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TMCNet:  Sixty one percent of US banking customers favor portable banking account numbers

[February 28, 2013]

Sixty one percent of US banking customers favor portable banking account numbers

IRVING, Texas, Feb. 28, 2013 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Portable account numbers, designed to make switching between banking providers easier, would be welcomed by customers across the world, according to an online YouGov study conducted by BT.



The research, which surveyed more than 6,500 people across six countries worldwide, found that the majority of consumers in Spain (76 percent), Hong Kong (70 percent), France (64 percent), Germany (61 percent) and the UK (62 percent) all agree that a portable identity number -- allowing them to switch banks without changing account details -- would be useful.

Despite this, there are mixed feelings about the prospect of banks sharing their IT infrastructure and having access to customers' personal information, which reflects a concern about the security and protection of personal data. In fact, many respondents felt that banks sharing infrastructure would be a bad idea (38 percent), whilst a significant number were undecided (28 percent), even though it would have the potential to improve competition and allow them to switch banks more easily.

Of those countries surveyed, only in Hong Kong (75 percent) and Spain (54 percent) did a majority of respondents think that a shared IT infrastructure for banks was a good idea.

Meanwhile, the majority of respondents across all markets did not consider engaging in dialogue or sharing information with their banks over social media channels as a priority, despite the explosion of sites like Twitter and Facebook across the globe. On the contrary, when asked which three tools they would most like their bank to provide, customers indicated that they would like to see more sophisticated online tools such as peer review sections (32 percent), webchat facilities (23 percent) and 'compare-my-bank' type services (29 percent) to give them better information and help them make informed decisions.

Tom Regent, president, global banking and financial markets, BT Global Services said: "There is clearly an appetite for technology and services which help increase transparency and competition, such as number portability and richer online comparison tools. But there is also a significant level of apprehension around the creation of a shared banking infrastructure. With any new solution that the industry moves forward with, they will need to be mindful that consumers need reassurance around security and protection of their data. Increasingly, we are working with our bank customers to develop security strategies, helping them to put effective risk and compliance management in place, test for malicious system attacks, and support identity and access management." When asked about which three factors would be the most appealing when considering moving banks, the results were fairly consistent across all countries. Good online banking facilities (39 percent), the presence of a local branch (45 percent) and the ability to access banking services 24/7 (29 percent) were ranked highest.

Respondents in Spain placed more emphasis than others on having trust in a bank's brand (37 percent) and reputation for security (36 percent) - ranking that higher than factors such as 24/7 availability of banking services (22 percent).

Some interesting geographical differences also emerged in the perceptions of banking technology, with German consumers the least likely to choose mobile banking in their top three most trusted banking technologies, followed closely by the UK. Only five percent of Germans and 10 percent of Brits said that mobile banking is one of their three most trusted technologies, although the results were low across all countries. Across the board, Internet banking, in-branch self-service and ATMs were viewed as the three most trustworthy technologies.

Tom Regent continued: "Banks are increasingly focused on providing services via smart phones and tablet devices in order to keep pace with digital changes and innovation. While this is an important strategy, banks must be careful not to lose sight of the need for human contact in either the branch or via a local call center agent. Our research shows that these continue to be customers' most trusted and preferred channels." Customers are even more cautious about the use of alternative payments, such as Twollars, Bitcoins, Facebook Credits and virtual wallets. The percentage of respondents who had tried alternative payments was less than 10 percent across most of the countries polled. However, respondents from Hong Kong and Spain were the most likely to try alternative payment methods in the next 18 months (43 percent and 36 percent respectively). Respondents from the USA and Germany were least likely to say they would try alternative payment systems in the next 18 months (12 percent and nine percent).

Notes to editors: Smart Service is the latest in a series of research projects commissioned by BT to track consumer attitudes towards customer services and technology in retail banking.

The Smart Service research follows an earlier study by BT titled Youbiquity Finance, which found that found that despite the growing use of telephone, mobile and internet banking in recent years, almost three quarters (73 percent) of customers in the UK see their local branch as the most vital link with their bank in the future - second only to cash machines.

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 6,647 adults in France (1010), Germany (1053), Hong Kong (518), Spain (1006), the USA (1000) and the UK (2060). Fieldwork was undertaken between 11-27 December 2012. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all adults (aged 18+) in each market.

Further details on the research can be found at: http://www.globalservices.bt.com/static/assets/pdf/financial_services/smart_service_research.pdf For further information All news releases can be accessed at our web sites: http://www.globalservices.bt.com/us/en/news and http://www.btplc.com/news About BT BT is one of the world's leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in more than 170 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband and internet products and services and converged fixed/mobile products and services. BT consists principally of four lines of business: BT Global Services, BT Retail, BT Wholesale and Openreach.

In the year ended 31 March 2012, BT Group's revenue was £18,897m with profit before taxation of £2,445m.

British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York.

For more information, visit www.btplc.com SOURCE BT http://rt.prnewswire.com/rt.gif NewsItemId=NY68383&Transmission_Id=201302280835PR_NEWS_USPR_____NY68383&DateId=20130228

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