70% of Americans prefer digital to branch for account opening

70% of Americans prefer digital to branch for account opening

Nearly three quarters of Americans would rather apply for a checking account digitally than at a bank branch, according to a survey from Javelin Strategy & Research.

Banks are encouraging customers to carry out an increasing number of basic transactions through online and mobile channels, retooling their branches to focus on providing expert advice.

In the UK, last month Lloyds Banking Group introduced a service for customers to upload photos of identification documents for online account opening without the need to visit a bank branch.

However, in general customers still almost always have to visit branches to open checking accounts in person. Expectations are changing, though, because more Americans are applying for other financial products digitally - last year the volume of applications on smartphones and tablets jumped more than 60% for auto loans, mortgages, and credit cards.

Nevertheless, branches do still have some perceived advantages over digital for account opening. Of the 3100 people surveyed by Javelin, 69% think that the branch has an edge when it comes to protecting personal data, and 60% think that it is better for getting answers to their questions.

Mark Schwanhausser, director, omnichannel financial services, Javelin, says: "Financial institutions will win by ensuring that applicants feel the outcome was smooth and seamless even if even if they start the process in one channel and finish in another. Applicants should never have to start over from scratch."

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