February 28, 2024

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HK consumers favour digital channels – drive digital economy

Consumers in Hong Kong prefer to engage with their retail banking and life insurance providers on digital channels over physical ones; while tech giants are becoming the companies that consumers in Hong Kong trust to act in their best financial interests, according to new data released by a market research company.

The firm has released a guide on consumer preferences for financial services. The report found that consumers in Asia Pacific markets are some of the most advanced when it comes to digital engagement with financial services, with 77% of banking customers in the Asia Pacific preferring digital channels, and 73% of consumers believing they should be able to accomplish any financial task on a mobile device.

In Hong Kong, 78% of respondents prefer interacting with their retail banks on digital channels, while only 39% of life insurance consumers prefer digital channels. This is in line with what the firm found in other Asia Pacific countries, including India, China, Thailand and Singapore.

While banks lead in consumers’ trust to act in the best interests of their financial wellbeing, the research found that many customers trust payment firms and technology firms over traditional financial services providers to help them better manage their finances.

Global technology giants, payment providers, eCommerce players, and even ride-sharing leaders, are already threatening established firms by offering simple, convenient and more personalised digital experiences.

The current tech giants are among the companies that consumers in Hong Kong trust to act in their best financial interests.

However, in view of the issuance of virtual banking licences in Hong Kong, it is interesting to note that only a minority of consumers will consider switching to digital-only financial services providers in the next two years – retail bank – 18%, and life insurer – 18%. These figures for Hong Kong are among the lowest in the region.

In the Asia Pacific, consumers in India, Thailand and Indonesia are most willing to consider switching to digital-only providers.

The VP, research director and region manager at the firm noted that consumers are more likely to engage with firms that prioritise helping them improve their financial wellbeing. It is expected that customers will dynamically deconstruct their personal financial services ecosystems and reassemble them with newer and better players.

Traditional institutions have several advantages, but will be left behind if they do not transform faster to meet the challenge.

According to another report, the firm’s Senior Analyst stated that the high levels of empowerment of Asia Pacific consumers affect how they choose to interact with their financial services providers.

Many prefer digital channels over physical ones, especially in mobile-first markets like mainland China, India, Thailand, and Indonesia. For life insurance customers, the situation is more heterogeneous across Asia Pacific markets, with digital channels being preferred in markets such as mainland China, Thailand, India, and Australia.

In Singapore and Malaysia, agents are still the preferred way for customers to interact with their life insurance provider. That’s not to say that financial services firms should ignore non-digital touchpoints.

The report notes that the velocity with the industry is changing is expected to accelerate, and the stakes are rising.

The market research company stated that financial institutions and service providers must understand how consumer behaviour and financial attitudes are evolving, how customers want to interact, and what matters to them when it comes to financial goals.

This will have a profound impact on how they formulate their go-to-market strategy, distribution channel strategy, and their firm’s unique value proposition.


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