Digital banking growth in the UK, but much remains to be done

Some interesting statistics come to hand courtesy of The British Bankers Association (BBA). The BBA has released the first of a series of reports highlighting the dramatic changes taking place in the way we bank, entitled reasonably enough: 'The Way We Bank Now', writes Douglas Blakey

Some interesting statistics come to hand courtesy of The British Bankers Association (BBA). The BBA has released the first of a series of reports highlighting the dramatic changes taking place in the way we bank, entitled reasonably enough: ‘The Way We Bank Now’, writes Douglas Blakey

The study reports, inter alia, that customers of the UK’s five largest banks used their mobile phones for more than 18m transactions per week in 2013 – twice as many as in the previous year. In all, banking apps have been downloaded more than 12.4m times by customers of Lloyds, RBS, HSBC, Barclays and Santander.

All good stuff.

But just before the UK banking sector becomes overly pleased with itself, consider where we stand in the wider European digital banking market.

One set of stats will suffice – those for internet banking.

The latest set of figures for internet banking penetration in 28 European countries from Eurostat released on 27 March paints a rather more sobering picture.

Where do you think the UK stands in Europe for internet banking for example? Top 3, Top 5…not a hope.

12th. Not a misprint. 12th: not even in the top 10.

In 2013, 54% of UK adults in the age range 16-74, used their bank’s internet banking service in the 3 month period prior to the report being compiled.

Iceland and Norway (both 87%) lead the way, just ahead of Finland (84%) and Holland, Denmark and Sweden (all 82%).

The top 10 is rounded off with Estonia on 73%, Luxembourg (63%), Belgium and France both on 58%.

The UK limps into the top 12 just behind Latvia (55%) but ahead of EU5 peers Germany (47%), Spain (33%) and Italy 22%.

On the German stat as an aside, no wonder ING Direct is today so bullish about its prospects of growing its Germany customer numbers from 7m to 10m in the next 3 years – Germany offers huge scope to grow its mediocre online banking penetration rate.

Back in the UK, there are banks reporting hugely impressive internet banking stats: Tesco Bank for reports that 85% of transactions are now conducted via the internet.

The next set of stats from the BBA will no doubt make for interesting reading. But just in case anyone at the BBA is minded to be to self-congratulatory, there remains huge scope for digital banking – internet and mobile banking penetration rates – to grow considerably.