BAI research reveals significant shifts in last 12 months for banking preferences by generation

Findings show 24/7 customer service ranks highest among Gen Z consumers; mobile payments ranked last among all generations

CHICAGO, IL (April 15, 2021) — Recent research by BAI, a nonprofit independent organization that delivers the financial services industry’s most actionable insights, found consumer banking preferences are shifting and behaviors are evolving by generation. The research reveals how the pandemic has accelerated changes in banking behaviors among Baby Boomers (Boomers+), Generation X (Gen X), Millennials and Generation Z (Gen Z) customers. These findings seek to better understand generational banking preferences to equip financial services leaders with the insights needed to plan for the future.

Trends by generation include: 

  • The fastest way to capture the loyalty of Gen Z is through around-the-clock customer service. When asked how their digital apps can be improved, access to 24/7 customer service was the number one response. 
  • 44% percent of Gen Z respondents rank debit card as their number one preferred payment choice, followed by cash at 28%. Mobile Payments ranked last among all generations.
  • 75% percent of Millennials note they would switch financial services organizations for a better mobile experience, marking a 28% increase year-over-year and the highest of any generational group.
  • Gen X trusts their primary financial services provider more than any other generation. And, while only 39% of Gen X consumers have experienced fraud or identity theft, 95% believe their primary financial services “did enough to resolve fraudulent activity on my account quickly and efficiently.”
  • Only 63% of Boomers+ feel their primary financial services provider will protect them from fraud and identify theft, which is the lowest among the generations.

“Ensuring a continued understanding of generational banking preferences will remain pivotal for financial services leaders as they build the appropriate strategies to prioritize products and services for their customers,” said Karl Dahlgren, managing director at BAI. “By recognizing these behaviors, financial services leaders can best serve their customers, and use these insights to better predict future behaviors and preferences, positioning their organizations for success.” 

Even as generational preferences vary, about half of consumers plan to give all of their future deposit business to their current primary financial services organization. However, these numbers decrease for all generations when asked if they plan to give their future loan or investment business to their current primary financial services organization.

About BAI

As a nonprofit, independent organization, BAI has delivered the financial services industry’s most actionable insights for more than 95 years, helping leaders make smart business decisions every day. We provide in-depth, proprietary research to more than 40 of the top US banks, support more than 2,100 financial services organizations with compliance and professional development training, provide trusted, relevant thought leadership through BAI Banking Strategies reports, podcasts and webinars, and offerspecialized events and programs. For more information, visit


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