Consumers wary of banks sharing IT infrastructure, despite the benefits

Shared infrastructure would allow customers to easily switch bank accounts

Consumers are calling for portable account numbers to enable easier switching between bank providers, but are concerned about banks sharing IT infrastructure to make this happen.

According to a YouGov study carried out by BT, which saw more than 6,500 people across the world surveyed, the majority of consumers in the UK (62 percent), Spain (76 percent), France (64 percent) and Germany (61 percent) agree that a portable identity number to enable easy switching of bank accounts would be useful.

However, the prospect of banks sharing back-end infrastructure and having access to customers' personal information to enable this is less appealing, reflecting a concern around the security of personal data.

Many respondents felt that banks sharing IT infrastructure would be a bad idea (38 percent), whilst a significant number were still undecided (28 percent).

Only in Hong Kong (75 percent) and Spain (54 percent) did the majority of consumers think that a shared IT infrastructure for banks was a good idea.

"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," said Tom Regent, president, global banking and financial markets, BT Global Services.

"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."

He added: "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."

Interestingly, consumers are also unconvinced by the benefits of mobile banking - particularly in the UK and Germany. Only five percent of Germans and 10 percent of Brits said that mobile banking is one of their three most trusted banking technologies. Across the board, internet banking, in-branch self-service and ATMs were viewed as the 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."

Banks in the UK have come under scrutiny in recent months after a number of high profile IT failures, most notably RBS's botched upgrade to batch processing software CA 7 from CA Technologies, which left millions of customers unable to gain access to funds in their bank accounts.

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