Survey shows UK SMEs are interested in switching to digital banks

A new study by Unisys exploring the attitudes of UK-based small to medium-sized enterprises (SME) about their banking providers reveals that business owners have high-levels of satisfaction with their financial institutions but many still express significant frustration with the banking technology offered, which inhibits them from accessing the banking services they require.

Unisys recently released new research into SME banking in the U.K. which Whitecap is proud to have helped deliver. Surveying over 450 SME owners in the UK, innovative banking services were cited as the biggest demand, highlighting an opportunity for banks to encourage SMEs to switch providers.

Key highlights from the survey include:

83 percent of SMEs use mobile banking, while almost all use online banking for their businesses.

Trust was cited as the main reason for staying with current providers. Current innovation and digital services did not score as highly as expected as the reason why they selected their bank, suggesting that digital propositions need to be better developed.

In addition to this, neither service standards or fees were key differentiators when SMEs considered business banking services, showing a lack of competition in the banking sector.

Whilst businesses said they find technology critical to their business, 39 percent of SMEs regularly experience technological problems that stop them access the banking services they require, with eight percent saying this happens ‘every time.’

47 percent of SMEs would move to a challenger bank, digital bank or non-banking brand if they did decide to switch, more so than an established banking brand.

Technology and data are key to satisfied customers

When it comes to what would make them switch, one in six SMEs surveyed said they are already looking to switch in the next 12 months, with the main incentives being if providers can better meet their needs. In fact, more than half would value an app that gave them access to all their banking facilities in one place, and more than one-third (37 percent) are comfortable with having little to no human interaction with their business banking interactions.

“SMEs are tech-savvy with, often, a higher uptake of online and mobile services than most consumers, and yet many experience technical difficulties regularly,” commented Simon Healy, Industry Director for Unisys Financial Services, EMEA. “They see the use of technology by banks as critical to retention, but also in the development of new and innovative propositions that can enable their business.”

The Open Banking revolution

Open Banking proved to have the potential to shake up the market and facilitate innovative new propositions SMEs are looking for. While awareness of Open Banking is high (87 percent had heard of Open Banking), understanding from SMEs is low – only 28 percent had a strong understanding, while one-third (33 percent) had either not heard of it or did not understand it. The sentiment towards Open Banking was found to be overwhelmingly positive, with SMEs that understood Open Banking being 3.6 times more likely to switch banks in the future to reap the benefits of tailored digital offerings.

“These reforms will force banks to shift from being one-stop-shops for financial services, to open platforms where customers can start to embrace a more modular approach to banking by giving verified third-parties direct access to this data,” continued Healy. “In today’s digital and customer-driven world, in which those who share data call the shots, it’s adapt or die – and banks need to respond.”

More information about the research can be found here.

Whitecap Consulting are specialists in providing strategy, marketing and commercial consultancy. Read more about us