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COVID-19 Set to Radically Accelerate Digital Transformation in the Retail Banking Industry

BOSTON —The coronavirus pandemic is on a path to radically change the way consumers interact with their banks, with 24% of customers planning to use branches less, or stop visiting completely, according to a new study released today by Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

The retail banking consumer “pulse” survey, which will be updated every two to three weeks, seeks to track short- and long-term shifts in consumer behavior and sentiment on the basis of data from more than 5,000 respondents across 15 markets. This survey, conducted from April 13 to April 27, examines channel usage, assesses customer satisfaction with banks’ crisis management, and seeks to determine potential industry trends that will endure after the crisis.

According to the study, millennial and Gen-Z consumers have particularly warmed to digital channels during the crisis, with 44% of participants ages 18 to 34 enrolling in online or mobile banking for the first time.

Along with an increase in online conversion rates, brand advocacy is on the rise with only 5% of respondents criticizing banks’ reaction to the crisis. In fact, 25% of customers have recommended banks, suggesting an overall positive outlook on their bank’s response to the pandemic.

While it is likely that consumers will continue to switch from physical banking to online and mobile services, the personal touch provided by branch managers and customer service assistants remains important. Banks will need to rise to the challenge of embedding the benefits of in-branch, personal interactions within their digital offerings and, at the same time, improve on the holistic customer experience.