FICO Survey Finds In-Person Banking Fading as Almost Half of North Americans Prefer Opening Bank Accounts Digitally

Survey also found millions believe their identity has been used by fraudsters to open an account, North Americans are now embracing biometrics to protect their information

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Fraud Protection & Compliance

SAN JOSE, Calif., April 21, 2021


  • FICO today released its Consumer Digital Banking study that found consumers across the U.S. and Canada have embraced digital account opening and biometric security in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Almost half (41 percent) of consumers are more likely to use digital channels to open a financial account than a year ago.
  • Interestingly, 23 million Americans (11 precent) believe their identity has been used by a fraudster to open an account.
  • As a result, three-quarters of consumers will provide their banks with their biometrics to secure their accounts including facial scan, fingerprint and/or voiceprint.
  • On average, 25 percent of Americans will go to a competitor or abandon the application completely if asked to go outside of channel to complete an application.

FICO, a global analytics leader, today released its 2nd annual Consumer Digital Banking study that found consumers across the U.S. and Canada have embraced digital banking and biometric identity proofing during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The study found that almost half (41 percent) of North American consumers are more likely to use digital means to open a financial account than a year ago, while almost a third (32 percent) are less likely to visit a branch to open a new account.

“In an effort to help stop the spread of the virus, consumers across North America have accelerated their move from brick-and-mortar branches to digital banking channels,” said Liz Lasher, vice president, FICO.  “As a result, consumers’ expectations have shifted, placing higher priority on having a seamless and engaging digital experience, which includes establishing account security.  For financial service providers, this means tomorrow’s success will rely on having the right platform to deliver enhanced customer experiences, improved fraud protection and financial crime compliance.”

Higher Digital Banking Consumer Expectations

Consumers across North America expect a seamless, uninterrupted experience when opening accounts digitally, either using a website or a mobile app.  They also don’t want to be forced to use another channel to complete tasks, particularly those associated with identity proofing.  Specifically, Canadian consumers have higher expectations about the tasks they should be able to complete digitally than those in the U.S.  Canadians expect to be able to prove their identity (70 percent), prove where they live (60 percent) and set up biometric security (45 percent) within the digital channel they used to make the application.  Whereas for Americans, these expectations drop to 62 percent, 52 percent and 42 percent respectively.

With this shift towards to digital-first banking, identity proofing and biometrics have become increasingly top of mind for consumers as identity theft is a real threat for people across North America. In the U.S., 11% of people believe their identity has been used by a fraudster to open an account, compared to 6% in Canada, which is equivalent to 23 million Americans and 660,000 Canadians.  As a result, more than two-thirds of Americans (72 percent) and Canadians (68 percent) acknowledge that banks’ identity proofing is vital to protecting them from fraud.

Once accounts are open, the vast majority of consumers across North America are happy for their banks to use biometrics such as facial scan, fingerprint and/or voiceprint to protect them.  The survey found that 76 percent of Americans and 74 percent of Canadians would be happy to do this, with over 40% (U.S. 42%, Canada 45%) even expecting biometric account logins to be set as part of the account opening process.

People Need to Develop a Skillset to Use Apps to Open Financial Accounts

The survey also found that when consumers are asked to move out of channel to prove their identities, for example by mailing documents, visiting branches or even sending scanned documents by email many of them will abandon the application. On average, 25 percent of Americans will go to a competitor or abandon the application completely, which dips slightly for Canadians at 21 percent.

While a significant portion of consumers can carry out the tasks needed to open a bank account using a mobile app, some will need help; particularly when they need to verify their identity. In general, a slightly higher percentage of Canadians say they can carry out these tasks compared to those in the U.S.:

  • Download the provider’s mobile app: 53 percent (U.S.) vs 57 percent (Canada)
  • Provide a selfie: 37 percent (U.S.) vs 38 percent (Canada)
  • Scan documents such as a passport or driver’s license: 46 percent (U.S.) vs 47 percent (Canada)
  • Scan a QR Code: 41 percent (U.S.) vs 42 percent (Canada)
  • Scan your fingerprint: 41 percent (U.S. and Canada)

"Consumers embraced the digital first economy during the past 12 months, but how, when and what digital channels they prefer still varies greatly across demographics," added Lasher. "For banks, it’s critical they understand their customers and deploy solutions and policies that can operate across channels and adapt to their customers evolving preferences."

For more details and insights regarding the survey results:

For more information on FICO fraud solutions, visit

FICO’s Consumer Banking Survey was conducted between December 2020 and January 2021 using an online, quantitative poll of 14,000 consumers across 14 countries, carried out on behalf of FICO by an independent research company. The countries surveyed were Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, UK, USA, Canada, South Africa, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico.

About FICO
FICO (NYSE: FICO) powers decisions that help people and businesses around the world prosper. Founded in 1956 and based in Silicon Valley, the company is a pioneer in the use of predictive analytics and data science to improve operational decisions. FICO holds more than 195 US and foreign patents on technologies that increase profitability, customer satisfaction and growth for businesses in financial services, telecommunications, health care, retail and many other industries. Using FICO solutions, businesses in more than 120 countries do everything from protecting 2.6 billion payment cards from fraud, to helping people get credit, to ensuring that millions of airplanes and rental cars are in the right place at the right time.

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