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The pandemic may be receding, but its effects on consumer banking aren’t

  • Covid has changed the consumer’s relationship with cash, savings, and digital banking.
  • It’s becoming increasingly likely that these changes will far outlive the pandemic.
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The pandemic may be receding, but its effects on consumer banking aren’t

Over the last 18 months, it’s become fairly obvious that the pandemic has caused major changes in how consumers perceive and interact with cash, savings, and digital banking tools. What’s perhaps been less obvious is how long-lasting these changes will be, and whether they will outlive the pandemic.

New research shows that even as people around the world get vaccinated and return to in-person activities, the pandemic-induced changes in their financial behaviors continue to persist, and in most cases grow even stronger.

A recent study conducted by Chase examined consumer behaviors among over 2,000 men and women between the ages of 18 and 57+, with a particular focus on digital banking tools, cash usage, contactless payment methods, savings habits, and the demand for personalized banking services.

Cash continues to lose its hold

Even as the pandemic recedes, cash still seems to be losing popularity, and not just due to Covid-related health concerns. 13% of both Baby Boomers and Gen Z admitted they wouldn’t feel comfortable making cash-based transactions again, even after the pandemic is over.

At the same time, the use of contactless payments has been growing through the pandemic. Last year, almost half (45%) of all consumers said they were more frequently using digital payment options like P2P payments, according to Chase’s 2020 Digital Banking Attitudes Study.  

The trend continues this year: 47% of respondents either started or continued to use contactless payment options in 2021, and nearly three-fourths (73%) believed they are a more secure and convenient form of payment.

Increasing dependence on mobile deposit options

The vast majority of consumers (89%) say they prefer to use a mobile app to deposit money into their account, since this option provides flexibility and allows them to deposit checks from virtually anywhere.

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Although mobile deposit options are more popular among younger generations, Baby Boomers are not that far behind: the majority (52%) are now also using mobile apps to deposit their funds.

Consumers are saving up more through digital tools

40% of respondents hoped to contribute more to their savings accounts in 2021, and they believed digital tools would play an important role in helping them achieve that, according to last year’s study.

This year’s research finds that 84% of consumers are using automated saving features on digital tools like Chase Autosave, which offer services such as automatic transfers from a user’s checking account to their savings account (comparable figures for the previous year are not available).

Furthermore, 41% of respondents believe that having digital tools that allow them to see their credit and debit card usage, understand their cash flow, and review their top spending categories would help them save up more and improve overall money management.

Consumers want even more personalized banking services

People want their bank to offer personalized tools and services to make them better informed about their saving and spending habits. The demand for personalized banking is highest among young people: 79% of Gen Z consumers say they want more personalized offers and information from their banks to help them achieve their financial goals and save up more.

Are these changes here to stay?

The growth in the use of digital banking tools is likely to continue long after the pandemic is over, according to a spokesperson at Chase. This is because consumers have become accustomed to the convenience and long-term benefits of digital money management.

“Our survey further confirms that digital banking tools are empowering consumers to take control of their finances,” the Chase spokesperson told Tearsheet. “Personalized features are a good example. When consumers have access to personalized daily insights about their spending, saving, earning and credit scores, they’re able to make much better long-term financial decisions.”

Yan Wu, co-founder and VP of data science and operations at Bond, finds it interesting that consumers across all age groups are embracing digital banking services, not just as a time-saving tool, but also as a force for helping them make improvements to their financial lives. He expects this trend to accelerate over the coming years as people start to see digital transactions and currencies as not just convenient, but important for their financial well-being.

“The implications for the future are vast, and we’re excited by the new insights that consumers will gain from the increasing personalization of everyday financial activities such as making purchases, insuring your home, saving up, and paying the bills,” said Wu.

“Eventually, this will give way to higher-value questions for consumers, such as: ‘When can I afford to retire? How much do I need to save each month for my kid’s college? When can I get out of credit card debt?’ By making it easier for customers to make these decisions, personalized digital banking tools will help them lead healthier financial lives.”

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