Australians are comfortable using their online financial services, and are increasingly using their mobile devices to make financial choices. That’s the finding from a new joint study by mobile advertising platform InMobi and consumer research company YouGov.
The survey of 1,031 Australian smartphone and tablet users, conducted in May 2015, sought to understand the role of mobile devices and social media in the path to purchasing financial services.
It quantifies how Australians have embraced online and mobile for the use of financial services. It’s particularly high amongst Gen Y (aged 25-34 years), with 84 percent saying they use online financial services, but remains above 80 percent well into the forties, and remains at 70 percent for those aged 55 or over.
In the older age categories, though, most interaction is via a desktop or laptop computer. Only those under 35 prefer to download a mobile app than use a website on a larger screen. 39 percent of those aged 25-34 year preferred an app, compared to just 4 percent of those aged 55 and over.
Across all ages, though, respondents indicated they would be comfortable using their mobile for basic financial services, such as checking an account balance (67 percent) and finding an ATM (56 percent), but many are prepared to do far more than that. Some 61 percent of male respondents (and 46 percent of females) said they were aware of the concept of digital wallets and 42 percent would consider using one in the next 12 months.
Mastercard’s MasterPass and Coles’ Mobile Wallet both had 57 percent awareness amongst respondents. Even so, only 20 percent are currently using MasterPass and 15 percent using the Coles service.
Choosing a financial services provider
The InMobi / YouGov research also shows the importance of online when choosing financial services and products. Almost half of all respondents listed bank websites and third party financial services websites as one of the most important sources they refer to, more than those seeking advice from friends and relatives (46 percent) or from visiting or calling up a bank branch (35 percent).
Financial consumers are also increasingly prepared to sign-up for new financial services online. In all age categories more respondents said they preferred to sign up via the web (whether through a PC, laptop or mobile device) than those who wanted to do it in-person at a branch, with this preference particularly pronounced amongst those aged 25-44, with 9 out of 10 wanting to sign-up on the web.
Jon White, InMobi’s VP and general manager AU/NZ, says the survey shows consumers are looking for simple product information and transparency in the increasingly cluttered finance sector. “People feel online comparison is the best way to find impartial information about products and services without a hard sell included. That’s why just 13 percent preferred advice from a bank’s personal advisor as a trusted source of information. It’s the ability to anonymously compare prices, in their own time and space, that many people are seeking.”
Indeed, hidden fees was identified as the overwhelming reason for respondents to consider switching their financial services provider. It ranked highly across all age categories, averaging 53 percent of all respondents, but was particularly high, at 57 percent, amongst those aged 25 – 34 years. That age group seemed less concerned about bad customer service, which becomes an issue for more than 40 percent of respondents beyond the age of 45 years.
Take outs for the finance industry
Sej Patel, YouGov’s country head of ANZ, said the research highlights an online savvy nation that is prepared to embrace mobility and online when interacting with the finance sector. “The industry understands the need for applications and services that give the user control, but this research also highlights the need for transparency in pricing. Buyers are researching extensively online, then talking to family and friends, and it’s not until the later stages of their decision-making process that they engage with financial advisors or visit a bank branch, if they do at all. In that sense, the early provision of timely information, whether through advertising or a website, is essential for the sector.”
InMobi’s Jon White, adds that there’s evidence that consumers have a higher likelihood of consumers purchasing the initial product they researched online, compared to those who shopped around offline. “This highlights the importance of digital advertising for the finance sector. The right information at the right time can deliver a purchase, even if there are many consideration phases that follow. And, for those wanting to obtain younger customers, with a larger lifetime value potential, reaching them via their mobile devices is vital.”