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Smart Insights: Financial Services

The competitive landscape has broadened significantly for the financial services industry. Trust (or lack of it) is a major issue. Consumers have fast access to online user reviews, financial product comparisons and easy switching of services, making them savvier and more demanding than ever before.

Successful finance industry players deliver differentiated products and services to suit varying customer needs and increase trust by emphasizing transparency and client data security.

Our financial service research experts analyze market trends to deliver consumer insight and help you develop winning finance product and service strategies for your customers.

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Latest insights

Here you can find the latest insights for financial services industry. View all insights

    • 12/11/17
    • Financial Services
    • Technology
    • Global
    • English

    What’s really holding back in-store mobile payments?

    “Cashless made effortless!” “Turn your phone into your wallet!” “It’s not exactly magic, but it feels that way!” The clear message that mobile wallet purveyors are sending to the market is that mobile payments are easy. So why is adoption so low? According to our 2017 FutureBuy® report, only 25% of US shoppers have made an in-store mobile payment in the last six months.

    Reasons for low adoption

    One obvious stumbling block is availability. A recent JP Morgan Chase study suggests that only 36% of retailers currently accept mobile payments. But availability alone cannot account for this disappointing level of adoption. Smartphones are omnipresent in consumers’ lives — and, as our 2017 FutureBuy study shows, US consumers equate smartphones with shopping; 39% say, “My mobile device is quickly becoming my most important shopping tool,” up 11% since 2016. In fact, CNET reported that smartphones accounted for 21% of online sales on Cyber Monday, with US shoppers spending $1.59 billion using their phones — a new record. So where is the comparable mobile in-store spend? Our recent research points to one important barrier for consumers: security. With data breaches at Equifax, Yahoo, and even the IRS making headlines, it is no surprise that security is on the minds of consumers. Research from GfK Consumer Life quantifies this anxiety:
    • 36% of Americans are always concerned about their safety and security (2017)
    • 48% of Americans feel it’s very important to actively manage their online identity and personal information (2016)
    • “Personal information getting into the wrong hands” is the #9 concern among Americans from a list of 21 concerns — up 4 places since 2016 (2017)
    Looking more specifically at payments, cash still plays a big role – and one of its key benefits is anonymity. Among Americans with household incomes of $75,000 a year and greater, 55% say they always or sometimes use cash to protect their identities. Those in the payments industry know that using a mobile wallet is probably the safest way to pay; but US consumers do not perceive things that way. When we asked which non-cash method of payment was most secure, mobile wallets came in last, with just 4% of consumers (compared to 21% saying swiping their card, and 70% saying EMV).

    Opening the door to mobile payment usage

    Comfort with financial services and knowledge of the products and services seems to play a big role in opening the door to mobile payment usage. Again, looking at our FutureBuy study, we see significant differences in attitudes towards mobile payments when we compare Leading Edge Consumers (LECs) to the general public. The LEC group consists of three different types of shoppers; Early adopters, Influentials and Passionate shoppers. 15% of respondents in the 2017 FutureBuy study were identified as LECs – and they are much more apt to see mobile payments as secure: “Making payments with mobile device is more secure than other methods” — 57% LECs vs 23% general public. “I am confident that my mobile device payments are 100% secure” — 58% LECs vs. 23% general public. Not coincidentally, LECs use of mobile payments in-store over the last 6 months dwarfs that of the general public, 50% to 25%. Perhaps, the messaging at the top of this post needs to be revamped. Easy is not doing it. While security is often buried in promotional content to some degree, elevating this message to the first position could be a key to quicker adoption. The message of “the safest way to pay” may be the path forward for mobile payments. For more information, please contact Keith Bossey at keith.bossey@gfk.com. hbspt.cta.load(2405078, 'ca8381bb-3fe8-4564-832b-cd785b143e32', {});
    • 12/05/17
    • Financial Services
    • User Experience (UX)
    • Global
    • English

    6 design principles for a better FinTech user experience

    The pace of technology has transformed our lives in recent years. Finance is no exception. What used to be a question of “cash or credit” has given way to myriad choice. Pay for your groceries with Apple Pay or Google Wallet? Split the check with friends via cash, Venmo, Paypal, or Chase Pay? Invest with Fidelity or through an online platform such as Wealthfront? With so many options, users, especially those in the coveted 18-35 demographic demand a great experience in exchange for their loyalty. But older users should not be ignored – they have come to expect a level of professionalism and personalization from their offline bankers and financial service providers. This should carry through online. As a user experience researcher I’ve seen how providing an enjoyable, seamless experience based on a solid customer understanding leads to successful products in this marketplace. Here are some principles financial companies should keep in mind as they look to stay ahead among the ever evolving outlets for people to spend, save and exchange money.

    Technology should enable solutions that make people’s lives easier

    With a straightforward interface and easy to understand investment philosophy, Betterment has transformed the process of setting and investing in long terms goals from what can often feel overwhelming, murky, or confusing to a relatively transparent and achievable experience. How? By creating an online investment platform that combines a straightforward interface with an easy to understand investment philosophy. They’ve also used technology to enhance things internally, by weaving it into their back-end process. Betterment uses artificial intelligence to match customers’ paper checks with their accounts. By automating a formerly tedious task, they have freed their employees to do more interesting and challenging work. Think of technology as a tool to solve a problem (e.g., make investing easier), not the answer itself.

    Context is key

    Where will your app be used? Are users excited about saving for a big purchase or nervous about paying their bills? What other apps is it competing with on their phone? Across studies, users have told us that limited memory makes their phone’s home screen valuable real estate. A mobile payment app might check all of the usability boxes in testing, but if it doesn’t integrate well with your user’s favorite shopping apps or sites, it won’t add value, and will likely be deleted.

    Understand mental models

    Understanding current conventions and learning about what else your customers use and like enables you to incorporate common design patterns that make it easy for a first time user to have a seamless experience. Most people have at least one, if not multiple banking and payment apps. These inform expectations and habits for new apps which means that if you’re trying out a cool new design pattern, you’ll need to soften the learning curve with pointers on how it works. hbspt.cta.load(2405078, 'e8c45c3f-4ef7-4c3c-aff6-b1040cd0c639', {});

    Enable customers to control the interaction

    In conducting financial research, we often hear users say that they wouldn’t sign up for a financial product via mobile phone. Their perception is that financial tasks require the security and larger screen of a computer. Address this by enabling customers to begin a process on their mobile phones, when and where it is convenient, and then save progress for later completion on a larger screen. This gives users control and adds a sense of security and assurance.

    Make it intuitive

    Finance can be a difficult subject – the best sites use straightforward language to clearly explain new processes or topics without dumbing it down. Embed help links for uncommon terms make sure terms and conditions are easy to access and understand. Enable users to intuitively understand what they are being asked to do and to quickly find needed information with a clean, uncluttered design.

    But include some friction

    Somewhat unique to FinTech is the need for friction. For example, Betterment doesn’t make it especially easy to check your portfolio every day (even though some people want to) because it is better for financial health to only check periodically with a focus on the end goal. To this end, they have simple visual interface focused on progress towards a goal. We’ve watched participants spend 30 minutes struggling to link their bank account to their credit card and set up a unique password, then tell us they wouldn’t change a thing. They loved how secure the somewhat complicated process felt. Users need to trust that their information and money are in secure hands.

    User focus throughout the development process

    Successful FinTech gives users a better way to do something that might formerly have been difficult, tedious, or met with a sense of dread. It provides sense of security and control within the app that translates to feeling in control of their finances. To stand out and build loyalty in an increasingly crowded market, companies should incorporate a user focus throughout the development process. By talking to users to understand what they want and need, building products that enable customers to achieve their goals, and finally, talking to them again, watching them play with your app or experience the service and listening to their feedback, you’ll be on your way to delivering a product that wins hearts, minds, and importantly, repeat users. Amanda Weller is a Senior Lead of User Experience at GfK. To share your thoughts, email Amanda.weller@gfk.com or leave a comment below. hbspt.cta.load(2405078, 'e8c45c3f-4ef7-4c3c-aff6-b1040cd0c639', {});
    • 10/26/17
    • Press
    • Financial Services
    • Trends and Forecasting
    • Global
    • English

    Consumer climate falls slightly in Germany

    GfK forecasts a slight decrease in consumer climate for November of 0.1 points in comparison to the previous month to 10.7 points.
    • 10/18/17
    • Financial Services
    • Public Services
    • Global
    • English

    EU consumer confidence at highest level in over nine years

    Consumer sentiment within the EU 28 has continued its upward trend in the third quarter of this year, finishing on 20.9 points. 
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