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Fed Says 22% Of Cell Phone Owners Made A Mobile Payment In 2014

New data from the Federal Reserve shows that 39% of cell phone owners use the devices for banking services. And more than half of all mobile banking users have deposited checks using an app.

Posted on March 26, 2015, at 2:46 p.m. ET

Rob Carr / Getty Images

The Federal Reserve and Wall Street agree: More and more people are using their phones to interact with their banks, especially to do more basic financial tasks. In a report released today, the Fed found a large jump in mobile banking usage from 2013: 39% of cell phone owners are now using a mobile banking app, up from 33% in 2013, and just over half of mobile bank users have deposited a check, up from 28% the year before.

There has also been a rise in mobile payments: 22% of mobile phone owners made a mobile payment in the last year, up from 17% in 2013. Of those payments, the biggest portion was from scanning QR codes or barcodes — some 31%, although that was down from 39% in 2013.

And banks expect these trends to increase. Not only have mobile payments gotten much more convenient in the last year thanks to release of Apple Pay, but every major bank signed up with the service. While precise usage numbers are not available and the largest retailers, like Target or Wal-Mart, have not signed up, Apple said last month that 700,000 retail locations accept Apple Pay. Apple CEO Tim Cook said in January that $2 out of every $3 in contactless payments on the Visa, MasterCard, and American Express networks went through Apple Pay.

These trends are attractive to banks as they look to cut costs. Chase, one of the largest retail banks in the country, said that 10% of all of its deposits happen on mobile phones. Chase said that mobile log-ins to online banking had grown 81% per year since 2010, while calls and transactions done through tellers had shrunk 3% over that period of time.

Also, Chase said, mobile deposits cost Chase 3 cents, while ATM deposits cost 8 cents and teller deposits cost 65 cents. Chase's active mobile users have grown to 19.1 million in 2014 from 15.6 million in 2013, while the number of mobile deposits has grown to about 45 million, a 25% year-over-year jump.

JPMorgan Chase / Via files.shareholder.com

While more and more people have mobile banking apps, a lot of the "banking" done is checking balances and transactions.

Federal Reserve / Via federalreserve.gov

Not surprisingly, it's mostly young people doing mobile payments. Black and Latino people with cell phones are also much more likely to use mobile payments than white people.

More than a third of all mobile users aged 18-29 used mobile payments last year, while just 7% of people over 60 did.

There was also a big gap in the race and ethnicity of mobile payment users: 17% of white mobile users made a mobile payment in 2014, compared to 34% of black users and 32% of Latino users.

Federal Reserve / Via federalreserve.gov

And while mobile payments have gotten more accessible and convenient (and are available on more platforms), credit and debit cards are still considered easier to use.

Federal Reserve / Via federalreserve.gov

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.

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