Many Singaporeans still wary about banking tech: HSBC

People here would trust a robot to perform open-heart surgery but, when it comes to a robo-adviser dishing out financial advice - forget it.

That was one of the findings of a new HSBC poll which noted that many Singaporeans are still cautious about using banking technology even though they agree that it can make their lives better and simpler.

It found that 21 per cent of the 1,003 surveyed here would trust a remote-controlled robot operated by an experienced surgeon to perform open-heart surgery, compared with 28 per cent of 12,000 surveyed from 11 countries.

But only 7 per cent of Singaporeans would trust a robo-adviser programmed by humans for guidance on a savings account. This finding was similar to the global figures.

The report found that, while 66 per cent of Singapore respondents use online banking, "the uptake for newer experimental banking is lower".

Only 9 per cent prefer to use banking apps on smartphones or tablets to manage their money - below the global average of 13 per cent.

Mr Anurag Mathur, head of retail banking and wealth management at HSBC Bank (Singapore), said: "Trust in technology is built over time... Caution is further amplified when money is at stake and Singaporeans have traditionally valued stability and security in banking, although they are open to change."

There is also much concern over cyber security. Despite being tech- literate, the survey found that many people did not know how to combat cyber risks, a factor that slows the acceptance of new technology.

Those extremely or very concerned about personal data leakage made up 73 per cent of those polled here, compared with 56 per cent globally.

And 64 per cent of people here still use "traditional password and numerical pins, rather than other more secure mechanisms to secure their electronic devices".

While only 24 per cent use fingerprint recognition as an identification method, 47 per cent agree that it would be the "top trusted replacement for their passwords".

And 51 per cent think the future of identity recognition will be entirely biometric-based in 10 years.

Mr Mathur noted it is a Catch-22 situation: "When it comes to banking technology, trust has to be earned and this is solely driven by familiarity with new technology which is low. Similarly, consumers see security of finances as paramount but they are still relying on antiquated security that emerging technology will help overcome."

This shows greater knowledge and understanding of the security and predictability of new technologies "is essential to building trust and accelerating adoption".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 06, 2017, with the headline 'People still wary about banking tech: HSBC'. Print Edition | Subscribe