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NordVPN Research: Americans Online Banking Usage Reaches 85%, But Trust Is Lagging Behind

calendarMarch 2, 2021

New Report Shows Confidence in Digital Banking Security and Options, But 40% Check Banking Apps Daily for Compromises

Online banking, like online shopping, is ingrained into Americans’ lives, becoming an essential part of the new normal that emerged during the pandemic. A recent report from NordVPN, the world's leading VPN service provider, unpacks Americans’ behaviors and attitudes toward online banking, particularly as they relate to security and privacy. The report polled more than 1,000 consumers across different demographics.

Most (85%) Americans are taking advantage of online banking at least some of the time, while 25% are using online banking exclusively. It’s not surprising, because 40% said they don’t trust (13%) or have doubts (27%) about their banking app.

The Gen Z cohort (18- to 24-year-olds) leads the way in practicing banking online at 28.6%; just 13.9% of those 65 years and older use online banking. Women are more likely than men to report that they do all of their banking online (30.2% vs. 20.8%).

“Given the unsettling times we are living in, it is more important than ever to ensure banking activity is handled as efficiently and securely as possible,” said Daniel Markuson, digital privacy expert at NordVPN. “With new digital banking scams being weaponized daily, businesses and consumers alike must take every security step they can to protect their digital information, including using a VPN for all financial interactions executed online. It’s equally important that these types of transactions are not conducted on other digital devices when you are not at home or are connecting to public Wi-Fi.”

An overwhelming majority (97%) of Americans attempt to protect their online privacy, with 63.6% saying that they consider a secure connection the most important element when accessing their bank account online, followed by privacy (61.5%) and accuracy of balance (53.8%).

Key Data Insights

Among other insights, the report revealed that:

Security is a top concern: While most Americans now use online banking and feel confident about the security of their finances, 40% check their account for compromises every single day. Millennials/Gen Y (25- to 44-years-olds) are slightly more concerned about security than other cohorts, with 44.4% checking their online bank account daily to see if it has been compromised, compared to 38.9% of Gen X (45- to 64-year-olds), 34.2% of Boomers (people 65 years and older) and 33.6% of Gen Z.

  • 40.2% of women check banking activity for compromises on a daily basis
  • That’s slightly more than men, at 39.7%
  • However, men check their bank data for compromises on a weekly basis more than women (38.7% vs. 34.5%)

Americans’ online behaviors are inconsistent and many do not take precautions – despite concerns about safety: One-third of Americans (33.7%) have accessed their bank account while connected to public Wi-FI, despite warnings that doing so even once can compromise personal and financial data.

  • While nearly half (48.4%) think their bank is well protected, 40.8% never check their bank account while on public Wi-Fi and 22.7% use a VPN
  • 42.3% of men compared to 39.8% of women never check their bank account while on public Wi-Fi
  • Boomers are the most concerned about security – nearly half (48.7%) confirmed they never check their bank account while on public Wi-Fi, closely followed by Gen X at 47.6%
  • Reflecting their comfort level in the online world, 38% of Gen Y and only a quarter (25.4%) of Gen Z cohorts are more willing to use public Wi-Fi
  • Nearly four in 10 Americans (36.1%) said they have purchased something online while connected to public Wi-Fi

A majority of Americans use banking apps, even though many don’t trust them: 85% use their banking apps; nearly 40% don’t trust that they are secure

  • Nearly half of Americans (47.8%) always trust payment apps with their bank account information, while 25.6% never trust payment apps
  • More than half (53.2%) said they use multi-factor authentication for logging into their banking apps
  • Far and away, PayPal is the most popular and most trusted online payment method

A secure connection is considered essential whether working from home (WFH) or from outside the home: 64.5% of those WFH rated a secure connection as being most important when accessing their bank account online, compared to 62.5% of those working outside the home. But the research also showed differences. For those WFH individuals, checking their bank account has become part of their daily routine. Only 5.3% WFH employees never check their banking activity for compromises vs. almost 20% (19.3%) of those working outside their home – close to a 15% difference.

  • When asked to determine the importance of the accuracy of balance, 57.6% of WFH employees agreed it was important, vs. 50.5% of those who work outside their home.
  • Those who work from home check their balance at a higher rate than those working outside the home (43.4% vs. 36.1%)
  • Privacy among those currently working from home is also a key concern, with 64.1% of this group highlighting its importance. Just 58.5% of those who don't work from home expressed significant concerns about privacy

VPN usage is a significant way to secure your online banking activity: The Gen Y cohort is leading the way with VPN adoption, with a 28.2% adoption rate, compared to Gen Z (19.4%) and Gen X (19.3%). Boomers – at 17.7% – are the slowest to embrace this form of online data protection for their digital banking activities.

Neither gender indicates a true understanding of the importance of VPN usage as a vital way to secure their online banking activity. Less than a third of men (28.7%) and less than 17.2% of women utilize this form of protection when checking bank account data online.

“Secure connections are most important when accessing finances online, and many Americans are willing to take extra steps to ensure their security is improved,” said Markuson. “VPN offers a safe alternative to using public Wi-Fi, which presents a host of security risks. As the world’s most advanced VPN service provider, NordVPN is well positioned to help Americans keep their banking/financial activities and data protected from harm.”

About NordVPN

NordVPN is the world’s most advanced VPN service provider, used by over 14 million internet users worldwide. NordVPN provides double VPN encryption, malware blocking, and Onion Over VPN. The product is very user-friendly, offers one of the best prices on the market, has over 5,000 servers in 60 countries worldwide, and is P2P-friendly. One of the key features of NordVPN is the zero-log policy. For more information: nordvpn.com.