3 minute read

The Mobile Generation is Evolving

12/13/2022 8:00 PM

If we’ve learned anything by year three of surveying higher ed students on their financial and technology habits, it’s that calling today’s students the mobile generation is accurate. While analog habits such as writing checks still occur – as outlined in our previous blog on this year’s report – their general preference is to conduct business and coordinate life through mobile solutions.

The 2022 Student Financial Experience Report’s results show student usage of mobile banking to pay bills or transfer money remains consistently high at 80 percent. Similarly, usage of smartphone apps to make payments also remains high at 72 percent. And for the third year in a row, mobile banking to make deposits has increased (up 3 percent from 2021, 7 percent from 2020) and mobile banking to pay bills and transfer money has increased (up 2 percent from 2021 and 7 percent from 2020).

The mobile generation’s usage rates are double the general population, as a recent survey of all consumers’ banking habits shows that 41 percent of all Americans prefer to bank via mobile app and 37 percent via their bank’s website. But what makes today’s students the mobile generation is not merely their reliance on smartphones but their sophisticated use of and expectations for mobile technology.

Developing tech, maturing users

In this year’s survey results, the most commonly desired function for digital technology is “safety”, cited by 58 percent of students, and followed by “ease of use” at 28 percent. This represents a sizable shift from last year’s survey when “ease of use” was cited by 47 percent of respondents and “safety” by 41 percent. Although having easy-to-use technology is still important to students, it is becoming less of a priority, perhaps because students are now acclimated to the technology and with experience find it easier to use.

Regarding the increase in students desiring safe and secure technology, it appears that the many recent headlines about the rise in data breaches, ransomware, and cyber crime has influenced students' priorities. But when asked to agree or disagree with statements like, “I am worried about someone hacking my phone and having access to my payment apps,” the percentage of students who agreed with such sentiments has decreased year over year.

When comparing these two findings, the subtle insight is that safety and security is shifting from being an emotional response of fearing the unknown to a practical concern for whether an app has all of the necessary functionality. As students become more experienced users of technology, their understanding of security risks and responsibilities, and how to maturely manage them, develops.

With experience comes expectations

As experienced users, the mobile generation assumes that technology will be available and helpful to them on campus. Luckily, much of what students wish for can benefit higher ed institutions too.

Students cite the four most important functions for college apps as a streamlined/all-in-one app, to check/update finances, to make/manage payments, and a virtual ID. On a practical level, a unified campus app can improve the campus experience for students and staff, since the streamlined, automated, and integrated processes that create an all-in-one campus app also increase the efficiency and productivity of campus operations.

The virtual ID function also benefits the entire campus, as the same modern ID management technology that helps manage staff and student credentials can be integrated with campus systems to leverage IDs for numerous other uses, including automating self-service functions to save students and staff time, and tracking engagement and financial trends to improve student services, administrative processes, and the institution’s finances.

Download the Report to learn more

You can gain more insights into students’ tech and money habits by downloading your free copy of the 2022 Student Financial Experience Report. Our third annual survey provides valuable research to inform higher ed professionals administering services across campus.

The 2022 Student Financial Experience Report gathered data from a ten-minute, online survey and utilized accepted standards of statistical practice. Respondents were required to be smartphone owners 18 or older enrolled at a U.S. college or university and not employed in a competitive industry. TouchNet will repeat the survey annually for our clients’ benefit.