The future of digital banking (2024)

In recent years, digital banks have gained traction with millions of consumers worldwide. As a mobile bank, N26 is deeply invested in understanding the current state of the industry, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. We teamed up with Accenture to gain a better understanding of consumers’ attitudes towards digital banking. Our analysis is based on their 2020 Global Banking Consumer Study, which surveyed 47,000+ customers of digital-only and/or traditional banks in 28 markets.

The future of digital banking (1)

Following a global demand for simpler, more intuitive services, the banking industry is being digitally disrupted. New, innovative players in digital banking are gaining trust with consumers while incumbents accelerate their digital transformation, putting them in a stronger position to retain their customers. The growth and success of digital banks showcase the promise of this market. In just a few years, millions of customers have switched to digital banking for its ease and convenience—a trend accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Following the shifts in consumer expectations since the pandemic began, it's clear that digital banks now have even greater opportunities to expand their footprint by drawing diverse communities closer to the benefits of the world of fintech—especially women and low-income earners.

"It is clear that building and earning trust is a significant factor in our industry’s future, especially as we do not have centuries of legacy that traditional banks do. However, the pandemic showed that we must be focused on the future, not the past. That's why N26 is building banking for the 21st century and continues to earn the trust of millions of customers around the world", said Alex Weber, Chief Growth Officer of N26.

1 in 4 customers are already using a digital-only bank

Across the 28 countries surveyed, the number of consumers with a digital bank account represented 23% of the population—an estimated 450 million customers.

But estimates from our analysis reveal that the number of consumers with a digital bank account could grow to at least 70% in most of the regions. The desire to make bank branches a thing of the past is strong. Plus, nearly half of the consumers surveyed who don’t currently have a digital bank account say they would be motivated to open an account so they could access typical digital banking features. Together, these findings suggest there’s still a largely untapped market for digital banks—potentially as many as 1.4 billion customers across the 28 countries.

The future of digital banking (2)

Drivers and barriers to digital-only banking

The future of digital banking (3)

Drivers for digital-only banking

When it comes to digital banking, trust in the financial institution is key. We learned that the main drivers of digital bank adoption worldwide include the simple, convenient mobile app and website experience, clear and simple bank communications, and competitive pricing. These factors were also emphasized by customers who don’t currently bank digitally as incentives that might convince them to switch. These findings suggest that digital-only banks could gain loyal consumers by emphasizing these competitive advantages over traditional competitors.

The future of digital banking (4)

The barriers that remain

Despite these drivers, there will likely continue to be a proportion of consumers who remain skeptical of digital banks. 28% of all consumers surveyed say none of the typical digital-only banking features would motivate them to open a digital only banking account. Some are simply happy with their current provider, while others are unfamiliar with the offerings of digital banks. Although 35% of the bankable population in Europe say typical digital banking features wouldn’t motivate them to open a digital-only bank account, 65% could still be converted to digital banks because of their clear value proposition.

The future of digital banking (5)

Countries taking the lead in switching to digital-only banking

Despite undeniable adoption across markets, certain countries are leading the charge when it comes to digital-first banking. Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Brazil, and China boast the largest share of their respective populations already using a digital bank.

It’s also clear that Western European countries are catching up quickly. Between 2018 and 2020, customer acquisition accelerated in the countries with relatively low adoption rates: Spain, Germany, Belgium, Italy, and the Netherlands. Globally, the countries with the strongest growth in digital banking adoption between 2018 and 2020 were Switzerland, Brazil, Ireland, the UK, and France. Looking forward, China and the United States will likely see strong digital-only banking adoption. These markets could soon have a total of 771 million and 148 million digital bank customers, respectively.

The future of digital banking (6)
Digital banking: Conversion trends in the studied countries
The Netherlands 78.442.450.720%
Germany 7.510.144.254.335%
Belgium 9.612.543.55630%
South Africa 1013.965.979.839%
Spain 10.615.348.263.544%
Mexico 14.518.562.58128%
United States 14.318.740.759.431%
Canada 1618.837.856.618%
France 12.919.734.954.653%
Ireland 14.923.251.274.456%
Italy 20.526.145.671.728%
Russia 27.632.248.580.717%
Japan 36.441.237.478.613%
China (mainland) 34.642.541.183.623%
China (Hong Kong) 15.624.350.374.655%
Brazil 25.44443.487.473%
United Arab Emirates 48.750.741.492.14%
Denmark 11.4143852.123%
Finland 5.87.451.158.427%
Norway 11.115.745.561.241%
Sweden 7.510.540.651.140%
Switzerland 7.71446.560.582%
Australia 7.712.146.358.458%
Israel 7.69.660.47026%
Malaysia 16.123.65376.646%
Saudi Arabia 54.354.338.993.20%
Singapore 16.120.360.88126%
United Kingdom 9.514.743.858.555%

Women may be driving the next wave of digital banking

In the early years of digital banking, customers tended to be high-income earners and male. However, the tide is turning. Brazil has seen slightly more women open a digital-only bank account—an exciting indicator with implications for other markets—and adoption among women is growing in Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Belgium, France and Norway too. We also gained insights into the diverse incomes of digital-bank customers. Though the majority of customers are on the higher end of the income spectrum, this is also seeing a shift. Spain, for example, has the highest adoption of the service among middle-class customers in Europe, while Ireland, Finland, Norway, Italy and France continue to see their share of low-income digital banking customers increase.

Another fascinating trend is the age of digital-bank users. Often considered a service for the younger generations, digital banking in Europe is taking off among middle-aged customers too—like in Italy, where nearly one in two customers is over 45 years old. This shows that the benefits of digital banking are compelling to a broad range of customers, regardless of gender, age, or income.

"As digital banks continue to grow at a rapid pace and scale internationally, we see a huge opportunity for these players to create value for banking customers that the world has not seen before. From our research, it is clear that a new path for banking - one that is digital and driven by innovation - has been accelerated by the pandemic. However, digital banks must remain committed to winning trust with the bankable population to drive the lasting change they wish to see in the industry". Dr. Nils Beier, Managing Director, Banking & Public Sector Strategy Lead at Accenture

The results are clear—digital banking is poised to grow strongly

In the end, the results were clear—digital banking is taking off, and will only become more prevalent in the years to come. Obstacles remain, including earning trust and overcoming unfamiliarity with digital offerings. And yet the drivers—simplicity, convenience, value, and safety—have seen conversions grow sharply. As everyone, incumbents and challenger banks alike, converge on a digital end-game, the leaders that are dedicated to creating a seamless, trustworthy experience for customers will come out on top. Want to dive deeper into our insights to learn more about the state of digital banking? Simply tap the link below to download the report.


For any questions regarding the methodology behind this project, please reach out to

Digital banking has gained significant traction in recent years, with millions of consumers worldwide opting for mobile banking services. N26, a prominent mobile bank, has partnered with Accenture to gain insights into consumers' attitudes towards digital banking. Their analysis is based on Accenture's 2020 Global Banking Consumer Study, which surveyed over 47,000 customers across 28 markets [[1]].

Growth and Success of Digital Banks

The banking industry is experiencing digital disruption, driven by a global demand for simpler and more intuitive services. Digital banks, both innovative newcomers and traditional incumbents undergoing digital transformation, are gaining trust with consumers. This growth and success demonstrate the promise of the digital banking market. In just a few years, millions of customers have switched to digital banking due to its ease and convenience, a trend that has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic [[1]].

Current State of Digital Banking

According to the study, approximately 23% of the population across the 28 surveyed countries already have a digital bank account, representing an estimated 450 million customers. However, the analysis suggests that this number could grow to at least 70% in most regions, indicating a significant untapped market for digital banks. It is estimated that there could be as many as 1.4 billion potential customers across these countries who have yet to adopt digital banking [[1]].

Drivers and Barriers to Digital-Only Banking

Trust in the financial institution is a key driver for digital bank adoption worldwide. The main drivers identified in the study include a simple and convenient mobile app and website experience, clear and simple bank communications, and competitive pricing. These factors also serve as incentives for customers who do not currently bank digitally to consider switching. However, there will still be a proportion of consumers who remain skeptical of digital banks. Some are content with their current provider, while others are unfamiliar with the offerings of digital banks. Despite this, a clear value proposition could convert a significant portion of the bankable population to digital banks [[1]].

Countries Leading in Digital-Only Banking Adoption

Certain countries are leading the charge in digital-first banking. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Brazil, and China have the largest share of their respective populations already using a digital bank. Western European countries, such as Spain, Germany, Belgium, Italy, and the Netherlands, have also seen accelerated customer acquisition in recent years. Looking ahead, China and the United States are expected to experience strong digital-only banking adoption, potentially reaching 771 million and 148 million digital bank customers, respectively [[1]].

Women and Low-Income Earners in Digital Banking

The study highlights that women are increasingly opening digital-only bank accounts, with Brazil leading the way in this trend. Adoption among women is also growing in Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Belgium, France, and Norway. Additionally, the income spectrum of digital bank customers is becoming more diverse. While the majority of customers are on the higher end of the income scale, countries like Spain are seeing higher adoption among middle-class customers. Ireland, Finland, Norway, Italy, and France are witnessing an increase in the share of low-income digital banking customers [[1]].

Age of Digital Bank Users

Contrary to the perception that digital banking is primarily for younger generations, the study reveals that middle-aged customers are also embracing digital banking in Europe. For example, in Italy, nearly half of the customers are over 45 years old. This indicates that the benefits of digital banking appeal to a broad range of customers, regardless of age, gender, or income [[1]].

In conclusion, the study conducted by N26 and Accenture highlights the significant growth and potential of digital banking. Trust, simplicity, convenience, and value are key drivers for digital bank adoption. While obstacles remain, digital banking is poised to become even more prevalent in the coming years. The leaders in the industry will be those who prioritize creating a seamless and trustworthy experience for customers [[1]].

The future of digital banking (2024)


What is the future of digital banking? ›

Digital technology is transforming the banking industry by improving customer experience, increasing operational efficiency, and reducing costs. Artificial intelligence, blockchain, mobile banking, cybersecurity, big data analytics, and augmented reality are among the key trends shaping the future of banking.

How will the bank be in the future? ›

Walking into a bank in the future might be drastically different, mainly because the customer might be the only human inside the building. Through AI and robotics, the banks of the future will be able to operate without any human assistance.

How will technology change banking in the future? ›

Banks leverage data analytics and big data technologies to derive actionable insights from vast customer data. By harnessing data analytics, banks can better understand customer behavior, personalize offerings, and make data-driven decisions to mitigate risks and optimize operations.

What are the positive effects of digital banking? ›

Digital banking has empowered banks to harness valuable customer data, enabling them to gain deeper insights into consumer behavior and preferences. By leveraging advanced analytics and machine learning algorithms, banks can offer personalized financial services tailored to individual customer needs.

What is the future of digital banking in 2030? ›

Successful banks of 2030 will master data-driven customer experience across channels, underpinned by artificial intelligence and robotic automation. Consumers are becoming far more aware of the value of their personal data and the importance of keeping it safe and secure.

What are the cons of digital banking? ›

The main disadvantage of e-banking is that it can be less convenient for customers who are used to carrying out their finances in person. For example, if you want to make a payment online, you may have to wait longer than usual because your bank needs time to transfer the money from your account into theirs.

What will happen if bank collapse? ›

In most cases, the FDIC will try to find another banking institution to acquire the failed bank. If that happens, customers' accounts will simply transfer over to the new bank. You will get information about the transition, and you will likely get new debit cards and checks (if applicable).

What will replace banks? ›

Fintech is changing the game in banking with its innovative solutions that are easy to access and cost-effective. Traditional banks are realizing the need to catch up with digital trends, especially after recent crises. Their old-fashioned business models aren't equipped for today's fast-paced digital world.

Will money still exist in the future? ›

The future of money is expected to be heavily influenced by technology. Predictions include the rise of cashless societies, the growth of cryptocurrencies, the continued adoption of digital currencies, and the potential offering of a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) by governments.

What is the next big thing in banking? ›

Like digital, the Age of AI is likely to have a transformative impact on the industry, affecting roles in virtually every part of the bank. Not only is the rapid adoption of gen AI the most important trend for banks in 2024—it's also shaping the other nine trends.

What will banking look like in 2025? ›

By 2025, Alan McIntyre, senior managing director for banking at Accenture, expects payments to move completely away from cards and phones toward wearables and biometrics. “Whether it is tapping a ring that you wear or facial recognition, the payment will become more seamless,” he said.

How digitization is shaping the future of banking? ›

Digitization has enabled banks to leverage the power of data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) to make better business decisions and offer personalized services to customers.

Why do we need digital banking? ›

Digital banking provides services such as setting up a bank account, transferring funds, and making withdrawals. Moving to the online space allows you to save money on opening bank branches. Most tasks are automated. You no longer need to store all customer data in the office.

Is digital banking good or bad? ›

The lack of overhead gives internet banks advantages over traditional banks, including fewer or lower fees and accounts with higher APYs. Internet banks lack personal relationships, no proprietary ATMs, and more limited services.

What is the conclusion of digital banking? ›

Conclusion. Digital banking offers a convenient and efficient alternative to traditional banking methods. With the ability to access banking services remotely through websites and mobile applications, users can perform a wide range of tasks, such as transferring money, paying bills, and generating bank statements.

Why are people switching to digital banks? ›

Not only do digital banks allow users to make account deposits and transfers remotely; but they also provide them with the opportunity to more easily apply for loans and access personalized money management services.

Is digital currency the future of money? ›

Digital money has the potential to transform the financial sector. Emerging markets and lower-income countries stand to gain the most from this dramatic shift.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Errol Quitzon

Last Updated:

Views: 6023

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (79 voted)

Reviews: 94% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Errol Quitzon

Birthday: 1993-04-02

Address: 70604 Haley Lane, Port Weldonside, TN 99233-0942

Phone: +9665282866296

Job: Product Retail Agent

Hobby: Computer programming, Horseback riding, Hooping, Dance, Ice skating, Backpacking, Rafting

Introduction: My name is Errol Quitzon, I am a fair, cute, fancy, clean, attractive, sparkling, kind person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.