While Singapore and Hong Kong are seen as global epicenters for technology and finance, RFI Global said that Singapore has seen more rapid growth in the percentage of heavy digital users.

RFI Global said in a statement on Wednesday that its recent data revealed divergent patterns between heavy digital users and heavy traditional users in both Singapore and Hong Kong.

While the proportion of heavy digital users and heavy traditional users was largely similar in the two markets in the second half of 2018, it said Singapore has seen more rapid growth in the percentage of heavy digital users, reaching more than a third (35 percent) of the retail banking population as of the second half of 2022.

In contrast, it said Hong Kong’s growth in heavy digital users has been slower, with only a quarter of the population identified as heavy digital users in the second half of 2022.

The research also indicated that youth, especially in Singapore, are leading the nation’s digital banking revolution.

Almost 50 percent of Gen Z in Singapore prefer online banking, compared to 30 percent in Hong Kong.

The inclination towards traditional banking remains consistent across age groups in both regions, but Hong Kong still has a higher percentage of traditional users.

Meanwhile, with its advanced telecom infrastructure and widespread internet access, Singapore provides fertile ground for the continued growth of digital banking.

According to RFI Global, the Singaporean government has long played a pivotal role in promoting digital initiatives and nurturing a culture of innovation.

In contrast, Hong Kong’s regulatory framework has traditionally favored more conventional banking methods.

This distinction significantly shapes the trajectory of digital banking adoption in both vibrant economies.

RFI Global also noted that the evolution of banking in both Singapore and Hong Kong has witnessed a “tug-of-war” between digital and traditional channels, with customer loyalty hanging in the balance.

By examining the net promoter scores (NPS) of users in Singapore and Hong Kong, RFI Global discerns prevailing banking preferences.

It is noted that net promoter score (NPS) is a crucial metric that reflects customer satisfaction and loyalty.

In Singapore, RFI Global data indicated that heavy digital users are more satisfied with their main banks than traditional users, suggesting the success of digital channels.

Conversely, in Hong Kong, traditional banking resonates more with customers, as evidenced by higher NPS scores among heavy traditional users.

The contrasting NPS trends between Singapore and Hong Kong emphasize the need for banks to recognize and adapt to regional customer preferences.

Singapore leans towards digital banking, while traditional channels hold sway in Hong Kong.

This divergence underscores the importance of a tailored banking approach to cater to the unique needs of each market.

As the world rapidly transitions to digital platforms, RFI said the two prominent payment systems have emerged in Asia: PayNow in Singapore and the Faster Payment System (FPS) in Hong Kong.

It said both systems aim to simplify and expedite financial transactions, but their adoption and impact vary.

It is noted that the digital payment service in Singapore PayNow allows individuals and businesses to instantly send and receive money through electronic channels.

Users can transact using their mobile number, national registration identity card (NRIC) number, or unique entity number (UEN).

While offering seamless integration with existing banking services, the payment service is also supported by a comprehensive network of participating banks.

The service has widespread adoption due to its convenience. It also sees significant reduction in reliance on traditional payment methods like cash.

The payment service is also boosted by the adoption of digital channels among individuals and businesses.

As for FPS, the service is Hong Kong’s answer to real-time digital payments, facilitating instant transactions.

The service enables real-time fund transfers, and users can make payments using the recipient’s mobile phone number, email address, or the FPS identifier.

However, its adoption rate is slower compared to PayNow in Singapore.

The service is also influenced by the city’s regulatory landscape and a historical preference for traditional banking channels.

According to RFI Global, Singapore and Hong Kong have long been rivals in the world of finance and technology in the region.

In recent years, however, it said Singapore has gained an edge over Hong Kong to become the top financial center in Asia Pacific.

Amidst Hong Kong’s travel restrictions, political unrest, and differences in governance, it said competition between the two cities has intensified as they strive to establish themselves as the ‘leading global hub.’

As the digital revolution continues to reshape the banking industry, it said both Singapore and Hong Kong will need to navigate these diverging trends and cater to the preferences of their respective customer segments.

RFI Global was founded in Sydney in 2006 to provide financial intelligence for the Australian financial services market.

The platform serves 49 markets with a local presence in Sydney, Singapore, Dubai, London, Paris, Toronto, New York, and San Francisco.

Since its inception, RFI Global has provided tailored subscription-based insight and data solutions for local, regional and global financial services players.

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