Is cash still king in Singapore?

This post is sponsored by Brandwatch. 

Singapore has been moving towards the goal of becoming a Smart Nation in recent years. It’s now common to see consumers scanning their smartphones to make a payment, prompting an approving look from the vendor as a sign of a successfully completed transaction.

As we continue to drive the growth of online transactions and digital payments, as Singaporeans, we find ourselves fretting less about long queues at the ATM or carrying that awkward bunch of coins to get our daily kopi.

But with multiple banking options available, there are lots of options to navigate. Determining what options work best for us, and how to build our lifestyles around them, can present some interesting challenges.

For this research, we used Brandwatch Qriously to ask Singaporeans what motivates them to get on board with digital banking and how to ensure the continuity of customer loyalty with banks.

Singaporeans are incredibly loyal banking customers

About 82% of Singaporeans haven’t even thought of switching banks in the past year, which speaks a lot to their loyalty.

One of the common reasons attributed to such strong loyalty is the great customer experience banks have been providing – whether through online/mobile apps or customer service.

Singaporeans prioritise positive experiences in their banking journey.

On the other hand, those who have considered switching banks said they have done so as a result of expensive fees and/or poor customer experience.

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That said, strong incentives from another bank, or the curiosity to try something new, do have the potential to turn customers away from their current banks. To retain these customers, it’s vital that financial institutions stay up to date with customers’ expectations and keep their offerings in line with them.

Mobile banking in Singapore is polarising

In our survey, we also discovered that Singaporeans tend to either use mobile banking all the time or never use it at all.

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For those who hardly use mobile banking, worrying about security and information-sharing are key concerns. It’s also not surprising to know the majority of this group of people fall into the age group of 55 and above.

In the current climate, online and mobile banking are arguably more important than ever, in that they enable finances to be managed without going into a branch. This is also a time for banks to educate those who don’t currently use these services on security aspects to ensure they have access to their finances in times of self-isolation, and feel comfortable doing so.         

Singapore is moving towards a cashless world faster than other countries

Compared with the rest of the countries we surveyed, Singapore is in a great position to move towards a cashless world.

As the world moves away from cash, Singaporeans are better equipped than those in many other places.

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COVID-19 presents the world with many, many challenges, and it will shape the way we live for years to come. For banking, this means several things.

Face-to-face interactions in the short term (and potentially the longer term) are being reduced. Online or mobile services offer a great solution to this, so onboarding those who haven’t yet made the jump online is very important. Meanwhile, we saw above that great online experiences are a reason that loyal customers love their banks – improving these digital services could help improve retention over time.

A cashless future could come sooner than we thought. Singapore is already well set up to begin to move towards being totally cashless, and health concerns have dialled up that urgency.

The future is uncertain. For the best chance of future success, businesses of all kinds must stay close to consumers’ changing preferences and acknowledge and alleviate their concerns.


Click here for the full Singapore Financial Services Report, and here for more daily and weekly insights around COVID-19.