Over the last few years, bank branch networks shrank gradually by 3%-4% in much of the western world as banks moved process-driven interactions — like opening a bank account — to digital channels. This migration was thrown into hyperdrive during the pandemic, which gave consumers no choice but to bank digitally.
A few things have become obvious over the course of the pandemic. In the face of city and statewide lockdowns, more people have transitioned online to access their bank accounts and other financial services. Accenture’s Banking Consumer Study 2020 found that 32% of customers chose to contact their banks through a mobile app or website at least once a week in 2018. In 2020, that rose to 50%. The percentage of customers who chose to contact their bank through a laptop or desktop computer also rose by 8 percentage points, from 35% to 43%.
Payment behaviors have also changed. COVID-19 accelerated the move from cash to contactless payments, at least in Europe. In the UK, for example, ATM withdrawals dropped by 50% in the second half of March. In contrast, 55% of consumers increased contactless payments.
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