Millennials turn to mobiles to access finances, but is going digital the future?

11 September 2017

Millennials are heading up the charge to go digital, according to new research, which may come as no surprise.

Whether it’s chatting… sorry, typing away on What’s App, scrolling through images on Instagram, shopping online or streaming music and videos – it seems we under-35s are attached to our mobiles.

A look across the train carriage on my journey to work only cemented this perception: the majority of commuters had their eyes cast down to look at their handset or tablet screens – there was barely a book or newspaper in sight. In case you’re wondering, I was on my Kindle, which, yes, is an electronic device but it can only just muster a wi-fi connection and I simply use it to read books.

But this mobile mania is spreading to how we manage our finances too.

Telecoms and technology firm Tesla spoke to more than 8,000 millennials in eight markets across the world. It found that of the major UK banks, Barclays has the largest proportion of millennials among its customer base (42%) and these customers are most likely to engage with the bank via mobile banking – over 70% do so.

It believes millennials are driving mobile engagement, forcing traditional institutions to adopt a mobile-first strategy or risk disruption from digital challengers.

We’ve certainly seen a rise in the number of online-only banks, such as Starling Bank, which launched in 2014, followed by Atom Bank’s launch in April 2016.

But while it’s great that millennials’ voices are being heard and their needs are being listened to, does everyone want their finances to go digital?

When it comes to contactless payments, a Moneywise poll that received over 1,200 votes found that over a third (36%) of users don’t trust contactless payment technology, such as contactless credit and debit cards and the likes of Apple Pay and Samsung Pay.

One reader commented: “I liked the idea of contactless until I lost my card two weeks ago and within an hour some unscrupulous person had made three payments in shops I rarely visit, each one just under the £30 limit for contactless. No checks are ever made it seems! I’m seriously thinking of asking my bank to issue me a card, which does not have the contactless option!”

Personally, I like contactless cards for their ease of use, but I’m not sure whether I’m comfortable having banking apps and the likes of Apple Pay set up on my mobile – despite how safe they may be.

 In another poll, we asked how people prefer to receive their bills and financial statements. Of the 747 people who voted, over a third (39%) prefer paper statements to electronic versions and a quarter (25%) like a combination of both paper and electronic communications.

I, for one, like paper statements as they’re much more likely to grab my attention than an email – although I know they can be bad for the environment if they’re not on recycled paper. One provider sends me texts updates, which I always read – so perhaps this is the way forward.

Yet, however far technology progresses in the future, I think it’s important not to take away choice – even supposedly mobile savvy millennials can be technophobes at times.