The FINANCIAL– Top 5 trends reveal how digital became a primary channel for clients during the pandemic. Growth in digital engagement expected to continue as clients enjoy personalized experiences and embrace the ease and convenience of managing their financial lives anywhere and anytime. According to Bank of America last year, more and more people relied on digital connections and capabilities to manage multiple aspects of their daily lives. Through it all, Bank of America made it easy, convenient and secure for its clients to manage their finances through high-tech and high-touch channels.
“This past year digital capabilities were more important than ever to our clients,” said David Tyrie, head of digital at Bank of America. “Our investments in mobile and online channels over the last 10 years, along with new and enhanced capabilities introduced throughout last year, enabled us to deliver more personalized experiences for each client through a balance of digital and in-person tools and services across their entire relationship with us.”
Bank of America saw record levels of digital engagement among new and existing clients last year. The company’s 39 million digital clients, including 31 million active mobile users, increasingly adopted key features within its mobile and online platforms – including mobile check deposits and digital lending applications, Erica®, Zelle®, Life Plan® and CashPro®.
Surge in digital engagement – Today, approximately 70% of Bank of America consumer client households and small business clients and 77% wealth management client households are digitally active. Bank of America clients deposited 160 million checks using the mobile banking app in 2020. Last year, 84% of deposits were made through the company’s automated channels (mobile, online and ATMs), up from 78% the prior year. Digital sales accounted for 42% of total consumer sales last year, up from 30% in 2019. Furthermore, 68% of consumer mortgage sales and 74% of direct auto sales were made digitally, compared to 36% and 60% respectively in 2019. Challenges faced by clients last year also led many more to digitally schedule appointments, with 2.6 million arranging in-person and virtual appointments, a 14% increase year over year. Since April 2020, 25% of financial center traffic was driven by the company’s Bank by Appointment capability.
Virtual assistant becomes core to serving clients – Last year, 7 million clients used Erica for the first time. Launched in June 2018, Bank of America’s AI-driven virtual financial assistant now has more than 17 million total users, a year-over-year increase of 67% in 2020, and has helped clients with over 230 million requests. At the onset of the pandemic, Erica was trained to understand over 60,000 coronavirus-related terms and questions. More than half (58%) of all Erica interactions to date took place in 2020 alone, with 135 million client requests completed last year.
Significant growth in peer-to-peer payments – 13 million Bank of America clients are now active Zelle users, including small businesses, a 33% increase year-over-year. These clients sent and received more than 517 million transactions in 2020 totaling $141 billion, a year-over-year increase of 71% and 80% respectively.
Helping clients plan for what is most important to them – Bank of America’s latest digital experience, Life Plan, is one of the most rapidly-adopted offerings in the company’s history. With Life Plan, clients can set and track near- and long-term goals based on their life priorities, and better understand and act on steps toward achieving them. Since launching nationally in the fall of 2020, more than 2.3 million Life Plans have been created by clients within the Bank of America mobile app and online banking platform. Available in both English and Spanish, Life Plan can be used when meeting with the company’s financial professionals, either virtually or in person, enabling clients to have conversations about their life priorities.
More businesses using digital to manage and grow their companies – In 2020, clients increasingly turned to digital tools to more easily and conveniently manage and grow their businesses. Four out of five (81%) small business clients are now digitally active, and sales of products and solutions through digital channels increased to 24% last year, up from 10% in 2019. More than 500,000 commercial, corporate and business banking clients use CashPro, a complete digital banking platform to manage their payments, loans and liquidity. Last year, more than a million clients logged into their CashPro app, increasingly using their mobile device to authorize payments and deposit checks. Additionally, companies are increasingly adopting Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) as more realize their advantages, from immediate access to their data to foreign exchange rates to account reporting.
Last summer, the company also announced several enhancements to its mobile app. Within this single app, millions of Bank of America clients with either a Merrill investing or retirement relationship or a Bank of America Private Bank relationship can now benefit from: an integrated view of their accounts; extended support from Erica through insights on portfolio performance, trading, investment balances, quotes and holdings; the ability to access and execute trades for their Merrill investment accounts; and greater opportunity to maximize their benefits with a consolidated view of rewards and offers across all of their accounts.
“The client is at the center of everything we do within our digital experience, which is guided by three core principles: it has to be in the client’s best interest, provide information and advice that is relevant and timely, and always offer the choice of the next best step,” Tyrie added. “Going forward, we’ll continue to innovate and to be there to support our clients – tailoring banking, lending and investing experiences to each individual, in real time.”
Recent awards and recognition
Over the last 10 years, Bank of America’s commitment to delivering the best digital experiences for clients has helped the company become a global leader in digital banking, lending and investing. Throughout 2020, the company was recognized with more than 50 awards for its digital leadership, including such accolades as: “Best Consumer Digital Bank in the U.S.” by Global Finance, “North America’s Best Digital Bank” by Euromoney, “Best in Class” for the fourth consecutive year and recognition for excellence in mobile and online banking in the Javelin Strategy & Research 2020 Mobile Banking and 2020 Online Banking Scorecards, industry leader in The Forrester Banking Wave™: U.S. Mobile Apps report and in The Forrester Banking Digital Experience Review™: U.S. Mobile Apps report, and Stevie® Award in the 2020 American Business Awards® for the Bank of America mobile app.