Call for portable account numbers for easier switching between banks

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Portable account numbers, designed to make switching between banking providers easier, would be welcomed by customers across the world, according to an online YouGov study conducted by BT.

The research, which surveyed more than 6,500 people across six countries worldwide, found that the majority of consumers in Spain (76 per cent), Hong Kong (70 per cent), France (64 per cent), Germany (61 per cent) and the UK (62 per cent) all agree that a portable identity number — allowing them to switch banks without changing account details — would be useful.

Despite this, there are mixed feelings about the prospect of banks sharing their IT infrastructure and having access to customers’ personal information, which reflects a concern about the security and protection of personal data. In fact, many respondents felt that banks sharing infrastructure would be a bad idea (38 per cent), whilst a significant number were undecided (28 per cent), even though it would have the potential to improve competition and allow them to switch banks more easily.

Of those countries surveyed, only in Hong Kong (75 per cent) and Spain (54 per cent) did a majority of respondents think that a shared IT infrastructure for banks was a good idea.

Meanwhile, the majority of respondents across all markets did not consider engaging in dialogue or sharing information with their banks over social media channels as a priority, despite the explosion of sites like Twitter and Facebook across the globe. On the contrary, when asked which three tools they would most like their bank to provide, customers indicated that they would like to see more sophisticated online tools such as peer review sections (32 per cent), webchat facilities (23 per cent) and ‘compare-my-bank’ type services (29 per cent) to give them better information and help them make informed decisions.

Tom Regent, president, global banking and financial markets, BT Global Services said: “There is clearly an appetite for technology and services which help increase transparency and competition, such as number portability and richer online comparison tools. But there is also a significant level of apprehension around the creation of a shared banking infrastructure. With any new solution that the industry moves forward with, they will need to be mindful that consumers need reassurance around security and protection of their data. Increasingly, we are working with our bank customers to develop security strategies, helping them to put effective risk and compliance management in place, test for malicious system attacks, and support identity and access management.”

When asked about which three factors would be the most appealing when considering moving banks, the results were fairly consistent across all countries. Good online banking facilities (39 per cent), the presence of a local branch (45 per cent) and the ability to access banking services 24/7 (29 per cent) were ranked highest.

Respondents in Spain placed more emphasis than others on having trust in a bank’s brand (37 per cent) and reputation for security (36 per cent) – ranking that higher than factors such as 24/7 availability of banking services (22 per cent).

Some interesting geographical differences also emerged in the perceptions of banking technology, with German consumers the least likely to choose mobile banking in their top three most trusted banking technologies, followed closely by the UK. Only five per cent of Germans and 10 per cent of Brits said that mobile banking is one of their three most trusted technologies, although the results were low across all countries. Across the board, Internet banking, in-branch self-service and ATMs were viewed as the three most trustworthy technologies.

Tom Regent continued: “Banks are increasingly focused on providing services via smart phones and tablet devices in order to keep pace with digital changes and innovation. While this is an important strategy, banks must be careful not to lose sight of the need for human contact in either the branch or via a local call centre agent. Our research shows that these continue to be customers’ most trusted and preferred channels.”

Customers are even more cautious about the use of alternative payments, such as Twollars, Bitcoins, Facebook Credits and virtual wallets. The percentage of respondents who had tried alternative payments was less than 10 per cent across most of the countries polled. However, respondents from Hong Kong and Spain were the most likely to try alternative payment methods in the next 18 months (43 per cent and 36 per cent respectively). Respondents from the USA and Germany were least likely to say they would try alternative payment systems in the next 18 months (12 per cent and nine per cent).

 

 

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Online prices fall at steepest rate for six years

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TalkTalk’s quarterly Digital Retail Price Index (DRPI) tracks the rate of inflation of a basket of goods bought online against comparable goods bought in-store. The results from the report show that online prices are decreasing at the fastest rate since 2007, in what is also the most prolonged period of deflation online since Q4 2007.

A strong pound has increased UK online spending power and driven international prices down with the Digital Retail Price Index decreasing by 0.6% in 2012 compared to 2011. In contrast, the In Store Price Comparator – a measure of the price changes faced by a consumer if they replicated their online purchasing habits in a bricks and mortar store – increased by 1.5% over the same period.
The report, conducted for TalkTalk by researchers at the Centre for Economics and Business Research, suggests that shopping online offers great value for money as annual inflation online compared to the high street diverges at the greatest rate yet.
Shehan Mohamed, economist at Cebr said: “We expect online prices will continue to fall for much of the year as competition on the internet picks up. The wedge between online and in-store inflation is likely to persist as high-street retailers struggle to manage their transport, energy and labour costs.”
Tristia Clarke, Commercial Director at TalkTalk, said: “Shopping online has never been more popular, and our research shows that people who shop online are benefiting from the best prices, as well as the convenience of shopping from home.
TalkTalk offers the best value broadband, telephone, mobile and TV services on the market, by stripping out unnecessary costs and passing the savings to our customers. Online retailers have a similar model, which is giving them the edge in an increasingly competitive market.”

Over the last 18 months TalkTalk has invested in over 450 local communities to bring them affordable internet access and has helped found Go ON UK, a charity which aims to make sure every individual experiences the wide range of benefits that the internet had to offer.

 

 

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BT launches better value totally unlimited broadband

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BT has raised the stakes in the battle for broadband customers by introducing Totally Unlimited Broadband on all but its entry level offerings – and cutting the price.

The UK’s most popular broadband now comes without any usage limits and free from traffic management from just £16 a month for 16Mbps copper broadband, £23 for 38Mbps Infinity or £26 for 76Mbps Infinity.

Previously, the cheapest way for BT broadband customers to go unlimited was by taking a £26 a month option. And new customers now also get the first six months free, offering a big saving at the entry point for unlimited BT broadband.

As part of a suite of changes, BT is also announcing BT Cloud, a new online storage service with a free allowance for all consumer broadband customers. Infinity 76Mbps and top tier copper customers receive a 50GB allowance.

The service allows BT’s consumer broadband customers to safely and securely back up and share their photographs, documents and videos wherever they are.

Any files backed up with BT Cloud can be easily accessed from smartphones, tablets and computers, in or out of the home. Customers can stream their content direct to their mobile device, regardless of whether it is an android, iPad or iPhone and share it with friends via e-mail, Facebook and Twitter.

John Petter, managing director of BT’s Consumer division, said: “We believe we have boosted our broadband offering by moving our best broadband deals to totally unlimited. Customers told us that they wanted to be able to enjoy catch-up TV, streamed films and other bandwidth-eating applications without having to worry about going over their limit or being slowed down by their ISP.

“But we wanted to make that really affordable too, without the sort of traffic management Virgin Media, TalkTalk or EE customers may find themselves subject to. Unlike Sky, we’re extremely confident that our network can stand up to the extra bandwidth demands from totally unlimited products everywhere across the UK.

“BT Cloud helps customers to place their treasured digital pictures and family videos with their trusted broadband supplier, at no extra cost. We believe that adding extra value to our broadband sets us apart from rivals like Sky and TalkTalk that do not offer cloud storage with their broadband.”

BT’s Totally Unlimited Broadband portfolio all come with free weekend or weekend and evening calls, free BT Cloud and extra benefits such as free BT Wi-fi and BT SmartTalk. The company will continue to sell its basic broadband, which costs just £13 a month, although this product will not be unlimited, along with Infinity 1, which costs just £18.
Totally Unlimited Broadband will be available from February 1. The 16Mbps copper broadband options both come with the first six months free, while customers can get Infinity for just £9 per month for the first three months.

Existing customers will be able to switch to Totally Unlimited Broadband by signing a new contract.

 

 

 

  

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