Bank of America Knows What You're Doing in Bed

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Bank of America (BAC) knows not only how clients use its mobile app but that 71% of of them take their smartphones to bed and are more likely to reach for the device than their significant other when they wake up.

Those usage patterns, detailed in Bank of America's "Trends in Consumer Mobility Report" this week, all affect the Charlotte, North Carolina-based company's rapidly growing mobile business, which has over 17 million active users and is adding 5,000 new ones daily.

"We are increasingly focused on providing solutions to meet the expectations of our customers, allowing them to do more with their phones and bank with us when, where and how they want," said Michelle Moore, head of digital banking. 

Bank of America's findings mirror developments at rivals JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Wells Fargo (WFC). While mobile bank apps were once primarily used to check balances on the go, they are increasingly being used to make payments and deposit checks.

Still, old-fashioned branch business has its place: Bank of America found that 83% of its respondents visited a branch in the past six months. During a conference in May, Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf said 75% of his bank's clients had used a branch in the same period.

The pattern holds nationwide, with branch visits still dominating consumer preferences, followed closely by online banking, according to a Federal Reserve survey in March. While mobile banking lags far behind, with most apps not offering the range of services available on the Web, usage has been increasing sharply.

Source: Federal Reserve

Bank of America is interested in more than how its customers interact with the company's app, however. Its survey examined mobile phone use in general and found that Americans are obsessed with their smartphones -- perhaps to the detriment of personal relationships.

Not only did a majority of responders admit taking their phones to bed, 23% admitted to at least once falling asleep with their cell phone in their hands. For members of the millennial generation, born between 1980 and 2000, that figure jumped to 44%.

This leaves little time for romance: 35% of respondents said they reach for their cell phone after waking up compared with only 10% reaching for their significant other. To be fair, more people are using cell phones as alarm clocks, so that first morning reach could be simply to push the digital snooze button.

A recent survey of U.S. adults by Harris Interactive uncovered similar trends. It also found that Americans perceive technology as both encouraging creativity and making them lazier, with the latter statistic on the rise, said Larry Shannon-Missal, the company's poll research manager.

"When it comes to the bedroom, the most telling stats are that over a quarter of Americans say they couldn't live without Internet access (27%) or their mobile phone (26%), while fewer than two in ten (18%) say they couldn't live without sex," he said in an e-mail.

In Bank of America's survey, 54% of millennials said they check their phone "constantly;" for perspective, the next lowest option in terms of frequency was hourly. Of those frequent phone checks, 20% of respondents say that they use Bank of America's mobile app at least once a day. In fact, mobile banking customers logged into their accounts more than 625 million times, or almost 40 times per user, during the first quarter of 2015.

In a similar survey released last week, 17% of Chase customers admitted to using the bank's mobile app while on a date. Chase speculated that the frequent checking was to ensure no embarrassing situations when picking up the tab.

Perhaps, where love is, money isn't too far behind. Or, as comedian Jackie Mason allegedly said: "Money is not the most important thing in the world. Love is. Fortunately, I love money."

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