Banks Europe

41% of European consumers unable to access financial services during lockdown

New research shows digital unavailability and restrictions in movement have left over a third of consumers out of options

Research from Signicat, the Trusted Digital Identity™ company, has revealed that 41% of consumers across Europe have been unable to access new financial services thanks to a combination of pandemic lockdown restrictions and lack of access to digital options. The research of over 4000 consumers also discovered that two-thirds expect improvements following these poor experiences. One of these improvements should be 100% digital onboarding of customers.

With many bank branches closed in recent months, and movement limited for most people to short essential trips, access to financial services in person has been limited like never before. Many consumers have turned to online and mobile channels, but a large number have found this impossible.

When asked what they thought of financial service providers that didn’t allow remote digital onboarding without the need to visit a branch, only 20% were understanding of this limitation, while a third couldn’t see why fully digital onboarding wasn’t possible in 2020. Two thirds of respondents saw COVID-19 as a catalyst for 100% digital onboarding with only 14% disagreeing, saying that they did not expect financial service providers to be more digital due to COVID-19.

The findings, due to be released in the upcoming report “**The Battle to Onboard 2020: The impact of COVID-19 and beyond at a crucial inflection point for financial service providers. 70% of those surveyed had an account with a digital-first financial service provider such as a challenger bank, and 69% of those considered it to be better than more traditional services. Those dissatisfied with their experience under lockdown are more likely than ever to move to a mobile-first account. With most consumers using a mobile service and enjoying the experience, traditional providers are more at risk than ever from consumers moving their day-to-day finances to challengers.

“Our regular research into consumer attitudes around digital onboarding has found that financial services have struggled to keep up with consumer demands in the later years,” said Asger Hattel, CEO, Signicat. “One of the effects of the pandemic has been to bring this into sharp focus, turning a desire for digital services into a desperate need. Consumers expect to be digital customers which are, according to big banks, 2-3 times more profitable and more loyal than branch-only customers.”

“The majority of consumers want the option of banking 100% digitally, including the initial application and onboarding. Digital onboarding is in fact crucial, as consumers will see it as a preview of the service—a poor user experience will lead to many abandoned applications.

The survey reflects the findings of the 11:FS Insight Report on COVID-19, which saw the short term impact as a sharp increase in digital banking coupled with cash, ATM, and branch use plummeting.

The research is part of the fourth instalment of Signicat’s regular Battle to Onboard report, which covers attitudes to digital onboarding more broadly and is due to be released later this year. If you’d like to receive a copy of “The Battle to Onboard IV: The impact of Covid 19 and beyond” when it is released, please sign up here:


  • Editorial Director of the The Fintech Times

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