Pandemic erodes in-person banking, driving 2 in 3 Singaporeans to go digital

About two-thirds (68%) of Singaporean consumers prefer to use digital channels to engage with their bank during financial hardship, a survey by global analytics software firm FICO shows.

FICO’s Advancing New Experiences in Digital Banking survey was conducted in December 2020 using an online, quantitative poll of 5,000 consumers across 10 countries carried out by an independent research company. 

Respondents were from Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

The high level of high-speed internet penetration in Singapore meant that 28% of Singaporeans preferred to communicate about hardship using online banking; 23% wanted to use their mobile banking app; 7% wanted to use phone banking; 7% communicated via email; and 3% wanted to use virtual conference technology.

“The risk of infection and social distancing requirements made branch visits less appealing last year, accelerating a shift to digital banking channels globally,” said Aashish Sharma, risk lifecycle and decision management lead for FICO in Asia Pacific. 

“Being able to deliver and manage numerous channels in line with customer preference and deliver a seamless and engaging experience is a challenge that is here to stay,” Sharma said. “Investment in customer management and communication tools that span these channels and product silos and can deliver personalization and improved decision making is key to making digital banking a success.”

Sharma added that if customers prefer digital channels during times of hardship, their most difficult time, we can expect branch banking to continue its decline.

Also, the survey revealed that across Asia Pacific, one in three consumers preferred to have all their banking needs serviced by one bank. 

In Singapore, this was slightly lower at 26%, with a further 46% saying that they “somewhat agreed” they would like to deal with just one primary bank.

“Managing multiple bank accounts or finance products with different lenders can often be a complex, time-consuming and costly process for the average banking customer,” said Sharma. “Digital banking users today are looking for greater control and visibility of their financial position.”

When asked about their willingness to try a fintech or challenger bank, 16% of Singaporeans said that they were inclined to consider a competitor with a further 47% relatively open to the idea.

“To consolidate and strengthen main bank engagement, lenders need to offer digital banking features that compete with the challengers to ensure the stickiness and viability of long-term customer relationships,” added Sharma.