Financial Services Industry leads in offering digital experiences in Singapore

DigitalCFO Newsroom | 16 November 2021

Mobile Banking being the most preferred mode of interaction: Survey

  • 83% of Singaporeans prefer online interactions when it comes to banking
  • Singaporeans have completed an average 6.94 online activities in past 3 months
  • 49% of Singaporeans have a bank account with a digital bank

Publicis Sapient, a digital business transformation company, announced the launch of the third edition of its Digital Life Index which reveals that the Financial Services Industry ranks tops in Singapore when it comes to offering digital experiences. This is followed by Retail as well as Government and Public Services, rounding up the top three industries to be recognised for their digital transformation efforts.

The Days of the Bricks and Mortar Bank Branch may be numbered

Digital experiences must remain a priority for the financial services industry above four in five (83%) Singaporean respondents* indicated preferring online interactions over in-person interactions with banking. More specifically, mobile banking is revealed to be the most frequent mode of interaction with a bank among Singaporeans.

  • Latest research shows that 1 in 2 (50%) Singaporeans turn to bank mobile apps for banking interactions while 33% rely on bank websites.
  • The behaviour changes with offline channels; just 12% of Singaporeans choose bank branches as their primary mode of communication with their bank and 4% concentrate their banking activities at an ATM. 

This is no surprise as consumers are spending more time online amid a time of restricted movement and tightened COVID-19 measures worldwide.

  • Three in four (74%) Singaporean respondents are spending more time online in the past year, while 17% are spending the same amount of time online.
  • Just 9% indicated that they are spending less time online in the past year.
  • Singaporeans have completed an average of 6.94 online activities in the past 3 months, slightly below the global average of 7.05 online activities.

With online banking services, research from Publicis Sapient’s Digital Life Index unveils that dissatisfaction typically occurs when a certain activity is too difficult to navigate or requires too many steps to complete, signalling a need for more seamless digital experiences across channels.

“People are shifting many of their activities from the physical to the digital world, a behavioural change that is reflected in our research,” said Emma Scales, Managing Director APAC at Publicis Sapient. “Since consumers today have easier access and exposure to a large and diverse set of digital services, they’re no longer satisfied with just getting what they want. Today’s consumer demands flexibility in how and where they engage financial services to get what they want. Banks that take advantage of this shift will stand to outpace consumers and attract a new generation of customers. On the contrary, banks that fail to adapt to the digital age and the rising demand for convenient, fuss-free online experiences risk extinction.”

Traditionally White Gloved services Now preferred as Online Interactions

Research from Publicis Sapient shows that account opening and management services that traditionally required higher levels of white glove service are now preferred as online interactions by Singaporeans. 

  • 64% of Singapore respondents prefer to apply for a new credit card online
  • 57% prefer managing their investments online
  • 52% prefer opening a bank account online
  • 52% prefer applying or getting approved for a loan online

The future of physical bank branches could reside in its ability to serve advisory needs.

  • 47% of Singapore respondents prefer speaking with a financial advisor in-person at bank with just 33% leaning towards an online interaction.
  • Only 13% used bank mobile apps to seek financial advice or chat with an advisor in the past 3 months.

Opportunities for Digital Banks in Singapore

The market for digital-first banks is growing in Singapore, with adoption here surpassing that of the global average of 44% of all respondents.1 in 2 Singapore (49%) respondents stated that they have a bank account with a digital bank.

However, digital-only banks still have some way to go to capture Singapore’s growing pool of digital-first consumers. Comparatively, a whopping 83% of respondents in neighbouring country Thailand have a bank account with digital banks.

Opportunities-wise, digital banks can stand to benefit from Singaporeans who are on the hunt for new banking providers. Digital Life Index research unveils that 34% of Singapore respondents have already decided to change or are considering changing their banks or financial institutions in the next year.

“The clear preference for digital channels to execute most finance-related actions reflect the success of the Financial Services Industry’s digital transformation efforts in Singapore, a country with a flourishing FinTech sector with over 1,000 FinTech firms and upwards of 40 innovation labs. However, all hope is not lost for physical bank branches. Our research has shown that consumers in Singapore still prefer that trusted in-person connection for their advisory needs. At the end of the day, good investments still need the human touch.

“Meanwhile, the adoption of digital-only banks is growing in Southeast Asia. Digital banks are attracting consumers by offering better digital experiences and attractive features like competitive rates. With the nation’s ongoing FinTech revolution and changing financial ecosystem, Singapore presents market opportunities for digital banks or traditional financial institutions looking to venture into the digital bank playing field,” concluded Scales.

*704 Singaporeans aged 18+, June 2021

To view the full report, please visit https://thedigitallifeindex.publicissapient.com.