The crisis caused by the Covid-19 panic has brought about an increase in the digital skills of the population, according to a study by CBC bank.
In the first place, the crisis has accelerated the digitisation of the banking sector: many face-to-face payments that would previously have been made in cash are now done by bank card or banking app.
The development has been welcomed by the public for various reasons: health (61%), ease of use (56%) and removal of the need to look for a cash machine (39%).
More than 60% of people polled said the move to digital payments has simplified their lives.
The contactless facility of the bank card is now used by 70% of those asked, with 26% starting to do so only as a result of the health crisis – contactless allows customers to avoid using the terminal keypad, which cannot be disinfected effectively after every use in a busy shop.
But the positive side-effects of the crisis go further than payments and banking.
Many people found that their digital and online competences have improved since the Covid-19 outbreak in other areas of life, too: in teleworking (45%), in gaining access to information (42%), in making appointments (41%), in managing a budget (39%) and in carrying out administrative tasks (33%).
One of the survey’s findings, however, may come as a surprise. Respondents said that the future of banking would be two-thirds digital and only one-third physical, which suggests people are happy with the gradual disappearance of manned bank branches from the streetscape.
As evidence, the bank offers its Virtual Agency, which this year celebrated its fifth anniversary by offering a free online account, and exceeding the number of 30,000 virtual clients.
“It is clear that people in Belgium had already embarked on the digital train long before the health crisis, and that Covid-19 has accelerated our daily digital habits,” said Bruno Menu, director of digital development with CBC.
“In a few months, we moved several years forward. Digital has emerged as a real opportunity, not only for health reasons but also in terms of saving time and trouble. Just as Belgians seized the opportunity to communicate by video to stay close to their loved ones, they understood the benefits of using their banking app for daily operations, such as investments, as well as to pay for parking or buy a train ticket securely.”