Online banking grows but personal contact still valued, survey finds

Irish consumers still want banks that offer one-to-one advice, EY research finds

A quarter of of respondents to EY’s survey said Irish banks are falling behind when it comes to providing easy-to-use digital solutions. Photograph: Rich Seymour/ISPC/iStockphoto

Ireland has one of the highest rates of adoption of online banking services in western Europe but consumers still want banks that can offer advice in person or over the phone.

The latest EY global consumer banking survey found that 41 per cent of Irish consumers were now using online banking more than they did 12 months ago, while just under a third (32 per cent) said they use mobile banking more.

Consumers also said they visit bank branches and also call their bank significantly less than they did 12 months ago, with both forms of contact seeing a 41 per cent and 36 per cent decrease respectively.

However, while the survey underscored the growing popularity of digital banking it also revealed the value still attached to human contact and a physical branch, with nearly half of respondents saying they did not trust a financial organisation that did not have branches.


Branch access

Nearly 60 per cent said that while they were happy to research products and transact online, they need to be able to visit a branch or talk to someone over the phone at key times, such as when they want advice or to avail of a new product.

More than half (54 per cent ) said it was important they were able to speak to someone at their bank 24 hours a day, seven days a week either over the phone or in person.

“Our research shows that while consumers value the ability to tailor and control their banking experience by using digital channels, there is still high demand for human contact and the presence of a physical branch,” financial services advisory partner at EY Colin Ryan said.

“The challenge for financial services providers is therefore how they can deliver cutting-edge digital and online services to enable their customers, whilst at the same time ensuring they have the expertise on the ground to advise or support them in person at the right time,” he said.

The migration online has also made consumer more likely to switch providers, the survey revealed, with 42 per cent saying they would not hesitate to change bank if they found one with a better online or digital offering, compared with a European average of 32 per cent.

In the same vein, 25 per cent of respondents said Irish banks are falling behind when it comes to providing easy-to-use digital solutions.

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times