NEW YORK/BEIJING: Seven in ten millennials in the US and China rarely use cash, according to research which also highlights how consumers in these countries want more diverse financial products that are better suited to their needs and lifestyles.

The JWT Innovation Group surveyed 1,000 adults in each country for its Future of Money report, which found that “traditional banking is being upstaged by new banks which offer technological convenience, a new visual language and baking in social good for the millennial clientele”.

The report notes that at least 2,600 fintech start-ups were established between 2012 and 2017, offering services across banking, insurance and investment and observes an ongoing process of decentralization, whether that’s around cryptocurrencies or Open Banking.

“The results might be a complete reinvention of the very idea of money and currency,” it suggested.

Three quarters (76%) of millennials in the two countries combined agreed that they are always looking to try new and different forms of banking, saving, payment and currency.

And younger consumers in both countries were more interested than their elders in the technical options becoming possible, such as using facial recognition to make payments or using a smart speaker to interact with their bank.

In China, consumers generally are more cognizant of emerging financial offerings. Thus, 47% of Chinese consumers were familiar with the term ‘fintech’ compared to 12% of US consumers, a pattern that was repeated for ‘blockchain’ (39% v 19%) , ‘micro-investing’ (37% v 22%) and ‘open banking’ (39% v 25%).

Security remains an understandable concern for most, however: 81% of consumers said recent data breaches make them worry about the safety of their own privacy and security.

Ethics, too, are an important consideration. 76% of consumers in China and 65% in the US say use of digital banking services in emerging markets (from 33% in 2014 to 52% in 2017) and near total penetration in developed markets (97%).

Sourced from J Walter Thompson, Campaign Asia-Pacific; additional content by WARC staff