Smartphone usage has rocketed in recent years. In 2015, there were 1.86 billion smartphone users. This figure is expected to surpass five billion by 2019. In 2016, mobile overtook desktop browsing for the first time. This is significant because it means the way we access information is changing. Our addiction to mobile browsing is also changing the way we access financial services.
The Decline of High Street Banking
High street banking has seen a significant decline in the last five years. In December 2017, RBS announced it was axing 25% of its branches. It wasn’t the only bank to adopt this controversial policy. BBC research found that 948 branches closed their doors in 2017. Banks are blaming the rise in mobile banking technology for the closures, but with only 71 customers walking through the doors of any one branch, who can blame them?
Mobile payments shot up by 54% in 2015. Customers don’t need to visit their local bank anymore. They can make payments, access their account details, and open a new account from the comfort of their own home, 24/7. Mobile apps are now the preferred way to access our bank. Research shows that we use banking apps 7,610 times a minute.
The Rise of Mobile
Mobile app developers are becoming increasingly innovative. Apps have evolved from simple programs that allow us to check our balance, to sophisticated applications that warn us when our balance is looking a bit grim. But, while mobile banking services are becoming more and more complex, some customers prefer the personal touch of a high street bank.
Elderly people living in remote communities are the demographic most impacted by the rise of mobile technology. Many older people don’t have smartphones or access to the internet, so the loss of their high street bank branch is a major blow. Thankfully, not all banks believe local branches are dead in the water. Metro Bank, a relative newcomer to the UK banking scene, is expanding its network of bank branches in London and the South East, creating 500 new jobs in the process.
The rise of mobile is not limited to the financial services sector – mobile is also having a major effect in the world of online trading. Thanks to the availability of mobile trading apps and online trading platforms, would-be traders don’t need to work for a major investment bank in the City.
Anyone can trade online these days and the financial markets are open to anyone with an appetite for risk and an internet connection. Online traders have access to trading accounts, live market news, and in-depth trend analysis. Part-time investors are taking advantage and getting their feet wet.
A good example of the rising popularity of online trading is the increased trading volumes in the Forex market. Trading volumes hit $5.09 trillion in October 2016. Forex is clearly a growth market, but it isn’t the only one. Anyone can buy/sell shares, have a go at currency spread betting, invest in CFDs, or jump into cryptocurrencies.
Technology has eroded the barriers and made it easier than ever for ordinary people to access their money and invest in the markets. While for the most part, this is a good thing, it is doubtful that technology will ever completely eliminate the need for human interaction somewhere in the process. At least, we hope not.