13% of Brits will switch to a digital-only bank this year

Digital-only banks are set to be a hit with UK banking customers when they launch this year, new research has found, with one in eight (13%) claiming that they plan to switch.

Several providers are set to launch services in the UK this year, including Atom and Starling, with no physical branches.

The online poll of 2,000 Brits, conducted by software provider Intelligent Environments, also revealed that more than a third of those surveyed believe digital-only banks will soon become the norm. 34% said that within five years they expect more people to have an account with a digital-only bank than a traditional provider.

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The research indicates that many consumers feel more confident about digital-only banks, in part due to the increasing importance of mobile and digital banking. 60% of respondents said mobile and digital banking services are very important to them, and almost a third (31%) said that a digital-only bank would offer better mobile and digital banking services than a traditional bank.

Additionally, 14% said they would trust a digital-only bank more than a traditional bank, and 16% said digital-only banks will have fewer security problems than their traditional counterparts.

However, not all are so confident in digital-only banks. The research also showed that more than half (52%) of UK banking customers don’t like the idea of not being able to speak to someone in person if they have a problem, along with 44% claiming that they wouldn’t switch because in branch services are important to them.

“Digital-only banks are in a strong position to cause major disruption to traditional providers when they launch in the UK later this year,” said David Webber, managing director of Intelligent Environments. “Our research shows that people believe these new providers will offer superior online and mobile services.

“When taken together with the lower operating and efficiency costs naturally incurred by not having any branches, digital-only banks will be in a very competitive position indeed.

However, Webber claimed digital-only banks do not spell the end for traditional branches with many people still favouring the ‘personal touch’.

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“In-branch services are still highly valued by a significant proportion of the population, while others have voiced concerns about not being able to speak to a customer service representative in person if they had a problem,” he said.

“In fact, traditional providers have a fantastic opportunity now to improve their digital and mobile services, and to focus on providing a superior in-branch experience for customers. What is certain is that the introduction of digital-only banks will shake up the personal banking sector.”

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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