Are you sure?

No loans, please!

The crisis that hit the world in 2008 has changed customers’ mindsets and financial habits, market research company GfK’s Retail Banking Monitor survey shows. This year’s research scrutinized customer behavior in 15 countries in Central and Eastern Europe, including Hungary.

Although the financial sector is still struggling with difficulties across the region, slightly positive market tendencies are about to shape up in the area, the research claims.

The proportion of those using retail banking services had grown to 80% by the end of 2011 in the CEE region. In Hungary, 83% of the adult population uses such services, and this number has changed little over the past few years.

“The increase of bank penetration is not primarily an infrastructural issue anymore, because Hungary is in the top league when it comes to the number of bank offices per 1,000 persons,” Albert Dunai, project head of the Retail Banking Monitor survey said.

In his opinion, it is now more of a question of financial culture and attitude towards banks, and these two factors will determine future development.

Take a closer look at how customers use banking products in Central and Eastern Europe, and you’ll find a correspondence between the spread of bank account usage and the increase of those using banking services. However, there is dynamic growth in the use of bankcards and internet banking services. In 2011, every second citizen in CEE used bankcard for their shopping.

The change in consumer habits and demands is clearly reflected by another GfK survey on bank-related advertisements. The market research company has been monitoring the effectiveness of bank ads since 2008. Data shows that while the popularity of these ads hasn’t significantly changed in the past four years, their mobilization effect has fallen back to half of what it was before the crisis, Dunai says.

This correlates with the findings of GfK’s Retail Banking Monitor research, namely that people show a decreased willingness to take out bank loans, Dunai explains.