Brits are souring on app-only startup banks

Startup bank Monzo's iconic 'hot coral' cards.

Startup bank Monzo’s iconic ‘hot coral’ cards.

  • A survey found 54% of people in the UK say they would use an app-only startup bank, down from 78% in the middle of last year.
  • A similar decline was found in global attitudes.
  • More consumers are turning to digital banking despite the findings, suggesting they favour digital offerings from traditional banks over startups.

LONDON – British people are going off the idea of entrusting their finances to a digital-only startup bank, according to new data.

A survey by business intelligence provider RFI Group found a decline in appetite among UK consumers between the first half of 2017 and the second half of the year. People’s willingness to bank with a digital-only startup fell from 78% at the start of 2017 to just 54% at the end of the year.

RFI surveyed over 2,000 people from the UK and said the group made up a “nationally representative sample of the banked population.”

Britain has experienced in a boom in app-only, startup banks in recent years, including Monzo, Atom, and Starling Bank. These companies have raised hundreds of millions of pounds in funding and grown quickly to attract hundreds of thousands of customers. However, their client numbers are still dwarfed by traditional banks.

The decline in the UK’s willingness to bank with digital startups mirrors feelings globally. RFI Group found the global appetite for digital-only main bank provider decreased from 50% to 44% between the first and second half of last year.

Despite the mood change, RFI found the proportion of consumers using digital banking globally rose from 58% to 68% across 2017. RFI Group said consumers appear to be preferring digital offerings from existing banks rather than turning to startups.

Charles Green, CEO of RFI Group, said in a statement: “The findings suggest that traditional banks which continue to ‘up their game’ in engaging consumers digitally will likely be the ones to benefit in the near future.

“Consumers are becoming more sophisticated when it comes to digital banking, their needs will continue to change and while this happens we are seeing them lean towards a model that provides channel choice which includes both the traditional and more recent offerings.”

Virgin Money announced last week that it has spent almost £40 million so far developing its own digital bank.