustration with the process or even abandoned applications they started online.  Would consumers be willing to interact with bank representatives via their PC or mobile phone as an alternative to in-branch contact?  As the current financial environment swirls with activity, traditional institutions also face competition from new players offering a variety of mobile and online payment options that  threaten the utility of the checking account.  It is imperative for financial institutions to measure consumer attitudes, behavior, and needs in order to adapt their checking products for the future.

  • Profile checking account activity among households in terms of types of accounts, providers, and monthly activity. Measure multiple account usage. Examine recent account opening and the factors or motivations influencing this.
  • Examine consumers’ online, mobile, and digital involvement in using and managing their checking accounts. Detail behavior in terms of devices used, activities performed, and frequency of access. Ascertain “trigger events” – if any – for adoption of mobile banking.  Assess the importance of online and mobile access relative to other channels.
  • Measure satisfaction with the checking account relationship – both overall and in terms of specific features or aspects – such as customer service, pricing, and online and mobile access channels. Capture NPS measures in relation to the main checking provider.
  • Evaluate the state of consumer adoption of a number of mobile advancements related to the checking account – including mobile RDC, mobile P2P payments, innovative features for mobile apps, and mobile payments at the point of sale. Examine experience with online account opening for checking accounts. Gauge receptivity to an all digital checking account.
  • Assess consumer reaction to innovative or “value-added” services and benefits for the checking account. Examine experience with and response to relationship reward programs. Ascertain the importance of  features such as free ATM access, overdraft protection, and debit card “on/off” capability.
  • Measure the feasibility of converting the small segment of consumers who do not use checking accounts. Examine the reasons or motivations for this non-adoption. Determine if nontraditional or alternative providers appeal to this segment – as well as to all consumers.
  • Identify customer segments – in terms of demographic, behavioral, or attitudinal traits – that should be targeted innovative checking account features, services, and benefits.

In the 2016 Phoenix Synergistics survey, Designing Checking Accounts for Today’s Consumers, findings revealed that a significant minority of consumers – and a majority of younger consumers – expressed interest in a digital or checkless checking account that relied solely on the usage of debit cards and online/mobile services. 

The same 2016 survey revealed that only a minority of consumers in the market for a new checking account would be likely to apply for the account online.

Has this changed over the past two years?

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