Finance brands must go digital

17 January 2012

LONDON: Financial services brands must move more quickly into the digital arena in order to enhance customer relationships and boost profitability, a study has argued.

PricewaterhouseCoopers, the advisory firm, polled nearly 3,000 consumers in nine countries, including Canada, China, France, India, Mexico and the UK. It found that, when buying a new banking product, 73% of the panel would be likely to do so from their existing bank.

Nation by nation, this proportion peaked at 86% in Hong Kong, 81% in Canada and 79% in China.

By contrast, 24% of interviewees in the UAE were likely to switch banks, as was the case for 20% of Polish respondents, 18.4% of Mexicans and 14.9% of the British sample. The average was 14.3%.

At least 60% of participants in every nation had used the web while choosing financial products and over 85% of individuals in all age-groups put the web among their favoured banking channels.

For mobile, over 40% of consumers in India, China and the UAE used their phone for this reason. Totals here were lowest, at 20% or under, in Canada, France, Poland and the UK, below the average of approximately a third of contributors.

Exactly 67% of Generation Y, here defined as those born between the mid-1980s and 1990s, cited mobile as one of their "preferred" banking channels, as did 60% of Generation X, born between the early 1960s and the early 1980s.

Figures here stood at 46% regarding "baby boomers", born between roughly 1946 and 1964, and reached 33% for people in older demographics.

"The growth of digital has removed key barriers to market entry, including the need for large branch networks, customer inertia and brand trust," said Matt Hobbs, retail and commercial banking partner at PwC, said.

"Banks need to consider strategic acquisitions or partnerships with digital innovators to secure their long-term position and market share."

In all, 73% of adults would pay to receive notifications about transactions on Facebook and Twitter. This excludes China, where these platforms are not available.

Some 66% of consumers across all the nations assessed said the same for banks providing digital "wallets" converting loyalty card points into cash, as did 59% for being provided with spending analysis tools and 50% for relevant third-party offers.

Depending on the region, PwC suggested between £2 and £10 per month constituted a viable "base rate" for each of these services. In the UK, for example, customers would pay £4.20 per month for banks to convert loyalty card points into cash.

Data sourced from PricewaterhouseCoopers; additional content by Warc staff