For the first time, banking customers prefer online banking to any other method, according to a study published last week by the American Bankers Association. Twenty-five percent of the 1,000 customers surveyed in August responded that their preferred method of banking is online. After online, customers most preferred visiting their local branches (21 percent) and ATMs (17 percent). All age groups under 55 preferred mobile banking to any other form. “This marks a watershed change,” said Nessa Feddis, ABA senior counsel and retail banking expert.

“It tells us that for the first time, more consumers prefer the speed and convenience of conducting their banking transactions on the Internet than visiting their local branch," Feddis said. "It also tells us that consumers now have confidence in the accuracy and security of online banking.”

Mobile banking gets all the press, so where does it stand? While it will one day (think three to five years) become mainstream, today it is the preferred method of only one percent of U.S. banking customers, who are primarily in the 18-34 group.

The U.S. leader in mobile banking is Bank of America, which owns 35 percent of the market share, according to data submitted by comScore to the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association for the association’s ATM&Debit News EFT Data Book.

More than 2 million Bank of American customers use mobile banking. Following BoA are Chase (12 percent share), Wells Fargo (9 percent) and CitiGroup (5 percent).

USAA, the bank aimed primarily at military members, says it has more than one-million mobile customers, but its numbers are not included in comScore’s data.

By Mark Alvarez