Traditional Banks Stand the Test of Time: Users Still Prefer Them Over Digital-Only Options

Despite the advancements in digital banking technology, 27% of people worldwide still strictly rely on traditional banks, completely avoiding digital-only banking, revealed UserTesting in a recent global survey conducted by OnePoll. This includes 28% of baby boomers and 26% of millennials. In contrast, only 12% of respondents prefer digital banks with no physical presence.

The survey also found that although digital banking has many perks, four in five digital bank users wish their banks offered some of the benefits of traditional banks, such as the ability to speak with humans for customer support, as expressed by 38% of them.

“We’re seeing a strange dichotomy in banking unfolding in front of us. We know physical banking branches are closing in droves, yet the data here supports that consumers—especially younger generations—crave the in-person benefits traditional banks provide. It’s important for digital banking platforms to consider the preferences and behaviors of their customers when building and designing products and services in order to meet these more human-oriented banking needs,” said Dana Bishop, VP of Experience Research Strategy, UserTesting.

Although digital wallets and mobile banking apps offer many benefits, they have also led some people to spend more recklessly, as revealed by Accenture's Top 10 Banking Trends for 2023 report. The study by UserTesting and OnePoll confirmed this by showing that around 40% of consumers worldwide are more likely to spend recklessly when using digital payment options.

Additional findings include:

Digital wallets are more popular in the US than in Australia and the UK

The survey found that 67% of Americans trust digital wallets and mobile banking apps, with higher trust among Gen Z (76%) and millennials (86%) but lower trust among baby boomers at 48%.

Among UK respondents, 54% trust digital wallets and mobile banking apps, with the highest trust among Gen X (64%) and baby boomers (60%) but lowest among the Silent Generation (47%).

Among Australian respondents, 45% expressed trust in digital wallets and mobile banking apps, with Gen Z and millennials showing the highest trust levels (53% and 52%, respectively), while baby boomers displayed the least trust at 36%.

More American respondents trust digital banks over traditional banks than those in the UK and Australia 

As many as 33% of Americans trust traditional banks more than digital banks, while 29% trust digital banks more than physical banks. While 28% of the respondents trust both types of banks equally, only 6% of the respondents expressed no trust at all.

Talking about trust in banks, 35% of Australians reported that they trust traditional banks more, 42% reported trusting both equally, and only 4% of respondents trust digital banks more than traditional banks. About 11% of Australians do not trust banks at all.

In the UK, the majority (52%) of respondents trust traditional and digital banks equally, while 28% trust traditional banks more. Only 7% of respondents trust digital banks more than traditional ones, and 6% claim not to trust banks at all, similar to the US.

Digital bank users desire some perks of traditional banks  

As many as 79% of American digital bank users would like their banks to offer some of the advantages of traditional banks, such as speaking with a human for customer support, which is important to 43% of respondents. Additionally, 43% want the same ATM fee waivers that customers of traditional banks receive. This preference for traditional banking features is especially true for Gen Z, with 60%, and the Silent Generation, with 49%.

Also, 73% of Australian digital bank users desire traditional bank perks, with 31% seeking to talk to human customer support, especially the Silent Generation (47%) and Gen Z (34%). Moreover, 26% of respondents prefer traditional banks' waived fees for using their ATMs.

Approximately 71% of digital bank users in the UK want some of the benefits of traditional banks, with 27% looking for human customer support, mostly the Silent Generation (43%) and millennials (30%). In addition, 23% believe that traditional banks provide better card perks and rewards than digital banks.

Most respondents do not speak with banking tellers regularly

More than half (51%) of American respondents who prefer traditional banks stated that they prefer to speak with bank tellers in person. Similarly, 44% of Australians and 43% of the UK respondents prefer face-to-face interactions with bank tellers.

Although most respondents prefer traditional banks that offer human interactions, recent face-to-face interactions with bank tellers differ by country. In the US, 55% have not had face-to-face interactions with bank tellers in the past two weeks, compared to 88% of respondents from Australia and 81% from the UK.

Bishop concludes that there is a need for banking institutions that exist both physically and digitally, as each type of platform has its unique advantages.