BERLIN, May 8 (Xinhua) -- The increasing digitalization of banking services heralds a significant transformation of the German finance industry, a study published on Tuesday by the German Information Technology Association (Bitkom) predicts.
According to the study, more than three quarters (76 percent) of Germans used online banking services, while more than half of the population (57 percent) considered the digital services offered to be a key selling point of financial institutions.
The findings were based on a representative survey of 1,006 German citizens conducted online and via phone by Bitkom's in-house research unit.
"Online-Banking has become the norm for the vast majority of internet users. It is secure, accessible around the clock and above all convenient," a statement by Bitkom president Achim Berg read.
Berg argued that the financial industry faced "fundamental changes" during the next ten years given that its services could be "completely digitalized."
"We are looking at a tidal change for traditional banking houses," Berg said. He highlighted that only a relatively small share of respondents (47 percent) had indicated that they chose their bank because of its well-known brand.
The Bitkom president warned that the traditional finance industry was perceived to be highly-regulated, very conservative and focused on security considerations. New competitors in the shape of "FinTech" (financial technology) start-ups posed a real threat to such firms by offering online-only services which could be accessed by customers with greater ease and lower cost.
Although two thirds of respondents remained loyal to their traditional bank so far, 9 percent said that they already held an account with an online-only FinTech company. Additionally, 19 percent of those polled by Bitkom indicated that they could imagine moving to an online-only bank while 9 percent had concrete plans to do so within the next 12 months.
"We are experiencing a de-mystification of the banking world," Berg warned. Far-reaching structural change as a consequence of digitalization, as was currently ongoing in the automotive industry for example, was beginning to affect aspects of finance which were until recently considered to be protected from technological disruption.