U.K. consumers’ trust in their banks is at the highest level since 2012, but the decision of some banks to increase digital-only interactions risks alienating customers of all ages, according to new research by Accenture (NYSE: ACN).
Accenture’s U.K. Financial Services report, which surveyed approximately 4,600 adults, found consumer trust in banks over the past two years jumped 39 percent, or 11 percentage points, to 40 percent – on par with the level of consumer trust of high-street retailers. At the same time, customer satisfaction with banks increased 8 percent, or 5 percentage points, to 70 percent – well ahead of the 57 percent satisfaction level in 2012.
This boost in trust and satisfaction coincides with a vast increase in digital banking services, as consumers make more frequent, but fleeting, banking transactions. But overall, U.K. consumers are physically interacting with banks much less.
For instance, the number of consumers who visit branches at least once a month has tumbled 38 percent, from 52 percent to 32 percent, since 2015, while the number of consumers who use ATMs at least once a month has dropped 20 percentage points, to 62 percent – representing a 24 percent decline. Meanwhile, the percentage using mobile banking regularly has remained static at 34 percent. The number of consumers who transact with their bank by telephone at least once a month dropped from 16 percent to 9 percent, with millennials calling their bank more than any other age group.
Despite reduced bank branch visits, consumers still want human advisers for banking services. Seven in 10 consumers want the ability to raise a complaint with a human adviser, while almost two-thirds (63 percent) want to be able to open an account in person. Almost half (48 percent) want to be shown hands-on how to use the bank’s mobile and online services.
“The jump in consumer trust is good news for banks, showing improvements in digital services are working, said Peter Kirk, who leads Accenture’s Financial Services Distribution and Marketing practice in the U.K. “At the same time, the number of customers regularly visiting the branch is significantly reducing, but the number of customers regularly using mobile digital service remains static. This could be a concern for the banks as consumers still say they want to have the human touch. The next challenge is how banks provide convenient customer experiences that blend human and digital services to stop them becoming faceless and putting their newly earned trust at risk.”
Banks will be penalised if not personalised
Two-thirds (66 percent) of surveyed consumers said it was important a bank used personal data to provide advice relevant to their personal circumstances, with more than half (56 percent) saying they would find personalised offers based on their location to be useful.*
In fact, personalisation was the top cited factor for choosing a current bank account provider. Of the 14 percent of consumers who switched banking providers over the last year, more than a quarter did so due to lack of personalised services, with millennials more likely than any other age group to switch banks if services are not personalised.
In a move backing greater use of artificial intelligence (AI) to serve customers personally, 40 percent of surveyed consumers would support banks analysing their spending patterns to warn them if they could overspend that month. More than a quarter of Generation Zers and millennials (27 percent each) said they would use instant messenger to have a natural conversation with their bank.
Despite acknowledging the value of exchanging personal data for convenient banking services, only 5 percent of consumers believe that their personal financial data would be more secure with AI than with a human advisor. Additionally, 70 percent said they would not want to use social media channels to conduct banking activities or communicate with their bank on social media.
“Because consumers today expect banks to anticipate their needs and offer tailored services, the key will be offering the right balance of personalised, relevant offers and interactions, rather than impersonal transactions,” Kirk said. “Consumers want natural conversation with a bank that understands their needs and acts in their best interest, while keeping their data safe and secure. This is particularly significant given the data revolution expected with open banking in the U.K., which will challenge banks to compete on consumer experience. We know that customers have evolving attitudes towards the privacy of their personal data and the introduction of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May will add further fuel to the fire. Banks will be keenly aware of the need to let the customer retain control and to be careful not to cross the line from convenient to intrusive.”
Read the full report here: Accenture’s UK Financial Services Customer Survey 2018
Accenture surveyed 4,599 U.K. consumers of banking, insurance and wealth management services. Respondents were required to have a bank account. Respondents covered multiple generations and income levels. The survey was conducted during December 2017 and January 2018. *UK banking consumer data results from a sample size of 2534 adults.
Open Banking: the perfect pandemic tool – Equifax comments
With COVID-19 related financial fallout set to dominate the credit landscape in 2021, Dan Weaver, Open Banking Expert at Equifax UK, believes Open Banking solutions can provide lenders clarity in a sea of uncertainty:
“With lockdown once again in place across the UK, it’s clear 2021 will be a year of extreme financial flux. While the vaccine roll-out programme will provide an economic boost and eventual easing of restrictions, forbearance measures, such as mortgage holidays and the government furlough scheme, will be wound down. This will lead to income shocks for many, and the potential for a nationwide surge in personal debt.
“With the third anniversary of its implementation today (13 January), Open Banking is entering a new mature phase of its development. The initiative’s credentials are now widely established, offering creditors the perfect pandemic tool to assess the most accurate picture of an individual’s finances.
“Consider someone who has just returned to the workforce after being made redundant or placed on furlough. Traditional credit bureau or legacy data alone would not always provide potential lenders with the most up-to-date information on their current financial circumstances and ability to repay credit at the point of application. Open Banking platforms, through customer consent, pull live data directly from the user’s bank account, allowing creditors to make an informed, responsible and fair decision about their current affordability on the most recent data available – a game-changing factor amid such widespread financial upheaval and rapid change in people’s circumstances.
“Open Banking is a tool for our times and it’s vital more credit providers, not just big banks and finance but utilities, insurance, auto and telcos companies, accelerate its adoption. Throughout our society and economy in the past year, we’ve witnessed feats of great innovation, executed at rapid speed. In 2021, we need to apply this transformational energy to the Open Banking landscape, slashing the time it takes for creditors to test protocol and fully set up their solutions.
“Three years after its arrival, we’re seeing Open Banking platforms improve digital, real-time income verification rates by more than 25% * – which is no mean feat. If an industry-wide, mass acceleration strategy was successfully achieved in 2021, it would prove extremely valuable and timely, and lead to better customer and creditor outcomes throughout the credit space.”
Over a quarter of Brits now have an account with a digital-only bank
The number of Brits with a digital-only bank account has gone up by a percentage increase of 16%
Almost 1 in 6 Brits (17%) plan to open a digital bank account over the next 5 years
The top reason for opening an account was the convenience of banking online for the third year running
However, 16% of traditional banking customers who aren’t planning to switch said their bank had been helpful during the COVID pandemic
Currently over a quarter of Brits (27%) say they have at least one bank account with a digital-only bank, according to personal finance comparison site finder.com.
This is a percentage increase of 16% from last year when 23% of Brits said they had an account with a digital bank. It is also over 3 times the amount of Brits who had one in January 2019 (9%).
Finder’s 2019 research found that 24% of Brits intended to have a digital-only account by 2024. However with 27% now having an account, Brits have gone digital 3 years earlier than expected.
A further 17% of Brits intend to join them over the next 5 years, with 11% planning to do so over the next year. This could mean that 44% of Brits could have an account with a digital bank by 2026. If this percentage were applied to the UK adult population, it would equal almost 23 million people.
The top reason for opening an account continues to be convenience that digital-only banks provide, for the third year running (26%). The second most common reason was that users needed an additional account and setting up a digital account seemed to be the easiest option (20%). Customers also wanted to transfer money more easily (19%), making this the third biggest priority.
People wanting a trendy card is still driving signups as well, with 1 in 10 (10%) existing, or future, customers citing this as a reason to get an account.
Despite the increase in digital-only banking customers, the numbers who aren’t considering one have actually risen. Last year, 23% of respondents said they aren’t considering a digital-only bank account, but this has risen substantially to 42% in the latest survey.
This is likely a result of increased customer loyalty, 58% of those without a digital bank account said they felt as though their incumbent bank had treated them well and therefore had no desire to open a digital bank account. Additionally, 16% felt as though their incumbent bank had performed particularly well during the pandemic.
Over a third (36%) of those without a digital bank account said they had not decided to bank with digital providers because they preferred to be able to speak to someone in branch.
Digital banks are still most popular with younger generations, 46% of gen Z say they currently have a digital bank account, with a further 28% intending to get one over the next 5 years. This would mean that by 2026 just under three quarters of gen Z (73%) could have a digital bank account.
To see the research in full visit: https://www.finder.com/uk/digital-banking-adoption
Commenting on the findings, Matt Boyle, banking specialist at finder.com said:
“This research shows that digital-only banks are here to stay, with the number of users in the UK rising for 3 years straight. On top of this, Starling and Revolut announced this year that they have made a profit for the first time, really demonstrating that digital banks are starting to become a serious part of the banking furniture.
“The pandemic has also played a role in the rapid digitalisation of the banking industry, with those who had never experienced online banking having no other choice but to take their finances online. It seems that Brits are starting to realise the convenience that can come with digital banking and this is reflected in our research.”
Finder commissioned Censuswide on 6 to 8 January 2021 to carry out a nationally representative survey of adults aged 18+. A total of 1,671 people were questioned throughout Great Britain, with representative quotas for gender, age and region
The Impact of the Digital Economy on the Banking and Payments Sector
By Gerhard Oosthuizen, CTO Entersekt.
New banking regulations, digital consumers, the eradication of passwords, contactless technology – these are just some of the trends that will shape financial services and payments in 2021, writes Entersekt CTO, Gerhard Oosthuizen.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, traditional businesses have been compelled to further undergo the digital transformation to meet the needs of a consumer base largely confined to their homes. Indeed, we estimate that there has been a 30% growth in the digital space. With this acceleration towards a digital world, banking, transacting and payment trends have and will continue to be redefined into 2021.
We have witnessed a rising number of digital first timers. That is, people signing up for online banking and e-commerce, whilst progressively shifting away from traditional channels. Businesses that have previously depended on walk-in stores and having a physical presence have also had to recognise that online transactions are now the new norm, and to adjust accordingly.
Whereas in the past, registering a customer for a service could take place in a shop, a booth or a branch, today it has become more important than ever to have a remote digital registration option available as well. Even working behaviour has changed considerably, with many businesses accommodating for remote working in the long term.
This is what sets the scene for 2021 – people expect to work from home as well as carry out their transactions from home.
Banking and Payment Trends in 2021
The use of contactless technology is undeniably growing, but on top of more people tapping with their cards, we are also seeing much more engagement with QR payments. A technology already frequently employed in Asia, we know QR codes can work. It would enable consumers to authenticate themselves when making a transaction without needing a PIN pad. More importantly, it allows consumers to gain complete control of their transactions from their own device and have an overall richer experience. Recognising this, we anticipate noteworthy developments in QR and NFC-enabled tap and go payments over the next year.
In light of FIDO (Fast Identity Online) and the ever-expanding network of FIDO-compliant solutions, we also expect the emergence of entirely passwordless systems. Organisations will likely begin enlisting customers by way of biometric authentication through devices and digital identities that already exist, such as banking apps. Long gone will be the days of having to remember numerous passwords, only to forget and reset them again. That is the idea anyway.
In 2021, there will probably be a pronounced adoption of delegated authentication as well, whereby
merchants as opposed to traditional issuing banks will take the reins of authenticating e-commerce payments. In this way, consumers will be offered a greatly improved online shopping experience with a simple and intuitive checkout that acts as an extension of the retail brand.
The Challenge of PSD2
While each of these transitions will undoubtedly introduce growing pains, PSD2 will be among the most challenging. Europe is already going through PSD2 now, implementing a number of regulations that is opening up competition in banking and electronic payment services. However, on the 1st of January 2021, these regulations will take a legal effect. At the end of the first quarter, so too will another set of regulations concerning 3-D authentication of card-not-present payments. Europe is simply not prepared to make this leap into “open banking”. As such, banks will face a tough year of struggles with regulators and competition from non-traditional quarters.
In fact, the process towards becoming PSD2-compliant is often arduous for banks and recoups hardly any additional revenue. Many banks see it as a competitive disadvantage as they are being forced to open up their systems and processes for the likes of Google, Facebook, Apple and many smaller niche fintech operations. Their valuable client data risks being taken by a challenger and used to on-board their accountholders.
Regardless of the commercial opportunities that open banking may provide, fraudsters will also endeavour to take advantage of this change and the weaknesses that will appear as systems open. With money moving faster, the faster it can be stolen too. We will likely see some reaction to this in 2021 as fraud returns to being a top priority for banks. Yet, whether through regulatory pressure or by market forces, open banking will become the new normal – and the world needs to prepare for this. Hopefully, many lessons will be learned from Europe’s experiences in 2021.
Next year is going to be about change – and managing that change without alienating already unsettled consumers. Organisations that have customer experience top of mind will emerge as winners, but they must nonetheless expect additional pressure from regulators, new competition, ever more digitally-demanding consumers, and no slowdown in technological innovation.
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