24 May 2017

People in Asia are more likely than those in Europe and North America to understand and have confidence in new technologies, according to a new HSBC report.

Levels of take-up and trust vary significantly, with China and India being the most open to digital technology, and those in France and Germany the most cautious.

Some banks and public services now enable people to use their fingerprints to verify their identity, for example. This is often more convenient than a password, as well as being more secure. Some 40 per cent of people surveyed in China and 31 per cent in India say they have used fingerprint technology, compared with just 9 per cent in France and Germany.

John Flint, Global Chief Executive of Retail Banking and Wealth Management, HSBC, said: “Consumers living in countries in the East seem to have a better understanding and greater trust of technology and how it can benefit their lives. The speed of change and the insatiable rate of adoption put the likes of India, China and the UAE leaps ahead of most Western markets.”

HSBC’s Trust in Technology report, based on a survey of more than 12,000 people, examines attitudes towards digital tools in 11 countries around the world.

Asian consumers are also more positive about the potential of artificial technology to provide advice. When someone is looking for a mortgage, for example, a computer programme can ask them questions to understand their needs, then analyse the available information before presenting the most relevant options and suggestions.

In India, 50 per cent of people surveyed say that computers can provide more accurate advice than humans, the highest level of trust among the 11 countries surveyed. Just 18 per cent of people in Canada think a computer would be more accurate.

Some types of innovation are still poorly understood, however. More than half of people surveyed across 11 countries say that they have not heard of, or do not know what is meant by:

  • Distributed ledger technologies such as blockchain (80 per cent say they have not heard of this or do not understand what it is)
  • Robo-advisers and automated investment advice (69 per cent)
  • Finance applications integrated into social media, such as WeChat or Facebook (60 per cent)

Mr Flint continued: “We have a role to play in building our customers’ knowledge and trust so that they see the value to their lives of adopting a new payments app or the latest biometric security. At HSBC we will continue to adapt as customers’ needs change, to provide banking on their terms.”