The phrase “Younger people are more likely than older people to embrace new technology and innovations” has always been true regardless of the techno-innovation in question.
So it's not surprising to read that, according to a new survey by management-consulting firm Accenture, “Younger bank customers are nearly twice as likely as older customers to consider switching to a branchless bank and to consider banking with major technology players if those companies offered banking services.”
Or, as the Washington Post's WonkBlog put it, “Walmart and Google could steal young customers from traditional banks.”
It's the bank-specific version of a story you've read many times before: “Old, established businesses in a given industry have trouble adapting to new technology.”
Film companies had to adapt or die (well, go bankrupt) after digital cameras killed the demand for their product; the post office is still figuring out how to remain financially viable now that free email and other communication technologies have wiped out most of the market for First Class mail, and traditional brick-and-mortar bankers, in addition to dealing with the unpleasant connotations which have attached to the word “banker” after the financial problems of the past few years, now find that people who have grown up since childhood in the “24/7 connectivity” world of the Internet harbor different expectations for all service providers, including bankers.
Some of these expectations can be chalked up to technological improvements. For example, Accenture said that among consumers on the 18 to 34 age range (the younger end of which includes some people with no memories of pre-Internet life) “68% expressed interest in receiving real-time analysis of their spending from their bank,” compared to only 35% of those over 55.
Before the Internet, of course, such real-time analysis would've been impossible for banks to provide; only now can such a service even be possible, let alone expected.
However, other aspects of the survey suggest that younger consumers' changed expectations go beyond mere technology, and entail different ideas of exactly what services a “bank” is actually supposed to provide.
Among 18-to-34s, 55% “would like their bank to help with the 'heavy lifting' of car-buying and provide discounts in that process, compared with 45% of those age 35 to 55, and one-quarter (24%) of those over 55,” according to the survey.