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TheStreet Open House

It's Actually Youngest Customers Clinging to Bank Branches

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Financial consumers have a romantic notion of "breaking free" with digital banks, but they're not quite ready to abandon the comforting reality of the venerable bank branch.

A study from London-based Accenture illustrates that, showing that while 25% of consumers say they like the idea of a digital-only bank, the number of bank customers using branch offices are on the rise.

Interestingly, it's the very youngest customers -- the 18-to-24 demographic financial institutions want to latch onto and hang on to for life -- that are least open to digital-only banks, Accenture says. (Although the 25-to-34 demographic love the idea of branchless banks the most.)

Also see: CFPB Looks at Mobile Banking, With the 'Underbanked' as a Focus

"The survey underscores the growing complexity in how consumers want to interact with banks in the digital age," says Peter Kirk, a managing director at Accenture. "The youngest, most tech-savvy-customers still value face-to-face contact as they begin their life's financial journey, whereas older customers who are further along in their work life are more open to a digital-only relationship."

While "there is also evidence that some customers are not satisfied by their banks' current digital offerings," Kirk says, there is no doubt more and more financial consumers bank online in various ways. According to Accenture, 80% of survey participants have used their bank digitally at least once in the past month, while the percentage of customers who have used mobile banking is at 27% this year, up from 10% in 2011.

But branch visits are up, too. Accenture reports the number of customers visiting a branch at least once a month has risen from 45% in 2012 to 52% this year.

"This presents difficult questions for banks as they look to balance digital channels with costly branch networks and deliver relevant services," Kirk adds.

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