Branch Banking Remains Crucial for 95% in Hong Kong

Branch Banking Remains Crucial for 95% in Hong Kong

by February 27, 2024

In the bustling financial hub of Hong Kong, consumer satisfaction with banking services remains high, driven by a blend of traditional and modern banking preferences.

Consumers remain largely satisfied with their primary bank relationships but are not putting all their eggs in one basket, actively using multiple providers across critical services.

Banks hoping to capture more customer wallet shares will need to improve their game regarding instant payments, digital concierge access, financial education, and transparent AI tools. However, the human touch still carries tremendous weight – physical branches and in-person discussions are far from obsolete in account holders’ minds.

The 2024 Consumer Banking Report by EPAM provides an insightful exploration into the dynamics of Hong Kong’s banking sector, highlighting the factors that influence consumer decisions, their shifting preferences, and how technology is forging the future of banking.

Factors driving consumer choice

Hong Kong consumers exhibit a strong affinity towards their primary banks, with an overwhelming 85 percent expressing satisfaction with their current accounts.

Key factors, including access to local branches, brand trust, and a seamless digital experience, underpin this satisfaction.

Good customer service emerges as a linchpin for consumer happiness, with 34 percent attributing their contentment to exemplary service standards.

However, there are clear avenues for improvement for the two percent of dissatisfied consumers. EPAM’s report highlights that offering rewards or incentives, enhancing customer service, and expanding local presence could significantly bolster consumer satisfaction.

Trust is the bedrock of consumer confidence

Trust forms the cornerstone of the banking relationship, with 72 percent of Hong Kong consumers expressing confidence in their banks’ ability to align investments with their goals.

An overwhelming majority trust their banks to handle finances securely and safeguard their data, emphasizing the paramount importance of data security in today’s digital age.

Nevertheless, a small but significant cohort remains wary, citing concerns over data breaches and a perceived lack of alignment with their best interests.

Addressing these apprehensions is imperative for banks aiming to cultivate enduring relationships with their customers.

Dynamics of consumer loyalty

Despite prevailing satisfaction, 36 percent of consumers contemplate switching banks in the next 12 months, with competitive interest rates and fees emerging as primary motivators.

EPAM’s findings underscore the importance of product relevance and financial incentives in fostering long-term loyalty.

Moreover, a significant proportion of consumers have embraced a multi-provider approach, with 76 percent availing services from alternative financial institutions.

This trend underscores the need for banks to diversify offerings and adapt to evolving consumer preferences.

Consumer preferences in a digital landscape

As Hong Kong navigates towards a digital future, consumer expectations are poised to evolve.

Customers prioritise instant payments (86 percent) and digital banker access (80 percent) among the services they expect from their banks, reflecting a growing appetite for seamless, tech-driven experiences.

Hong Kong Bank

Meanwhile, 76 percent of respondents use services from multiple financial providers, with an average of two additional providers being used. This trend towards multibanking is facilitated by third-party apps like PayPal and Alipay, indicating a shift towards more diversified financial management practices.

There’s a burgeoning demand for personalised financial guidance, with consumers expressing a keen interest in AI-driven tools for budgeting, investment planning, and financial education.

Despite the high satisfaction among users of AI-enabled tools (98 percent), a considerable portion of the population (41 percent) remains hesitant to act on financial advice provided by AI. This indicates the enduring value of human interaction in the financial decision-making process.

The report also highlights a desire for integrated financial management solutions, with features like digital AI assistants, personalised budgeting support, and the ability to integrate accounts from multiple institutions gaining importance.

Navigating the branch vs. digital dilemma

Despite the proliferation of digital banking channels, physical branches retain significance in Hong Kong’s banking landscape.

Hong Kong Bank

In an age dominated by digital transactions, 95 percent of consumers have visited a bank branch in the past year, with many citing the ease of face-to-face interaction (60 percent) and difficulties with online transactions (28 percent). This underscores the continued importance of physical branches in the banking ecosystem.

While mobile apps and online platforms offer convenience, a sizeable portion of consumers still gravitate towards branches for complex transactions and personalised assistance.

Bridging the digital divide requires comprehensive education and user-friendly interfaces to empower consumers to leverage online banking seamlessly.

Charting a path forward

EPAM’s 2024 Hong Kong Consumer Banking Report provides a comprehensive roadmap for banks navigating the dynamic terrain of consumer preferences and technological advancements.

Banks can forge resilient relationships with their clientele and thrive in an increasingly competitive landscape by prioritising customer-centricity, fostering trust through robust security measures, and embracing innovation.

In essence, understanding and adapting to the evolving needs and preferences of Hong Kong consumers will be pivotal in shaping the future trajectory of the banking industry in this vibrant metropolis.

In doing so, banks can not only navigate the complexities of today’s banking landscape but also emerge as catalysts for positive change in the lives of Hong Kong consumers.

Featured image credit: Edited from Freepik