More Americans tap into digital banking

  • Article by: KATIE HUMPHREY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 26, 2013 - 6:29 PM
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A smartphone with mobile banking application.

There was a time, not all that long ago, when making a deposit meant walking into a bank. Paying bills called for writing checks, which required balancing a checkbook.

Now, a click or two takes care of it.

Digital banking is on the rise, according to the Pew Research Center, which reports that 51 percent of American adults use online banking. Among those with mobile phones, 35 percent have used the devices for banking, up from 18 percent in 2011.

As with most things digital, the younger set is leading the shift. (Just ask any 25-year-old when they last wrote a check.)

“We’re definitely seeing it,” said Armin Ajami, vice president and senior product manager of digital channels at Wells Fargo.

He said mobile banking, in particular, has been increasingly popular because of the rise of smartphones, now in the hands of half of American adults.

Wells Fargo offers apps for smartphones and tablets, text alerts and even mobile deposits if customers snap a picture of a check. Many other banks have similar options.

“From the customer perspective, it’s all about convenience,” Ajami said. “If I have a check these days, I tend to have it in my wallet a week before I get to the bank.”

Kevin O’Laughlin, a certified financial planner with Affiance Financial in St. Louis Park, said his clients like online and mobile banking because instant access to accounts makes it easier to track cashflow.

“Somebody can lay out their budget, and say, ‘I spend $1,000 a month on eating out,’ but oftentimes we find that people miss the mark a little bit,” he said, calling online banking a budget lie detector. “We can, with a few clicks, now examine what exactly was being spent on eating out.”

So even if you’re not going to balance a checkbook with pen and paper, it’s best to know your balance before heading out to dinner.

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