Consumers Trust Robots for Surgery Over Savings Discovers HSBC

Andy Maguire has discovered that customers are twice as likely to trust a robot for heart surgery than for picking a savings account as he faces a challenge while he is tasked with upgrading HSBC Holdings Plc’s digital-banking systems.

“I do find it slightly odd,” said the chief operating officer of Europe’s largest bank, referring to its survey of more than 12,000 consumers in 11 countries published Wednesday. Compared to the 14 percent willing to submit to a machine for heart surgery, just 7 percent of respondents would trust a robot with their savings.

“You think, gosh, one would’ve imagined the world had moved on further or was moving faster than that,” Maguire said in an interview. He said that the “bar is pretty high” for banks dealing with people’s money, even while consumers tend naturally to trust medical professionals.

And in a push to ward off startup competitors and cut long-term operating expenses, banks around the world are spending billions of dollars to bolster creaking computer systems.

But driving the cost of overhauls higher and potentially eroding any savings, cut consumers and regulators are holding them to ever-higher standards of security and convenience.

Some tools being adopted by the finance industry are yet to win consumers’ trust even while four out of five people believe technology will make their lives easier, HSBC’s survey of attitudes to automated banking found out. With only a fifth using the tool, agreeing that they trust fingerprint recognition to replace their password was made by less than half of respondents.

According to the report, regardless of the security benefits, just 6 percent use voice recognition.

But a week after a BBC reporter tricked the bank’s voice-recognition software, the report’s findings come at a potentially embarrassing time for HSBC. And almost a decade on from the global financial crisis, the banking industry still suffers from low levels of trust on the part of the general public and this was shown by the risks that lenders face as they try to innovate in the industry.

“I’m slightly unimpressed when we’re trying to do something genuinely good for customers,” Maguire said. “These guys were colluding to try and break into the account. If they’d done it with pins and passwords, they would’ve got in without anyone knowing anything at all.”

Maguire said that HSBC will make some improvements after the BBC incident, and has caught 4 million pounds ($5.2 million) of fraud attempts since introducing the voice recognition tool just under a year ago. “We can make the bank completely secure, but it’d also be impossible to deal with,” he added.

At this present time, startups push to steal clients from major lenders and the financial industry’s expansion in technology investment comes amidst such an environment. But since the lender can work with fintech companies to improve its own services, trend won’t erode HSBC’s profitability, Maguire said.

“HSBC is a great place for fintechs to come and get rich,” he added

(Adapted from CNBC)

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