Consumers remain resistant to digital banking aspirations

Consumers remain resistant to digital banking aspirations

A YouGov poll of consumer attitudes to the introduction of portable bank account numbers has unearthed an underlying distrust of social and mobile technologies and a clear preference for human-to-human interaction via the branch, the call centre and the Web.

The BT-commissioned poll of 6500 adults from six countries worldwide, found that the majority of consumers in Spain (76%), Hong Kong (70%), France (64%), Germany (61%) and the UK (62%) all agree that a portable identity number - allowing them to switch banks without changing account details - would be useful.

Despite this, there are mixed feelings about the prospect of banks sharing their IT infrastructure and having access to customers' personal information, which reflects a common concern about the security and protection of personal data.

Underlying this is a clear disdain for new fangled ideas about social and mobile interaction with banking services. The majority of respondents across all markets did not consider engaging in dialogue or sharing information with their banks over social media channels as a priority. On the contrary, when asked which three tools they would most like their bank to provide, customers indicated that they would like to see more sophisticated online tools such as peer review sections (32%), webchat facilities (23%) and 'compare-my-bank' type services (29%) to give them better information and help them make informed decisions.

When asked about which three factors would be the most appealing when considering moving banks, the results were fairly consistent across all countries. Good online banking facilities (39%), the presence of a local branch (45%) and the ability to access banking services 24/7 (29%) were ranked highest.

Some interesting geographical differences also emerged in the perceptions of banking technology, with German consumers the least likely to choose mobile banking in their top three most trusted banking technologies, followed closely by the UK. Only five per cent of Germans and 10 per cent of Brits said that mobile banking is one of their three most trusted technologies, although the results were low across all countries. Across the board, Internet banking, in-branch self-service and ATMs were viewed as the three most trustworthy technologies.

Tom Regent president, global banking and financial markets, BT Global Services says: "Banks are increasingly focused on providing services via smart phones and tablet devices in order to keep pace with digital changes and innovation. While this is an important strategy, banks must be careful not to lose sight of the need for human contact in either the branch or via a local call centre agent. Our research shows that these continue to be customers' most trusted and preferred channels."

Customers are even more cautious about the use of alternative payments, such as Twollars, Bitcoins, and virtual wallets. The percentage of respondents who had tried alternative payments was less than 10 per cent across most of the countries polled. However, respondents from Hong Kong and Spain were the most likely to try alternative payment methods in the next 18 months (43% and 36% respectively). Respondents from the USA and Germany were least likely to say they would try alternative payment systems in the next 18 months (12% and nine per cent).

This latest research follows an earlier study by BT titled Youbiquity Finance, which found that found that despite the growing use of telephone, mobile and internet banking in recent years, almost three quarters (73%) of customers in the UK see their local branch as the most vital link with their bank in the future - second only to cash machines.

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