See what I did there? I made up a statistic. (Or did I?) Statistics have a funny way of saying everything but what they were intended to do.

Why mention it now? Because 10% of you already stopped reading.

That liked stat was pretty close to accurate. Yesterday, I saw an article heading making the credit union rounds. It said “87.9% Of U.S. Adults Do Not Use Mobile Banking”.

Wait, only one out of ten people use mobile banking? Then why the focus on the platform from every bank, credit union, and community bank? The number seemed off, and by a lot. A quick search located an article from Wikipedia citing a 2012 study of mobile banking usage worldwide. In it, the United States was said to be at 32% penetration. And that was 4 years ago, before Apple caved and gave you all giant-screened iPhones. You know, the distant past!

So we’ve determined the statistic is wrong. But flat-out incorrect, or just taken out of context? I mean, 64% of all statistics are contorted to get your point across. I dug deeper. The credit union publication’s article linked to another source, who linked to the original source of the statistic. Unfortunately, it was a statistic clearinghouse which requires payment for access to statistical data (irony, anyone?). I could not locate where that stat originated. However, this is my prediction:

A survey was conducted to determine American adults’ mobile banking habits. A first question set the stage by asking if they ever used mobile banking. For those who answered no, it may have asked one more question of why (convenience, features, security, etc.). This is where our questionable number originates. The majority of respondents felt that their banking needs were met without ever opening the mobile banking app. Which is valuable information on its own. But now we have context.

The 87.9% was of a much smaller value representing those who don’t use mobile banking, not of the whole. Let me see if I can make this visual:

Mobile Banking Usage Chart

Does that make sense? The stats, taken out of context, told the wrong story. However, they still tell an important story, just a different one. Your members do use mobile banking, but is there enough value for them to bother over the convenience of already being at their work computer? Can they easily process bill payer on a Sunday evening? Send money to a friend after a friendly game of cards?

And that, my friends, is why you always check the source and context of any statistics. I’m told 58% of people don’t, so be part of the (made-up) minority!

Image credit: Me, after a 10-minute stint on Pages, and realizing my “87.9%” segment is nowhere near 87.9%. Hey, it got the point across, right?

Image credit (feature): Me, after realizing making up statistics is actually really hard and settling on making a college preference statement instead.