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Confidence using online banking grows during lockdown as consumers in the North West embrace digital

The COVID-19 lockdown is helping to accelerate take-up of digital banking services amongst North West consumers, with many feeling more confident about using online and mobile channels, new research shows.

The research1 reveals that over three in 10 people (31%) in the North West have downloaded a mobile banking app since lockdown began. In addition, just over four in 10 (44%) digital banking users have been using it more often during lockdown than they did before it began.

Avoiding using a branch during lockdown is the most common reason for using digital banking more frequently (39%). However, the need to check transactions as a result of increased online shopping (33%), as well as having more time to be able to look at their bank account (33%), are also key reasons driving North West consumers towards the ease and convenience of digital banking.

Of the respondents, over one in three (37%) who have used digital banking say they are now more confident using it since lockdown began.

This increased confidence is reflected in how people plan to use digital banking going forward. In fact, some 79% of users in the North West said they planned to carry on using digital banking as they have done during lockdown or  even more frequently.

The research shows that 42% plan to either use branches/face to face banking less post-lockdown than they did pre-lockdown, or not to use them at all. 

Paul Titterton, Head of Personal Distribution for Virgin Money said: “Many people have embraced digital banking as a way to safely and easily manage their money during lockdown. Having now got familiar with it and seen the benefits, many intend to carry on using it in the future. We have seen this first hand with our own customers, with our digital adoption rate for current account customers in April showing the largest monthly increase we have ever seen and average daily mobile app logins increasing by almost 10%.

“Digital services and remote access have become necessities for many during the pandemic, significantly accelerating the pace of digital adoption. More than ever, customers are realising the benefits online and mobile channels offer – in terms of quick and easy access to finances and useful money management tools.

“We also know there are still times when a conversation really matters which is why we believe strongly in a full-service offering, so customers can deal with us in a way that suits them.“

In the North West, checking balances and transactions is the most common use for online and mobile banking (74%), followed by paying bills (58%) and transferring money, either to friends and family (52%) or their own accounts (49%). More than half (52%) who have used digital banking, are using it for things now that they didn’t use before lockdown. Almost a quarter (24%) now use online banking to check their balance and transactions which they hadn’t done before lockdown.

Despite the financial impact on many people as a result of COVID-19, the research shows that applying for loans through digital banking is not popular, with just five per cent of those who currently use or have ever used digital banking using online banking or their banking app for this.

Virgin Money recognises that while digital channels promote access to banking overall, some people do need additional support using it and access to cash has become more difficult for some people as a result of lockdown. As a result, it has taken steps to ensure support is in place for those customers who need it most.

Paul added: “We have been proactively contacting self-isolating and vulnerable customers to help them use digital banking, as well as offering other services to help them through this difficult period. This includes the option to have cash delivered to them through our travel money service, which now offers sterling, and the Post Office Pay Out Now service as another way to access cash if they are unable to use our normal channels.” 

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