digital banking

People in the UK are streets ahead of their European counterparts in their embrace of digital forms of banking but financial providers must do more to educate their customers, a study has found.

Research commissioned by CRIF, the European consumer and business credit information firm, quizzed thousands of people across France, the Czech Republic, Italy, Germany, Slovakia and the UK, to better understand their attitudes towards financial services.

UK consumers are nearly twice as likely as other Europeans to prefer applying for financial products and services online via website or app, including through online chat or video call functions (59 per cent vs 33 per cent).

In Europe, more than half of consumers still prefer to apply for new financial products – such as current accounts, credit cards or loans – in-person at a local bank branch. Yet in the UK, only around 23 per cent would now prefer to go in-person.

Sara Costantini, CRIF’s regional director for the UK & Ireland, said: “In a digitally dominated world, the way in which we go about our daily lives has changed. And nowhere more so than in banking and financial services. Our research shows that the UK leads the way in Europe when it comes to embracing digital and online methods, but there is still more we can do to utilise digital technologies to help more UK consumers to manage their finances.

“While some are reluctant to share data as they are worried about fraud and security, we should work to allay these fears. Technologies such as open banking are not only safe but can lay the foundations for increased financial support during the current economic crisis.

According to Costantini, financial providers must do more to educate their customers about the benefits of online and other digital forms of banking to not only help them during the cost of living crisis, but also to drive widespread financial wellbeing and inclusion for all.

Ways to improve

The research also identifies several ways banks can provide consumers with better services at a time when the cost of living is putting considerable pressure on people’s finances.

Although 34 per cent say banks should do more to provide people with more tailored financial products and services – nearly one in five are still concerned that they would be sold products which aren’t right for them.

More than two-thirds of UK consumers are also worried that sharing financial data leaves them more open to fraud, underlining the need to educate and reassure customers that innovations like open banking have high security standards and enables a range of consumer benefits.

Happy to share

Despite concerns, a third of people in the UK would be prepared to share more financial information if it helped providers to better assess their financial situation and improve their ability to borrow (35 per cent) or increase their credit limit (31 per cent).

The younger generations (18 to 34 year-olds) in the UK are more likely to share their data with financial providers, with 53 per cent saying they’d be comfortable doing so if it enabled them to qualify for higher levels of borrowing.

CRIF’s full report into the cost of living crisis in Europe, and its impact on consumer attitudes towards banking and financial services – Banking on Banks will be published later this month.

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