Since COVID began, over 90 percent of Americans banked virtually at least once using an online website or a mobile app. Retail banking institutions JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America have both reported a substantial uptick in older consumers flocking to their digital offerings, as the coronavirus has limited access to branches. In the early months of the COVID lockdown, Bank of America reported that 23% of new logins to online and mobile products were by seniors and boomers, with many of those consumers testing out mobile check deposit and other digital services for the first time.
But different age groups bank differently, explains financial journalist Robyn A. Friedman.
The majority of young consumers age 30 to 44 rely on a mobile app for their banking needs, according to the American Bankers Association. That drops to only 22% of baby boomers age 55 to 64, and a scant 7% of those 65 and up.
Both baby boomers and the silent generation have concerns about remote banking, writes Friedman. “Although there are risks inherent in online banking, there are many advantages as well, particularly for older adults,” she writes. If you haven’t given online banking a try, here’s what you may be missing:
Advantages of Online Banking
It’s safer during the pandemic. Online or mobile banking is a great choice given COVID health concerns, especially among older and more vulnerable consumers.
It’s convenient. Banking at home or wherever you may be beats driving around town, parking, and standing in line at a branch. No surprise, then, that one in four people surveyed said they plan to use branches less or stop visiting them altogether when the crisis is over. “Once people begin favoring mobile-based account access, there’s no going back,” says one banking executive.
It lets you shop around. Banking online lets you open accounts at banks that may not have branches in your community. This could help you shop for the best interest rates or access special services you may need.
It can help stop fraud. Online banking lets you monitor transactions in your account more closely, avoiding fraudulent transactions or nipping them in the bud. Signing up for text alerts on your bank accounts or credit cards helps notify you of any unexpected or unknown transactions, and lets you take quick remedial action. Older consumers who want a second pair of eyes to review transactions can invite a trusted family member to share “view only” access on their account, giving them additional peace of mind.
It’s secure. Online banking is more advanced and secure than ever, say experts. Make sure to follow your bank’s security guidelines and consider adopting extra precautions like two-factor authentication to keep your accounts safe.
The Takeaway: Ready to give online banking a try, or confirm you’re doing it as safely as possible? Here’s some simple tips from AARP and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to optimize your banking for the digital age.