COVID-19 Spurs Preference for Online Banking in China amidst Wave of Bank Branch Closures

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Social distancing and lockdown measures introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic have had a sizeable impact on the banking sector in China, driving a rise in the use of online banking services during a wave of closures of bricks-and-mortar branches.

A recent survey conducted by Rong360 found that 37.69% of respondents had “increased the frequency of usage of online banking services by a large amount” as a result of COVID-19, while another 47.04% indicated that they had increased their usage by a modest amount.

91.59% of respondents born in the 1980’s indicated that they had increased their usage of online banking services in the wake of COVID-19, while for people born in the 1960’s the figure was 75%, for people born in the 1970’s it was 79.31%, and for the 90’s cohort it was 85.9%.

93.15% of respondents said that they had used mobile banking for account transfers, remittances or account inquiries, while 35.83% said that they had used mobile banking for wealth management purposes.

Data from the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) further points to ongoing closures of physical banking premises. The period from 2019 to 2020 saw the closure of over 6296 commercial bank branches in China, with 2790 such closures in 2020 alone.

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