V4B Business Finance

More users opting for webchat banking services

It may be taboo to talk about money with friends and family but when it comes to your bank it’s a different matter, with consumers taking advantage of banking webchat services than ever before, according to the latest research from UK Finance.

The popularity of services such as Twitter, Facebook messenger and WhatsApp, is encouraging banks to invest in fast and convenient webchat services with customers embracing online support, according to ‘The Way We Bank Now’ report.

Major banks had over 5.5 million webchats with customers in 2017, the equivalent of 622 per hour. The digital innovation has transformed the way we manage our money – in 2017 customers logged into apps over 5.5 billion times, a 13%  increase since 2016 – and increasingly customers are utilising new technologies to talk to experts outside conventional bank branch hours rather than taking time out of their working day.

Stephen Jones, chief executive at UK Finance said: “Technology is changing the way we communicate, work and shop and, as a result, the way we choose to manage our money. The industry has responded to this seismic social change, which is very much led by customers looking to make the most of digital innovation for convenience. The assumption that British consumers shy away from talking about money looks to be consigned to the last century, as webchats and video banking prove increasingly popular. And with over 22 million British customers having downloaded banking apps, this trend is not going away.

“It doesn’t stop there however. Banks are looking at analytics, the internet of things (IoT), virtual assistants and other technologies as customers’ desire for convenience drives a shift towards an increasingly digital world.  Over the next few years Open Banking and artificial intelligence will change the relationship we have, not only with our banks but also how we fundamentally access and utilise financial products and services.”

Aside from webchat, the report also identifies customer banking trends. Britons are increasingly turning to their smartphones, with 22 million using a banking app in 2017, up from 19.6 million in the previous year. There were over 5.5 billion log-ins to banking apps in 2017 an increase of 13 per cent on the previous year.

Online banking is proving popular across all age ranges. Almost half (49%) of 65-year olds are banking online. Uptake on mobile banking is most popular for ‘millennials’ with almost six in ten (59%) of 16-24 year olds and 69% of 25-34 year olds using their smartphones.

The convenience of banking online and through the increasing popularity of apps has led to fewer transactions through branches. An average bank branch saw a 26% drop in visits since 2012 (140), equating to 104 visits per day in 2017.

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