Sixty one percent of US banking customers favor portable banking account numbers

Thu Feb 28, 2013 8:36am EST

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IRVING, Texas,  Feb. 28, 2013  /PRNewswire/ -- Portable account numbers,
designed to make switching between banking providers easier, would be welcomed
by customers across the world, according to an online YouGov study conducted by
BT.  

The research, which surveyed more than 6,500 people across six countries
worldwide, found that the majority of consumers in  Spain  (76 percent),  Hong
Kong  (70 percent),  France  (64 percent),  Germany  (61 percent) and the UK (62
percent) all agree that a portable identity number - allowing them to switch
banks without changing account details - would be useful.   

Despite this, there are mixed feelings about the prospect of banks sharing their
IT infrastructure and having access to customers' personal information, which
reflects a concern about the security and protection of personal data. In fact,
many respondents felt that banks sharing infrastructure would be a bad idea (38
percent), whilst a significant number were undecided (28 percent), even though
it would have the potential to improve competition and allow them to switch
banks more easily.  

Of those countries surveyed, only in  Hong Kong  (75 percent) and  Spain  (54
percent) did a majority of respondents think that a shared IT infrastructure for
banks was a good idea.

Meanwhile, the majority of respondents across all markets did not consider
engaging in dialogue or sharing information with their banks over social media
channels as a priority, despite the explosion of sites like Twitter and Facebook
across the globe. On the contrary, when asked which three tools they would most
like their bank to provide, customers indicated that they would like to see more
sophisticated online tools such as peer review sections (32 percent), webchat
facilities (23 percent) and 'compare-my-bank' type services (29 percent) to give
them better information and help them make informed decisions.  

Tom Regent, president, global banking and financial markets, BT Global Services
said: "There is clearly an appetite for technology and services which help
increase transparency and competition, such as number portability and richer
online comparison tools. But there is also a significant level of apprehension
around the creation of a shared banking infrastructure.  With any new solution
that the industry moves forward with, they will need to be mindful that
consumers need reassurance around security and protection of their data. 
Increasingly, we are working with our bank customers to develop security
strategies, helping them to put effective risk and compliance management in
place, test for malicious system attacks, and support identity and access
management."

When asked about which three factors would be the most appealing when
considering moving banks, the results were fairly consistent across all
countries. Good online banking facilities (39 percent), the presence of a local
branch (45 percent) and the ability to access banking services 24/7 (29 percent)
were ranked highest.  

Respondents in  Spain  placed more emphasis than others on having trust in a
bank's brand (37 percent) and reputation for security (36 percent) - ranking
that higher than factors such as 24/7 availability of banking services (22
percent).    

Some interesting geographical differences also emerged in the perceptions of
banking technology, with German consumers the least likely to choose mobile
banking in their top three most trusted banking technologies, followed closely
by the UK. Only five percent of Germans and 10 percent of Brits said that mobile
banking is one of their three most trusted technologies, although the results
were low across all countries. Across the board, Internet banking, in-branch
self-service and ATMs were viewed as the three most trustworthy technologies.  

Tom Regent continued: "Banks are increasingly focused on providing services via
smart phones and tablet devices in order to keep pace with digital changes and
innovation. While this is an important strategy, banks must be careful not to
lose sight of the need for human contact in either the branch or via a local
call center agent.  Our research shows that these continue to be customers' most
trusted and preferred channels."  

Customers are even more cautious about the use of alternative payments, such as
Twollars, Bitcoins, Facebook Credits and virtual wallets. The percentage of
respondents who had tried alternative payments was less than 10 percent across
most of the countries polled. However, respondents from  Hong Kong  and  Spain 
were the most likely to try alternative payment methods in the next 18 months
(43 percent and 36 percent respectively).  Respondents from the  USA  and 
Germany  were least likely to say they would try alternative payment systems in
the next 18 months (12 percent and nine percent).  

Notes to editors:  
Smart Service  is the latest in a series of research projects commissioned by BT
to track consumer attitudes towards customer services and technology in retail
banking.   

The  Smart Service  research follows an earlier study by BT titled  Youbiquity
Finance, which found that found that despite the growing use of telephone,
mobile and internet banking in recent years, almost three quarters (73 percent)
of customers in the UK see their local branch as the most vital link with their
bank in the future - second only to cash machines.  

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was
6,647 adults in  France  (1010),  Germany  (1053),  Hong Kong  (518),  Spain 
(1006), the  USA  (1000) and the UK (2060). Fieldwork was undertaken between 
11-27 December 2012. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been
weighted and are representative of all adults (aged 18+) in each market.

Further details on the research can be found at: 
http://www.globalservices.bt.com/static/assets/pdf/financial_services/smart_service_research.pdf

For further information

All news releases can be accessed at our web sites: 
http://www.globalservices.bt.com/us/en/news  and  http://www.btplc.com/news

About BT

BT is one of the world's leading providers of communications services and
solutions, serving customers in more than 170 countries.  Its principal
activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local,
national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use
at home, at work and on the move; broadband and internet products and services
and converged fixed/mobile products and services.  BT consists principally of
four lines of business: BT Global Services, BT Retail, BT Wholesale and
Openreach.

In the year ended  31 March 2012, BT Group's revenue was £18,897m with profit
before taxation of £2,445m.

British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc
and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group.  BT Group
plc is listed on stock exchanges in  London  and New York.   

For more information, visit  www.btplc.com 

SOURCE  BT


Kris Kozamchak, Head of PR and Corporate Relations U.S., +1-972-310-9055,
kris.kozamchak@bt.com

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