PwC’s 2018 Digital Banking Consumer Survey: Mobile users set the agenda

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June 2018


Consumer banking habits have continued to evolve, and users have many choices for how and where they bank. New devices and digital banking tools give consumers the convenience of banking on the go, but the traditional banking center still has plenty of fans for certain kinds of transactions. In PwC’s 2018 Digital Banking Consumer Survey, we look beyond this split to see how firms can serve the needs of today’s consumers. One conclusion: banks need to think “mobile first” to win in this market.

2018 PwC Digital Banking Survey - PwC

Digital banking: what people really think

PwC has been asking consumers about their banking habits for several years now. In our 2018 survey, we’ve seen some clear preferences with respect to channels and goals. In some cases, the trends aren’t surprising, but there’s a gap between what consumers want and what they’re getting from their banks.

In our 2018 survey, we see five big themes:

  • Think mobile-first, or else
  • We don’t just value convenience
  • Branches aren’t going away
  • Many users are becoming less “engaged”—but not all
  • Most financial consumers are goal-oriented—and they need help reaching those goals

...and why banks should pay attention

Each of the ideas we’re following can affect how financial institutions market, sell and deliver their services. With mobile banking, for example, online-dominant consumers are becoming mobile-dominant consumers—and everyone else is shifting that way, too. Last year, we saw the rise of “omni-digital” consumers: those who prefer to interact with their bank digitally, without a preference for using a laptop, a tablet or a smartphone. But now, we see that a clear preference has been forming, and the smartphone won the contest. We’ve learned more about how people choose their primary bank, as well as the other firms they use for deposits, borrowing and investing. It turns out that, while convenience is important, people value other attributes, and these offer openings to providers who want to step up their game in a non-core market.

We’ve learned more about why customers keep visiting branches, and that points to some strategic implications for how banks can manage their footprint and control costs. We’ve seen that people appear less “engaged” with their financial providers. This may not be a bad thing, but it does highlight just how little some banks know about their users. Finally, we’ve looked at the goals that drive banks’ customers, and where users really need help.

Winners and losers

In a time of changing attitudes and behaviors, some established firms may find ways to pull ahead, and others may find their position slipping. There is a growing group of customers that care more about apps and online offerings than physical branch proximity. Regional and community banks often haven’t done enough to offer the full set of features to attract new buyers—or, if they have feature-rich apps, they often haven’t marketed them well. This is all happening quickly, and it’s very fluid.

Banks have a lot of data about their users. But just counting customer interactions doesn’t say much about whether those actions are meaningful. Learning how to gauge sentiment, and whether you’re meeting customer needs and expectations, can make the difference between moving ahead and falling behind.

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David Schiff

Principal, FS Digital and Customer-Driven Transformations, PwC US

Scott Evoy

Financial Services Advisory Digital Leader, PwC US

Ashish Jain

Principal, PwC US

Greta Lovenheim Capps

Director, Financial Services Analytics, PwC US

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