Smartphones have dramatically changed just about everything we do, and how we bank is right up there. According to a new report by the U.S. Federal Reserve, the use of mobile phones to access bank accounts, credit cards and other financial transactions is now commonplace among U.S. consumers.
First of all, the Fed offers a bit of background concerning how we've gotten here.
It started annual surveys back in 2011 to examine trends in "the adoption and use of mobile banking, payments, and shopping behavior and how the emergence of mobile financial services affects consumers' interaction with financial services."
This latest report uses findings from the 2014 survey, which questioned 2,900 people and was completed last December. Two of the biggest takeaways: 87 percent of U.S. adults have a mobile phone, and 71 percent of those mobile phones are Internet-enabled smartphones, a rise of 10 percent from a year earlier.
The survey also found that 39 percent of adults with both mobile phones and bank accounts reported using mobile banking -- a 33 percent increase in usage from 2013. The most common task mobile bankers performed was checking their account balances or recent transactions, followed by transferring money between accounts. Receiving alerts from financial institutions via text message, push notification or e-mail was third.
Consumers who use mobile banking are also becoming more comfortable with "remote deposit capture," or electronically depositing a check to a banking account using a mobile phone camera. The survey said more than half of mobile banking users had used their mobile phones to deposit checks, compared to 38 percent in 2013.
And while the survey found that around 14 percent of consumers are still part of what it calls the underbanked, meaning people with limited access to financial institutions, over two-thirds of this group has access to a mobile phone.
Mobile phones are also changing the way many consumers now make their payments. The survey noted 22 percent of all mobile phone owners reported having made a mobile payment in the 12 months prior to the survey, compared to 15 percent in 2012 and 17 percent in 2013.