MacroMonitor Market Trends March 2012

MacroMonitor Market Trends is a newsletter from Consumer Financial Decisions that highlights topical news and trends of interest to you and your colleagues. If you would like more information about the topic in the newsletter or would like to discuss other ways that we can assist you in your research and marketing efforts, please contact us.

Financial Services and Smartphones

Many financial-services providers are challenged to develop effective social-media strategies. Reports suggest that smartphones, not computers, will account for most social-media growth. At present, however, social-media companies struggle to serve their content on the small screen. Depending on whether or not an institution counts heavy social-media users as customers (see Consumers' Use of Social Media to learn more), websites and mobile apps—more than social media—might serve both providers and customers better. To help calibrate the importance of mobile-device use to financial institutions, MacroMonitor data show the proportions of households that use their smartphones for financial activities.

In 2010, about 44% of households owned a smartphone; about half of these households have engaged in one or more financial activities on their device in the past two years. Some activities—such as stock trades (5% of households) and peer-to-peer (P2P) transactions (5% of households)—have low use. Other smartphone activities—such as checking on account balances—have a firm foothold; one-third of households with a smartphone have checked their balances.

Figure 1: Smartphones and Financial Activities in the Past Two Years

Some financial activities are easier to imagine than others. For example, households headed by young adults who need to track cash flow closely are more likely to check account balances; some—but not all—of these households are also more likely to use account alerts. Emerging activities such as P2P are not confined to young households. In fact, early adopters include both middle-income and wealthy households.

To learn about your organization's customers' smartphone use for financial activities, contact CFD.