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Accelerating digital transformation in banking

Findings from the global consumer survey on digital banking

Val Srinivas
Angus Ross

Consumers worldwide anticipate their banks to act and interact more like leading technology brands. Our most recent global consumer survey on digital banking reveals the disparities - and what banks can do to fulfil heightened expectations.

Digital engagement is key to optimising the consumer experience

THE banking industry is in a digital arms race. In 2018, banks globally plan to invest £7.3 billion to enhance their digital banking capabilities in the front office alone.1 For many retail banks, online and mobile channels have become as important—if not more important—than branches and cashpoints.

Banks across the globe are already beginning to realise the potential benefits of investing in digital technologies for customer acquisition and satisfaction. For instance, Bank of America currently receives more deposits through its mobile channel than it does through its branches.2 The bank's CEO Brian Moynihan recently commented that investing in digital banking capabilities has helped to improve customer satisfaction.3

However, satisfaction is relative. As leading technology brands such as Apple, Amazon or Google have become the benchmark for digital engagement, many consumers now have a stronger emotional connexion with these brands than they do with their primary banks, as we will explore in the following sections of this report. If banks want to keep up, they must engine driver the digital experience they offer to foster these emotional connexions, which could ultimately lead to more loyal customers and more profitable outcomes.

The Deloitte Center for Financial Services surveyed 17,100 banking consumers across 17 countries in May 2018 to measure the current state of banks' digital engagement. We asked respondents how often they use different channels and services, with a particular focus on digital transactions. We also captured consumers' expectations and perceptions of digital banking capabilities and the likelihood of using additional digital banking services in the future. (See the interactive for more information and a breakdown of results by country.)

The survey results support Deloitte's belief that restructuring organisations around different stages of customer interaction will be the next frontier for digital banking. Specifically, this will require integrating digital services across five stages - adoption, consideration, application, onboarding and servicing - to drive holistic engagement. We believe the results clearly show that banks need to expand their focus beyond increasing and enhancing digital service offerings to transform themselves into truly effective digital organisations.

This study is the latest of a suite of thought leadership efforts by Deloitte that address digital banking, a topic of the utmost importance to the industry's future (see sidebar, “Digital banking research from Deloitte”).

Of course, banking systems and the behaviours of consumers vary across markets in different geographies. As such, we highlight country differences along the way to offer a perspective of consumers' relationship with their banking institutions in individual countries. A subsequent report and interactive will dive deeper into these geographic differences and their reasons.

About the study and methodology

The Deloitte US Centre for Financial Services conducted a global digital survey in May 2018, questioning 17,100 respondents in 17 countries. We set minimum quotas for age and gender for each of the 17 countries. The survey focussed on consumers' digital engagement, including channel preferences for various banking activities and buying new products, their emotional connexion to their banks, and other attitudes and perceptions about their primary banks.

To determine whether there were different segments with characteristics within our global sample, we performed cluster analyses of channel usage data for 13,912 eligible respondents.4 We found that one algorithm in particular yielded the most statistically significant and meaningful results. The input data for the cluster analysis was:

  1. How frequently the respondents use bank channels: bank branch, cash machine, contact centre, online banking service and mobile banking app.
  2. Which channels they prefer to access a range of services: transactional (withdraw money, pay bills), informational (inquire bank balance, inquire about a bank product, update account details), problem resolution (dispute a transaction, report lost or stolen debit/credit card) and product application (apply for a loan).

The results revealed clear differences regarding digital attitudes and behaviours among consumers. Across the globe, consumers fell into one of three distinct segments: traditionalists, online embracers, or digital adventurers. Please read more about the segment characteristics in “The digital-emotional connexion” section later in the report.

The survey data reported are unweighted and we caution that the interpretations may be limited to the samples we included in the study.

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Satisfaction with banking is relative

The Deloitte Center for Financial Services' global survey of banking consumers confirmed a finding that we have observed in other Deloitte studies: Consumers' overall satisfaction with their primary banks is generally high.5 Nearly two-thirds of consumers in our global sample are either completely satisfied or very satisfied with their primary bank. Satisfaction varies country by country, however (figure 1).

Within the Asia Pacific region, for example, consumers in India and Indonesia are more satisfied with their banks than are those in Singapore, Australia, or Japan. In Europe, consumers in Norway and the Netherlands are more satisfied with their banks than are those in Germany, France, or Spain. Comparing satisfaction levels across the Atlantic, consumers in the United States and Canada are generally more satisfied with their banks than their European counterparts are.

These patterns are mirrored when determining whether consumers would advocate for their banks. Nearly two-thirds of consumers in our survey said they would recommend their primary bank to friends and family (figure 1). A higher proportion of consumers in India and Indonesia are likely to recommend their banks than are those in Japan, Singapore, or the United States.

But these questions measure emotional engagement with broad strokes; they do not paint a full picture of customer satisfaction. As banks embrace varied strategies to differentiate themselves, they need to pay close attention to how they make their customers feel so they can build sticky relationships.6 According to a Harvard Business Review article, emotionally connected consumers are 35 per cent more valuable than highly satisfied consumers.7 In our study, the top 25 per cent of respondents who ranked their bank the highest using six positive descriptors also have a higher number of products with their primary bank.

Importantly, though, our survey also showed that banks lag behind other brands in building these emotional connexions. Best-in-class digital service providers, including Apple, Google, Amazon, Samsung and Microsoft, topped the list. Figure 2 shows the percentages of how consumers ranked their banks on these six descriptors compared to these top brands. In short, these results show that consumers feel these favourite brands outperform their banks in providing quality, convenience and value via an exceptional digitally driven consumer experience.

The rate of digital adoption is encouraging, though transactional in nature

Our survey also indicates that consumers are ready for a higher level of digital engagement from their banks. Many consumers already interact with digital banking channels quite frequently, which is a highly positive development. Although branches and cash machines are still used by slightly more banking customers, online and mobile channels are not far behind. Eighty-six per cent of consumers use branches or cash machines to access their primary bank; 84 per cent use online banking; and 72 per cent use mobile apps to access their primary bank.

But more tellingly, digital channels are used more frequently than branches and cash machines (figure 3) across all generations and in all countries. This clearly presents an opportunity for banks; if they can improve their digital offerings, they could increase customer engagement.

Nevertheless, a country-by-country analysis reveals some intriguing exceptions. Japan is particularly striking, with only 7 per cent using online banking and 6 per cent using mobile banking more than five times a month. This result is not entirely unexpected, however: a 2016 Meiji Yasuda study revealed that 70 per cent of internet users in Japan used cash to pay at a physical shop.8 China and Singapore, both renowned for digitally savvy populations,9 also autumn into this category, but to a lesser extent.

Among the other countries surveyed, however, the general trend is that many more banking interactions are made online and via mobile devices than through cash machines and branches. This is a good start. The first step towards improved brand recognition is to get in front of the customer as often as possible.

While the frequency of digital channel usage is a positive sign, there is an important distinction to be made here between quantity and quality of interactions. Our survey showed that digital channels are mostly limited to informational and transactional services that have been available through online banking for at least 15 years, such as transferring money, updating account details and current account balances.

Many consumers still prefer traditional channels over digital channels for complex or advisory services, however. Of the respondents who filed a complaint with their bank, 42 per cent used contact centres, 26 per cent used branches and only 30 per cent used digital channels (online or mobile). The trend is also true for applying for new products, particularly loans that require multiple verification and documentation steps (figure 4). Interestingly, consumers were split in their preference to use online and mobile channels versus branches when applying for payment cards (debit and credit cards) and basic transactional products (payment and savings accounts).

And although few banks allow their customers to apply for a consumer unsecured term loan or small business loan through digital means, nonbank fintechs have been allowing this for almost a decade and some banks have followed suit.10 Yet, for the most part, retail banks still require human intermediaries and cumbersome nondigital documents to process loan applications.11

Further, banks’ “pull” approach versus a “push” approach to digital service could be standing in the way of creating emotionally engaging digital interactions. Today’s consumers still come to the bank’s platform to meet their needs—be it monitoring account details or understanding their spending patterns—and banks tend to react to their needs. Meanwhile, fintechs have shown a better way to digitally engage consumers through a “push” strategy that includes sending them intelligent, tailored insights based on their spending behaviour or notifying them about discounts or loyalty offers at nearby retailers.12 Although banks have made the important step of making the login process easier by having mobile devices remember information in a secure manner, they can invoke more push strategies, such as providing customers with alerts regarding unusual movement in their accounts.13

The digital-emotional connexion

To dig deeper into digital engagement and understand how it varied across customer segments, we ran a cluster analysis (see “About the study and methodology” section). The analysis of nearly 14,000 global respondents14 confirmed a positive relationship between digital usage and emotional engagement in three distinct consumer segments. We’ve named these groups traditionalists, online embracers and digital adventurers.

  • Traditionalists comprised 28 per cent of the sample. They are light digital users who do most of their banking in branches and through cash machines. Nearly one-half of these respondents who cheque their bank balances used cash machines; a fifth used branches. Of the traditionalists who transferred money from one account to another, one-third used cash machines while another one-third used branches.

Nearly one-quarter of traditionalists have never used online banking to access their primary bank. Their reluctance to use mobile apps is even higher—44 per cent have never used mobile apps to access their primary bank. Even among users of online and mobile banking in this segment, only one-tenth have used these channels 10 or more times in a month. Traditionalists also hold fewer products, such as debit and credit cards, than the other segments.

  • Online embracerscomprise the largest segment, at 43 per cent. They are more digitally engaged with their banks than are traditionalists, but prefer online over the mobile app channel for types of transactions that banks have spent years perfecting online, such as balance and transaction inquiries, transferring funds and paying bills. They have higher product holdings than traditionalists and transact with their banks more frequently, but not all the time; about 20 per cent of online embracers accessed their bank online more than 10 times a month and 25 per cent accessed their mobile apps more than 10 times per month.
  • Digital adventurers comprised 28 per cent of the sample; millennials comprised the highest share of adventurers compared to the other segments. Like online embracers, this group exclusively uses mobile and online channels to inquire about their account, transfer funds and pay bills; however, many more adventurers are comfortable and prefer, to perform them on their mobile devices. As an example, 48 per cent of digital adventurers transfer money person-to-person (P2P) online and 44 per cent do so on mobile apps, while 52 per cent of online embracers make P2P transfers online and 37 per cent prefer to do so on mobile apps.

Digital adventurers also own many products, but they transact much more frequently than online embracers do. Over half of users of online and mobile banking in this segment have accessed these channels 10 or more times a month. A significant proportion of digital adventurers prefer to use online and mobile channels combined more than visiting a branch to apply for simple products such as debit cards and current accounts. And although just under 32 per cent and 11 per cent would prefer to apply for a personal loan online and on their mobile app, respectively, this compares to 25 per cent and 7 per cent for online embracers and only 17 per cent and 6 per cent for traditionalists.

Most tellingly, digital adventurers demonstrate the highest levels of satisfaction and advocacy for (are most likely to recommend) their primary banks. And they also generally express a deeper emotional engagement with their primary banks compared to online embracers and traditionalists (figure 5), at least in absolute terms.

When looking at digital adventurers’ emotional engagement with their banks compared to their favourite brands, an interesting twist emerges. Although digital adventurers are the most emotionally engaged banking consumers in absolute terms, the gap between engagement with their favourite brands and primary bank is higher for four of the six parameters (figure 6). Banks have some road to travel, if their most satisfied, seemingly more engaged consumers are not as “wowed” by banking services as they are with their favourite brands.15 This is where we ask ourselves, “Are banking consumer relationships truly sticky? If these favourite brands become financial services providers, then what?”

Characteristics of segments are not consistent across countries

We also analysed how the segments we described above are distributed across the 17 countries included in our study (figure 7).

Unsurprisingly, when looking at clustering by country, 75 per cent of respondents in Japan, a digital banking laggard, are traditionalists. Next in queue are France, the United States and Indonesia, with 41 per cent, 38 per cent and 35 per cent of their samples, respectively, falling into the traditionalist category. The decades-old and resilient branch infrastructure could potentially explain high composition of traditionalists in developed economies. However, the case of a developing country like Indonesia featuring a higher composition of traditionalists compared to the global average merits additional analysis.

The Netherlands boasted the highest composition of online embracers (63 per cent), followed by China (58 per cent), Switzerland (56 per cent), Singapore (53 per cent) and Norway (53 per cent). High internet connectivity in most of these countries potentially explains their reliance on digital. For instance, the Netherlands ranked among the top four countries in the 2017 Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), which measures digital performance and competitiveness in Europe.16

Of the 17 countries studied, Brazil has the highest representation of digital adventurers compared to the global average. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom and India, comprising 46 per cent and 42 per cent of digital adventurers in their samples, respectively, mirror the global story more closely with higher satisfaction and high digital use. We will explore the country differences and drivers of respondents’ digital behaviour in subsequent publications and an interactive feature.

More real in digital and digital in real

Digital channels can provide an effective gateway to emotionally connect an organisation to its consumers. Technology companies that are consumers’ favourite brands not only have best-in-class digital capabilities; they also do a superior job integrating digital and physical environments and integrating both strategically to foster an emotional connexion.17 Amazon’s digital prowess allows customers to discover, research and buy products in minutes, while enabling its physical supply chain to deliver the goods most efficiently. Merging the physical with the virtual/digital is key to superior customer experience: putting the “real in digital and digital in real.”

According to our survey, consumers are more likely to increase use of digital channels (both online and mobile) if banks increase security, provide more real-time problem resolution and allow for more regular banking transactions to be handled digitally (figure 8). On the other side, adding digital self-service screens at brick-and-mortar locations, or being able to connect with a bank representative virtually will increase consumers’ likelihood to use branches (figure 9). Putting the real in digital and the digital in real is clearly a route that banks must take in their digital transformation efforts. Following are some suggestions:

Strengthen security measures for all consumers. With all three segments, stronger digital security will likely increase the likelihood that customers will use digital channels in the future. Security concerns are especially acute for traditionalists; in fact, this is why some traditionalists have never used online or mobile banking to access their primary banks.

Strengthening security using tools such as biometrics is paramount. These are already being widely used. For example, ANZ bank customers can make payments of more than US$1,000 via mobile app using Voice ID technology and no additional authentication.18 Banks should advertise such security features more prominently and differentiate messaging for different segments.

Highlight the convenience of digital with traditionalists. A big reason many traditionalists do not use digital channels is that they simply do not see their merit. Therefore, raising awareness around the convenience of banking on-the-go (mobile) or banking from anywhere (online) is pivotal. Consider boomers and seniors who may be hesitant to use digital channels. In 2016, Capital One bank in the United States partnered with Older Adults Technology Services (OATS), a nonprofit and Grovo, a digital learning platform, to develop a training programme, “Ready, Set and Bank.”19 The programme consists of short online videos and live classes to educate seniors on the basics of online banking, such as setting account alerts.

As banks add more digital features in branches (digital in real), branch professionals should step up a campaign to demonstrate to these consumers how easy it is to use a digital screen or a tablet for simple transactions, including paying bills, transferring money, or even applying for a debit card. (More than 50 per cent of traditionalists reported not owning one!) Once traditionalists become more comfortable with using branch-based digital tools, representatives should then familiarise them with mobile banking. Helping them download the bank’s mobile app should be easy to do, considering 92 per cent of traditionalists already own a smartphone.

Expand mobile apps’ capabilities to simplify its user interface to engage online embracers. Last year, we predicted thatmobile devices would replace branches as the central channel around which other channels revolve.20 Now, online embracers are much more comfortable with online banking than they are using mobile banking apps. Banks should seek to encourage this segment’s engagement on mobile apps.

Among other reasons, a factor limiting embracers’ mobile banking usage could be the app’s limited functionalities compared to online banking portals. To increase online embracers’ willingness to use mobile banking, banks should focus on making mobile apps more intuitive and more comprehensive. Here, a good example is the iPhone®. For more than a decade, each iPhone® iteration has achieved massive market share by providing an intuitive and elegant user experience, coupled with comprehensive functionalities.21 In addition, while some banks may fear cannibalisation, cross-promoting mobile apps on online portals could help create a richer, more versatile consumer experience.

Transform mobile as an experiential channel for digital adventurers. Digital adventurers are already avid users of banks’ digital channels. They expect more from their primary banks, which can be seen in the gap in emotional connexion between their favourite brands and primary bank. With this segment, banks should use mobile as a differentiator to build sticky experiences. Though digital adventurers choose mobile apps as much as online websites for bank interactions, they primarily use mobile for transactional services, such as paying bills or checking balances and basic product applications.

Here, banks could position chatbots as the go-to help tool or letting consumers directly connect to a bank representative in the mobile app. These are good starting points, as this segment expects more real-time problem resolution in digital banking channels. In fact, enthusiasm among adventurers could be dampened by apps that lack customer service avenues.22

Consider the launch of digital-only banks. JPMorgan Chase rolled out a mobile-only bank, Finn, which targets millennials.23 Marketed as an independent brand, Finn lets consumers make deposits, transfer payments using the Zelle payment system and activate a Finn debit card using the app. It provides multiple features to help consumers manage their money in a simple and convenient way. For example, its “Pocket Your Pennies” feature transfers any change left from consumers’ current account purchases to their savings accounts.24 Further, the rule-based “Autosave” feature gives a new dimension to banks’ traditional recurring deposit service. A consumer hoping to fund a weekend trip with friends can create a rule to save US$5 for every US$30 spent until the savings reach US$1,000.

Moreover, banks can encourage digital adventurers to step up their use of digital channels by simply providing smarter account opening features. Options such as prepopulating forms on websites and apps, making authentication easier and allowing e-signatures or fingerprint scanning will likely simplify and enrich consumers’ product buying experiences.

Lastly, break the channel silos. Branch, cash machines, online, mobile and call centres all need to be connected, along with third-party digital assistants such as Google Home and Amazon Alexa. Consumers’ fascination for omnichannel experiences is real. Seventy per cent of consumers in our study consider a consistent experience across channels to be extremely important or very important in selecting their primary bank. Therefore, banks must have a seamless flow of data across all channels. Having a 360-degree view of consumer interactions across channels, products and systems will pay off by building stickier emotional engagement.

The case for accelerating digital transformation

Of course, these are broad recommendations and as such, they will not uniformly fit the different consumer banking systems, experiences and cultures of every country.

However, despite these differences and nuances across geographies, we noticed a common, key theme: There needs to be an evolution in how consumers interact with their banks and customers are expecting that progression to begin now. Picture these scenarios: Consumers hanging out at or working from café-resembling bank branches, interacting with their bank’s mobile apps as integrally and joyfully as they do with social media apps, or reporting lost/stolen card using the bank’s app instead of dialling the call centre. These are not mere possibilities of distant future; they are the kinds of experiences many customers already expect—and have come to know—from the brands they most trust.

As the progression unfolds, human interactions will likely remain important, especially for milestone decisions in consumers’ financial journeys. However, digital will be at the heart of personalising consumers’ day-to-day interactions to enhance their emotional connexion to bank brands. And in many countries, mobile will likely become the epicentre of banks’ digital transformation strategies.

Further, branches, cash machines, online banking portals and mobile apps will likely take different avatars in the coming years, infusing more real life in digital and more digital in real life. And as this happens, perhaps some channels could become more prominent than others. For instance, if mobile apps evolve as the go-to help tool for consumers, this could minimise the need for call centres.

Perhaps the key takeaway we gleaned from the survey is that customer satisfaction is relative. In the end, to capture the hearts, minds and wallets of customers, banks will need to accelerate their digital transformation and reconfigure each channel to serve every need customers have. Only this level of transformation is likely to strengthen banks’ emotional ties with consumers and earn them a top spot in the list of consumers’ favourite brands.

Digital banking research from Deloitte

Deloitte has produced thought leadership around multiple aspects of digital banking on a global basis. The following are the firm’s thought leadership initiatives in 2018:

  • A digital banking leadership study. Deloitte developed a digital performance framework that measured 20 attributes of digital leadership. To do this, the study assessed leading practises and banks’ ability to harness digital to create value across the organisation. For further information, contact Angus Ross (
  • EMEA digital banking maturity study. By querying both banks and consumers and conducting mystery shopping, Deloitte benchmarked the digital banking capabilities and functionality of banks in the EMEA region. The study focussed on which services and functions are offered to customers across the spectrum of opening a new account, maintaining it and closing it.
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Deloitte Center for Financial Services

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  1. Daniel Mayo, 'Banking ICT spending predictor,' Ovum, 2 February 2018.

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  2. Taylor Nicole Rogers, “Bank of America finally sees mobile deposits surpass in-person transactions,” The Street, 16 July 2018.

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  3. Ibid.

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  4. The sample was cleaned to take rogue responses out of consideration. For our cluster analysis, we studied 13,912 respondents (with cleaned data) for their channel usage behaviour and how it relates to emotional engagement.

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  5. Val Srinivas, Steve Fromhart, and Urval Goradia, First impressions count: Improving the account opening process for millennials and digital banking customers, Deloitte University Press, 6 September 2017.

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  6. Rob Danna, “How emotional connexions build champions for your brand,” Forbes, 22 December 2017.

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  7. Scott Magids, Alan Zorfas, and Daniel Leemon, “The new science of consumer emotions,” Harvard Business Review, 1 November 2015.

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  8. eMarketer, 'Digital payments struggle to catch on with consumers in Japan,' 14 October 2016.

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  9. Li Hong, “ICT lifts China to become global trendsetter,” Global Times, 12 April 2018; Melissa Cheok, “For all its tech savvy, Singapore still prefers cash over digital payments,” Bloomberg, 5 September 2017.

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  10. Peter Renton, “The new junction of banks and marketplace lending,” Lend Academy, 21 December 2016.

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  11. Srinivas, Fromhart, and Goradia, First impressions count.

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  12. Chris Skinner, “Big banks are not fleeing the fintech heat (yet),” The Finanser, accessed 31 July 2018.

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  13. Shirra Frost, “Engage customers with financial alerts,” ABA Bank Marketing, 8 March 2017.

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  14. For our cluster analysis, we included data for 13,912 respondents on channel usage behaviour.

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  15. A small portion of respondents indicated that their favourite brand is a bank.

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  16. European Commission, “The Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI),” accessed on 19 September 2018.

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  17. Greg Simpson, “The ambient customer experience: Physical, digital, virtual and everything in between,”, 22 November 2016.

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  18. Sara Baker, 'Why voice biometrics will end the password era,' Security Brief, 9 July 2018.

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  19. Grace Noto, “Capital One joins effort to educate seniors about online banking,” Bank Innovation, 5 August 2016.

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  20. Val Srinivas, 2018 Banking Outlook, Deloitte Center for Financial Services, 2017.

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  21. Paul Brown and Diane On’Neill, “Apple iPhone: 10 years of UX innovation,” Strategy Analytics, 11 December 2017.

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  22. Lisa Joyce, “What consumers love (and hate) about mobile banking apps,” The Financial Brand, 24 April 2018.

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  23. Adam Shell, “Chase all-mobile bank, Finn, rolled out nationwide in search of millennials,” USA Today, 28 June 2018.

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  24. Frank Chaparro, “JPMorgan Chase launched an online bank for millennials called Finn, and I prefer it to the real thing,” Business Insider, 8 July 2018.

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Richa Wadhwani

Assistant manager, banking and capital markets

Deloitte Center for Financial Services

Deloitte Support Services India Pvt. Ltd.

Aarushi Jain

Senior analyst, banking and capital markets

Deloitte Center for Financial Services

Deloitte Support Services India Pvt. Ltd.

The authors would like to extend special thanks to Anish Kumar and Satish Nelanuthula of Deloitte Support Services India Pvt. Ltd. for their contributions towards the advanced survey analysis in this research project.

The Centre wishes to thank the following Deloitte professionals for their support and contribution to the report: Michelle Chodosh, marketing senior manager, Deloitte Center for Financial Services, Deloitte Services LP; Patricia Danielecki, senior manager, chief of staff, Deloitte Center for Financial Services, Deloitte Services LP; Erin Loucks, manager, Deloitte Center for Financial Services, Deloitte Services LP; Limor Mazlin, senior consultant, Deloitte Consulting LLP; Stephanie Posner, senior manager, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited; Ayrton Rodriguez, consultant, Deloitte Consulting LLP; and Julius Tapper, senior consultant, Deloitte Consulting LLP.

Cover image: Heidi Schmidt

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