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Mobile Bank Apps Are Free, But Some Customers Might Pay

Mobile banking is a must-have for many bank customers, and it seems that most users expect to have access to their apps for free.

While the 2016 Mobile Money survey by S&P Global Market Intelligence found that a majority of customers are unwilling to pay for mobile bank apps, there are a few demographic pockets in which the idea of a fee is more acceptable. The nationwide survey of 3,897 mobile bank app users was fielded from Jan. 23 to Feb. 3; it asked respondents about their willingness to pay either $3 or $1 per month to continue using their bank's mobile app.

Who is willing to pay to use a mobile bank app

Age was the strongest indicator of one's willingness to pay. Millennials registered the highest tolerance for monthly mobile bank apps fees of both $3 and $1. After millennials, willingness to pay a monthly fee for bank apps, at either price point, declines as age rises.

With respect to income, willingness to pay $1 per month was stronger among lower to middle-income earners ($35,000 to $74,999 per year and less than $35,000 per year). These results highlight the age correlation at work; 81% of millennial survey respondents reported earning less than $75,000 per year.

Willingness to pay $3 per month was fairly even across income cohorts but slightly stronger among the two middle income brackets.

Age was the strongest indicator of one’s willingness to pay
In order to measure willingness to pay across different parts of the U.S., the survey sampled 433 bank app users in each of the nine U.S. census regions. For an apples-to-apples comparison, sample populations were constrained to be demographically representative of the country by age and gender.

The mid-Atlantic region, which includes New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, proved most receptive to the idea of monthly bank app fees, with 45% willing to pay $1 per month and 26% willing to pay $3 per month. The regions with the least interest in paying a monthly $1 fee include New England (37%), the Pacific region (36%) and the mountain region (35%).

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