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For Banks and Financial Institutions, COVID-19 Presents an Opportunity to Meet Consumers Online

Online banking isn't a new concept, but it may become a mainstay due to the spread of COVID-19. As Americans get used to a new normal of social distancing, consumers are adjusting their needs and wants regarding finances — handling their own and changing where they get information or advice.

“It’s everyone’s responsibility to prevent the spread of COVID-19," Richard Crone, a payments expert and CEO of Crone Consulting LLC told NerdWallet. “For the safety of consumers, the bank staff, all our families and the community, nobody should be walking into a branch. Financial services can all be obtained digitally. It’s a risk we don’t have to take.”

Once the pandemic panic has subsided, more of us will be used to accessing financial services remotely and may be more likely to rely on online banking. Using Feedback Loop's rapid consumer feedback platform, we surveyed more than 400 adults in the United States to see how their usage and opinions of online banking and finance have changed since the COVID-19 pandemic has become a reality.

Some key findings:

  • A majority of participants (66%) report using online banking at least once a week, and those who are concerned about COVID-19 or follow the news more closely seem to most likely to use online banking instead of visiting banks in person. 45% are more likely to pay bills online, 43% are more likely to check balances online.
  • 70% of participants have a more favorable rating of online banking now. Those with the highest favorable rating of online banking include participants with higher household incomes, those living with children under age 18 and those who follow the news extremely closely. The more concerned participants are about COVID-19, the more likely they are to view online banking favorably. As levels of concern rise, financial institutions should be mindful of opportunities to boost awareness of and engagement with online banking to support their customers.

  • In another era, you’d imagine that people would be much more concerned about having physical access to cash in a crisis. However, only 45% indicate that accessing cash right now is important or extremely important, indicating that most people trust the online banking system.

  • However, a majority (67%) are concerned or extremely concerned about their liquid financial investments. Those aged 35-44 seem to be the most concerned. Those in the middle stages of life may be most concerned because they have more invested without the conservative approach that is recommended as they get older and approach retirement. Volatility in the market will continue to weigh heavily upon investors as the pandemic unfolds.

  • Where participants are getting financial advice during the pandemic and reports on the economic impact of the virus varies by age. Younger people rely more heavily on social media while older people rely mostly on TV news. 54% of participants aged 18-24 consume COVID-related news on social media. Similarly, 49% of participants aged 25-34 and 46% in the 35-44 age bracket get their pandemic news via social media. That’s much higher than their older counterparts: 30% of participants aged 45-54 use social media, compared to 15% (ages 55-64), and 19% (65+).
  • 59% of participants are getting advice related to how coronavirus and economic conditions affect the financial market from TV news, 37% from social media and 36% from websites. Financial institutions should continue to meet their target audiences with advertising where they are, which is increasingly seeking out the latest news on COVID-19.

Want more information on Feedback Loop's COVID-19 research? Email Mark Pivinski at mark.pivinski@feedbackloop.com.

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