Online Banking Usage Has Never Been Higher, Due to the Pandemic

By Plumas Bank March 1, 2021 Online banking

As access to mobile devices and high speed internet connectivity has grown exponentially year over year, so too has the need for businesses to undergo processes of digital transformation in order to meet the needs of increasingly internet-savvy consumers.

Before COVID-19, the impetus of driving digital transformation for businesses was hard to deny. In the wake of a highly communicable pandemic that has changed everything about public life as we know it, digital transformation has become critical to the survival of businesses of all kinds. Grocery stores and dining establishments have quickly adopted curbside pick up and delivery service models. Lodging vendors are exploring minimal-contact “touchless” bookings and check-in. Millions are working from home, pivoting to video conferencing via Zoom and Whereby for team meetings and large scale events alike.

And then there’s the banking industry, where a staggering 71 percent majority of consumers report using online banking services—and 43 percent of those surveyed by the Federal Reserve Bank report that they access banking products and services through their mobile devices. This was before the pandemic ushered people out of public circulation and into their homes. Evidence from our work at Plumas Bank signals that the trend has only grown in the COVID-19 era, with online processed transactions at our bank growing by approximately 236 percent.

Those numbers seem to indicate that online banking is rapidly becoming the norm—and that customers who’ve traditionally eschewed digital banking services are adopting their usage not only as a matter of necessity (which was certainly the case when banks were closed), but also as a matter of convenience.

People have grown accustomed to online banking, and it’s increasingly important for financial institutions like ours to develop seamless, secure customer experiences to meet rising demands and evolving expectations. Here are some of the things we’ve seen and done in the midst of radical change.

Mastering the Digital Purchase

As mentioned previously, multiple industries have undergone massive digital transformation over the past year. In 2020, over 80 percent of consumers turned to the internet to shop for groceries. There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that this trend extended to retailers of all stripes.

Concurrently, consumers—spurred by a desire to minimize contact and by warnings of a national coin shortage — increased their reliance on debit and credit cards to make purchases both online and at the handful of brick and mortar establishments they continued to patronize. This meant less visits to the ATM machine and more “cashless” electronic payments. It also spurred growth in the usage of “mobile wallets” like Apple Pay, which allow device users to link their debit and credit cards to their cellular phones, smart watches and other technologies and make payments at compatible point-of-sales systems.

Plumas Bank was prepared to support our customers as they made this transition. Our banking products and debit cards were already compatible with most mobile wallet services, and we provided instruction to our customers to ensure that they could make purchases from the comfort of their home—or on-the-go with their devices—without ever having to swipe a card.

Digital Transactions—and Support—Grows in Scope

While making purchases using a debit card and even mobile devices were becoming second nature well before the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw another interesting phenomenon take place over the last year: a rise in non-purchase banking transactions.

While in the past, banking clients were keen to check their balances and make transfers online at their desktops and on their mobile devices, they typically preferred to make deposits, explore new banking products and manage their investments at physical branch locations. As conditions changed throughout 2020, however, people began using remote deposit and accessing other banking services online as a rule rather than as an exception.

As a result, at Plumas Bank branches around the region, our service team reoriented itself to provide an evolved version of the highly individualized service we extend to each of our customers, making ourselves available to them around the clock as they encountered new questions about digital banking.

Looking Ahead

Much has been made about “getting back to normal”, and while there is much to look forward to in terms of getting out of our homes and back into the world, the fact is that many of the innovations and new conveniences found as a result of our rapid leap over the digital divide can and should remain even as our communities reopen. Many clients have found a sense of security and ease in the use of digital banking products and services, and those who would take that away from them are ill-advised.

Rather than pivoting away from the digital transformation of the banking industry, Plumas Bank is now thinking about ways we can continue the evolution of our services to provide our treasured clients with more of what they need and want—as conveniently and safely as possible. Though we’ve collectively faced a great deal of challenges in the past year, we’ve also discovered a treasure trove of opportunities to get better at doing what we love most: helping determined dreamers to make their financial aspirations a reality.


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*Rates, fees and borrower information in this article were current at the time of publication and are provided for illustrative and educational purposes. Contact your Plumas Bank loan officer for today’s rates, fees and lending information. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.