New research from HSBC has found that people would rather put their faith in a robot to perform open-heart surgery than trust one to open a savings account or provide mortgage advice.
The HSBC study, surveying more than 12,000 consumers in 11 countries, indicates that a rising tide of technophobia is stalling mainstream adoption of new technology-based services. The bank says a lack of understanding and trust in technology is leading millions of consumers to shun new advances in banking services, such as fingerprint recognition, voice recognition and robo-advice.
While four in every five people (80%) believe that technology makes their lives easier, less than half (46%) trust fingerprint recognition to replace their password, despite it being recognised to be at least five times more secure and significantly more convenient than traditional passwords.
The report - which majors on a lack of trust in consumers attitudes to new technology - comes at an awkward time for HSBC, landing just a week after the bank's voice recognition software was successfully bypassed by a BBC reporter and his non-identical twin brother.
Reflecting a deep-rooted ambivalence about the benefits of new technology among consumers, the study further found that people are twice as likely to trust a humanoid robot for heart surgery (14%) as they are to trust one to open a savings account (7%) and only 11% would rely on any type of robot, including chatbots, to open a savings account or provide mortgage advice.
The data chimes with a new survey from Nationwide which found that 40% of consumers would rather discuss their mortgage needs face-to-face than go online to find the best deal.
While HSBC uncovered a spirit of optimism around the progressive nature of technology among early adopters, the significant majority of people have never heard of new technologies, and if they have, they couldn’t explain what they do.
John Flint, global chief executive of Retail Banking and Wealth Management at HSBC comments: “We have a role to play in building our customers’ knowledge and trust so that they see the value to their lives in adopting a new payments app or the latest biometric security.”
To this end, the bank is to introduce over 3000 'Digital Champions' by the end of 2017, to tutor and encourage front-life staff to have positive conversations with customers about the benefits of digital banking services.