Banking: Customers prefer a machine to a human teller

Posted Jul 1, 2019 by Tim Sandle
New data shows that more dramatic change is to be expected in banking and financial services. Marqeta, a card issuing platform, has found that customers would rather interact with a machine than with a human teller.
A banking customer uses an ATM at a Wells Fargo Bank branch in Oakland  California.
A banking customer uses an ATM at a Wells Fargo Bank branch in Oakland, California.
Justin Sullivan, Getty/AFP/File
The data relates to customers of financial services in the U.S. The poll found that 31 percent of U.S. survey participants said easy-to-access ATMs (automated teller machines) and no ATM fees are the most important benefits their banks provide. Only 15 percent indicated that an in-person presence was the most important bank benefit.
Many areas of the financial services industry have been working to deliver a better experience on digital channels, as part of the digital transformation of financial services, as drawn out by PwC’s Digital Banking Consumer Survey, such as the preference of millennials to bank by phone. The new Marqeta survey builds on these trends.
Despite these findings, it stands that almost half (49 percent) of U.S. citizens still regularly visit their physical branches and have visited a branch within the last month. This figure, however, hides some generational differences, which are brought out through further questioning. The 50-65 age group was nearly twice as likely (20 percent) as the 18-34 group (11 percent) to say an in-person presence was the most important benefit their bank provides. This means that machine technology, be that chatbots or other online digital tools, are preferred by millennials and Generation Z.
Given these trends, it is perhaps unsurprising that the use of mobile apps is growing. In relation to accessing financial services by portable devices, the poll found that close to a fifth (21 percent) of U.S. survey participants (as well as 27 percent in a parallel survey run for U.K. consumers) initiated that an easy-to-use mobile application is the most important benefit a bank can deliver.
Of the different demographic groups, accessing financial services via mobile app is especially attractive to millennials. U.S. survey participants falling within the 18 to 34 age group were found to be almost twice as likely (27 percent) as those in the 50 to 65 age group (14 percent) to favor an easy-to-use mobile app.
There is also a growing interest in terms of accessing different financial services. The research found that close to three-fourths (74 percent) of U.S. consumers suggested they have bought or received a prepaid card. Furthermore, almost half (at 47 percent) indicated they have been reimbursed with a physical or virtual card. Following the earlier trends, millennials are far more likely to have used a card for reimbursement compared with the older generation; only one third (33 percent) of the 50 to 65 age group has used a virtual or physical card to get reimbursed.