Financial Services

How mobile is transforming retail banking

January 30, 2015

North America

January 30, 2015

North America
Riva Richmond

Former editor

Riva Richmond is Director of Digital Media at The Story Exchange, a nonprofit digital media project that tells the stories of women entrepreneurs in articles and videos. Previously she worked as a Senior Editor with The Economist Intelligence Unit's Thought Leadership team in New York. She has reported and written about technology more than a decade, much of that time focused on information security and privacy issues. Prior to her current position, Riva was a freelance journalist writing for The New York Times,, The Wall Street Journal and other national publications.


Our grandfather’s retail bank was a columned building with tellers and velvet stanchions. Ours is fast becoming an icon among many on a tiny screen. This report and infographic, sponsored by SAP, explore how mobile technologies are transforming retail banking.

Report Summary

While the rise of mobile computing will not eliminate web, physical and other paths to customers, people around the world are embracing mobile technologies—and banks need to do so as well. Indeed, if they fail to help shape the change, they risk being swept aside by newcomers who enable mobile-empowered consumers to reach their financial goals and dreams.

This research programme, sponsored by SAP, explores how mobile technologies are transforming the retail-banking industry and finds that banks must embrace mobile if they are to satisfy and hold on to their customers in the future. 


"Banks and their regulators are going to have to embrace technology-driven innovation. Otherwise it will simply happen by stealth, driven by players outside the industry."

-Peter Sands, Chief executive of Standard Charted


Research Methodology

The Economist Intelligence Unit conducted two global surveys on mobile banking, sponsored by SAP: one of 111 banking executives in June 2014 and the other of 1,827 consumers in September 2014.

The executive survey. Nearly half (45%) of respondents served in the C-suite or board of directors, while 17% were at vice-president or director level or ran business units. Outside the “general management” category, the key functional areas were strategy and business development, finance and marketing and sales. The survey attracted executives at banks large and small. A quarter (24%) hailed from banks with assets greater than $100bn; two-thirds (66%) had more than 100,000 retail accounts. Half (50%) described their footprint as either global or multinational, while 18% described themselves as regional and 31% as national. About one-fifth (20%) of respondents came from North America, 23% from Asia and 18% from Latin America. EMEA accounted for 21% of respondents, with most (19%) from Middle and Eastern Europe (a designation covering the countries from Switzerland and Germany on the west to Russia on the east).

The consumer survey. Respondents to the consumer survey were from five regions and 48 countries. All currently use mobile devices and have bank accounts. About 13% of respondents were from the US, with 6% each from Brazil, Mexico, Canada, China, the UK and France; no other country accounted for more than 4%. Emerging markets were well-represented, with 19% of respondents hailing from the BRIC countries and another 48% from a more broadly defined group of emerging economies. About onefifth (19%) came from North America, 19% from Latin America, 23% from EMEA, 26% from AsiaPacific and 14% from Middle and Eastern Europe. The median survey-taker was in the 41-to-50 age group; the average age was 45. 

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