According to the 2020 research of the Fintech and Insurtech Observatory at MIP, the School of Management of Politecnico di Milano, Covid-19 has accelerated the digitalisation of the financial and insurance industry in Italy.
The lockdown period has changed the needs and habits of Italian customers and SMEs in their interaction with banks and insurance companies, pushing traditional operators to partner with an ecosystem of start-ups and non-financial players.
During the lockdown period (March-April 2020), amongst the 51% of Italian customers who interacted with banks, 73% declared to be satisfied with the bank’s digital services (mainly online transfers and payments, online chats with the bank’s staff, digital signatures of documents). In the same period, a lower number of Italian customers (39%) interacted with insurance companies. 77% of them declared to be satisfied with the digital services (mainly chats with insurance agents and policy renewals). The remaining 23% found it hard to communicate with their agents.
The Observatory estimated that in April 2020 the banks’ digital transactions increased by 32% compared to April 2019, the banks’ online customers increased by 17%, and the online customers acquisitions rate increased by 75%.
Services related to digital identity were used by 48% of the customers during the lockdown period. Other interesting services used by customers were telemedicine included in insurance policies (6% of customers) and robo advisoring (6%).
Moreover, according to the Observatory, 29% of Italian customers have purchased an insurance policy online at least once in their lives. After Covid-19, 35% of Italians intend to evaluate an online purchase, hoping for greater simplicity in the purchasing process or a faster way to compare different policies.
Italian consumers confirm their trust in “traditional” banks and insurance companies, but now are more open to “less traditional” players. In fact, 53% of Italian customers declared to consider smartphone manufacturers (21%), eCommerce sites (19%), start-ups (19%) as providers for small loans.
Also Italian SMEs, which had changed the way they operated and interacted with their banks during the lockdown period (with the use of videoconference and online banking system), are now considering other non-traditional operators for short-term loans or working capital loans: 23% of them are open to consider supermarkets and 16% of them utilities. For insurance products, 19% of SMEs would consider offers provided by internet companies (19%), utilities (18%) or price comparison platforms (24%).
In the 2020 research, the Observatory identified over 300 Italian fintech and insurtech start-ups. The greatest part of these companies was able to adapt to the crisis: 54% of them did not suffer at all during and after the first lockdown, whilst 19% of them seized new business opportunities.
For banks and insurance companies, start-ups and new innovative players are not only competitors, but also potential partners for generating important synergies.
In fact, around the traditional financial companies there is an ecosystem ready to capture the requests for quality user experience, speed, personalisation, transparency and sustainability of Italian customers.
Indeed, Italian consumers are increasingly demanding greater speed in concluding transactions, more transparency in investment activities, flexible opening hours, and access to services from mobile.
Similar requests are made by insurance companies’ clients: speed in solving problems and settling claims, simplicity and transparency in signing policies and responding to complaints, 24/7 availability and access to services from mobile.
To guarantee an adequate user experience, customer data is needed, but Italian customers are not very keen on sharing personal information with banks and insurance companies (approx. 26% of Italians are willing to share personal non-compulsory info with banks and insurance companies).
On the other hand, Italians are interested in having various services and information in their bank’s apps. In addition to balances, transaction history and online transfers, 47% of consumers would like to have bill payments, 38% services for digital identity, 36% services of mobile operators, 34% services for mobility, 34% loyalty cards. In particular, customers aged under 35 are asking for services to manage and increase their personal resources, such as budgeting (31%) and customised investment options (30%).
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For more info (in Italian) visit: https://bebeez.it/files/2020/12/CS_Osservatorio-Fintech-Insurtech_2020.pdf