According to a report released in October 2013 by market research firm Mintel, direct banking figures are on the rise in the US.
Tracking the entry of ‘alternative banks’ into the market, the report found that in the first 8 months of 2013, "20% of checking and savings direct mail was from direct banks", up from 4% the previous year.
Mintel found the explosion to be partly attributable to five direct banks, Ally, Cap One 360, Discover, State Farm and USAA.
Susan Wolfe, vice president of content for Mintel Comperemedia, said: "While direct banking isn’t mainstream just yet, it does seem to be gaining popularity with consumers".
The company’s research found the number of respondents in possession of an account at an internet bank to be 6% in 2012, having jumped from the 1% registered in both 2006 and 2010.
In particular, higher-income clients proved more likely than other groups to hold direct bank accounts, with 8% of respondents earning between $100,000 and $149,900 owning an internet banking account.
Another effect of the increased influence of direct banks can be seen in wider changes in marketing strategy, found the report.
In 2013, acquisition direct mail volume for new checking and savings accounts rose, with the first 8 months of the year witnessing a 26% increase in mail volume since 2012.
Commenting on the figures, Wolfe said: "Consumers have typically been reluctant to go with a direct bank because they feel that they want the comfort of a physical branch nearby. But as consumers rely more on online, mobile and ATM banking, and less on the branch, we could be at the start of a shift in consumer mindset and the convenience of a nearby physical location might not be the main reason that consumers choose their bank."