Digital Usage Blows Up at BofA, Wells

  • JJ Hornblass
  • January 13, 2017
  • 1

canstockphoto22717251You might as well call them e-Bank of America and Wells Fargo Digital Bank.

Both BofA and Wells, the No. 2 and No. 3 ranked banks in the U.S., respectively, today for the first time released usage numbers for their digital banking operations, and they are eyepopping.

BofA got 112 million weekly digital interactions last quarter, up 11% year-over-year, on 33.8 million active online banking accounts and 21.6 million active mobile users. That compares to 13 million uses per week for ATMs, 10 million for phone and 5 million for its branches. Combined, ATM, phone and branch usage fell 8% YOY.

At Wells, the usage numbers are equally massive (although Wells offered less detail on usage in its earnings today). Wells announced that “total digital secure sessions,” which include online and mobile, reached 479.2 million in December 2016, up 4% from the same month in 2016, on 27.3 active digital customers, which includes both online and mobile. That’s 8.7x the amount of usage Wells’s branch network got during the month. Wells’s mobile users reached 19.6 million for the quarter.

If we convert Wells’s digital usage into an average weekly amount, it likely generates around 120 million interactions per week, as compared to BofA’s 112 million.

(JPMorgan Chase & Co., which also released its quarterly earnings today, did not provide data on digital channel usage.)

These numbers have profound implications. BofA also disclosed today that 20% of its total sales are “digital sales.” Even if that’s an amorphous definition, just the fact that the usage numbers have made it to BofA’s and Wells’s quarterly earnings presentation is a sign that digital has become a core factor and function at the nation’s major financial institutions. Not that that should surprise any reader of this blog, but it is meaningful to see the numbers, which are the result of less than 10 years of technological evolution.

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JJ started the first iteration of Bank Innovation back in 2007, and has been working on it ever since. He also serves as President & Chief Executive Officer of Royal Media, Bank Innovation’s parent. He founded Royal in 1995 and oversees all aspects of the New York-based diversified media company. Prior to forming Royal, JJ was on the editorial staff of American Banker, the daily newspaper, and worked as an editor of a business magazine in Hong Kong. As a reporter and editor, he has won journalism awards from the National Press Foundation, Newsletter & Electronic Publishers Foundation, and the Reader’s Digest Foundation. He has a BS in Economics from Yeshiva University and a Master’s from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He was also a Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Graduate School of Banking. He lives in New York City with his wife, two daughters, and son. He counts among his accomplishments one New York City Marathon, two New York City Triathlons and the 2010 Father’s Day 5K, the first race he ever ran with his daughters. He can be reached at hornblass@gmail.com or 212-564-8972.

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