Four out of 10 people in the UK regularly use mobile banking apps to access their account, while branch visits are in freefall, according to new figures which show the changing face of banking.

The 'Way We Bank Now' report from trade body UK Finance, which represents nearly 300 firms involved in UK banking, has revealed the huge shift in customers trusting online banking and apps to manage their money.

In total, 71% of the adult UK population - 38 million people - accessed their bank via an online browser or a mobile banking app in 2017. Of these, almost 22 million regularly used mobile banking apps to access their accounts, a figure than has more than doubled over the past four years. There were 5.5 billion mobile banking log-ins last year with people logging into a mobile banking app 275 times a year on average, equating to 174 log-ins every second.

The report also showed there was an increasing tendency for customers to use online webchats as a method of communication with their bank, with 5.5 million webchats last year - an increase of 24% compared with 2016

For more on mobile banking apps, see our App-based banking guide.

What about branches?

In contrast, branch visits are predictably falling, with the average branch dealing with just 104 daily visits in 2017, compared with 140 in 2012. While this is a 26% decline in real terms, it still means a credible percent of the UK proportion still rely on their bank branch for their day-to-day banking - despite a significant reduction in the size of the UK branch network in recent years.

For those without a local bank branch, the Post Office could offer a solution as it allows 99% of personal banking customers to make payments, withdraw and deposit into their current account via their local Post Office branch.

What are the top mobile banking apps?

Most banks now offer mobile app services, which can include the ability to make payments, view recent transactions, order a replacement bank card and interact with the bank via the app.

In regards to the best mobile banking apps, two of our top picks for current accounts are Starling Bank and Monzo, which offer real-time notifications when you use your debit card as well as insights to your spending.

Among the old-school providers, the NatWest and Barclays apps scored well in our recent poll, with 55% of NatWest and 52% of Barclays users claiming their respective apps have 'lots of features' and are 'great' to use.

Not all mobile banking apps are developed by banks directly. Following the introduction of open banking earlier this year, banks are now obliged to let authorised third-party providers access your account data with your permission - meaning a host of new apps have launched within the past year.

For more on these apps, including others that can give you a helping hand with budgeting, saving and generally managing your cash, see our App-based banking guide.

'512 million text alerts sent by banks last year'

Aside from detailing the growth in mobile banking, the UK Finance report also revealed that 512 million text alerts were sent out by banks last year, equivalent to 16 texts per second.

While bank text alerts aren't a new phenomenon, their use has come under scrutiny recently following security concerns. Earlier today, MoneySavingExpert revealed a TSB customer suffering from cancer had £29,000 taken from their account following a sophisticated scam, involving sending a 'verification code' via SMS, which was used to steal cash. Thankfully TSB has agreed to refund the victim.

Remember, your bank will never contact you asking for your passwords or PIN. If you get an email or text from your bank about fraud, ask yourself whether or not that's the usual way you receive contact from your bank. Think about whether it's sensible for the bank to make contact in that way. For more tips, see our Stop Scams guide.

What does UK Finance say?

Commenting on the shift towards mobile banking, Stephen Jones, Chief Executive of UK Finance said: "The customer desire for convenience is driving this shift towards an increasingly digital world. Mobile and online banking systems are easy to use, safe and reliable. Many customers prefer to use this technology rather than making time to visit a bank branch.

"Technology is changing the way we communicate, work and shop and, as a result, the way we choose to manage our money. The industry has responded to this seismic social change, which is very much led by customers looking to make the most of digital innovation for convenience."