Banking in the digital age

As smartphones flood the market, a change in consumer habits towards internet and mobile banking is emerging

Internet banking in Australia is on the rise.
Internet banking is on the rise.

Australian consumers are embracing mobile banking more than their overseas counterparts, are less inclined to use cash and tend to make more of their own investment decisions instead of relying on financial advisers, a trend more widely seen in the United States and across the Asia-Pacific region.

A study of the investment habits of 28,000 consumers in 56 countries shows that more than half of Australians aged over 16 now own smartphones, suggesting a future surge in the uptake of the consumer services they offer.

“Investment decisions and the management of personal wealth vary greatly by gender, age and geographic region,” says Chris Percy, managing director of Nielsen Pacific, which conducted the survey.

“Compared with other countries, Australians are embracing internet-based banking services at a similar rate but are less likely to rely on cash.”

More than two-thirds (70 per cent) of Australian consumers have used the internet for banking services in the past three months and 40 per cent of Gen-Y respondents (the 21-29 year olds) used mobile banking in the same period.

“The banking sector is seeing huge impacts with regards to the growth of internet-based products and services, particularly among the younger deomographics,” says Percy.

“The increase and availability of mobile technology is resulting in huge behavioural shifts, enabling consumers to investment anywhere, anytime.”

“More than half of Australians aged over 16 years old now own a smartphone, so we foresee major growth in the range of services offered by financial institutions on mobile devices, which will further drive this trend.”

Interestingly though, 54 per cent of Australians had visited a physical bank in the past three months, with women outnumbering men - 58 per cent of women went to a branch compared with 47 per cent of men.

Around 80 per cent of global respondents use cash to pay for entertainment while Australians prefer to use credit or debit cards.

When it comes to investment habits, Australians lag their global counterparts. One third of global consumers invest their money, while only 21 per cent of Australian respondents say they do. Regardless, stocks are the most favored investment vehicle for all consumers. Mutual funds or trusts were used on average by 52 per cent of global consumers, falling to 23 per cent among Australian respondents. Similarly, the global average for investing in gold, silver and other precious metals was 33 per cent compared with 10 per cent in Australia.

And only 16 per cent of the Australians surveyed said they used a financial planner to help guide the investment activities.

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