Day-to-day money management: Why are the French increasingly turning to mobile technology?

Societe Generale conducted a survey* on day-to-day money management with the help of OpinionWay to analyse new French attitudes on managing their budget in a context of mobile consumer behaviour and the increasing use of digital technology in the banking sector.

Key figures

  • 88% of French people say that they are fairly well aware of their bank account balance

  • Today, 14% of French people mainly check their account balance from their smartphone or tablet computer

  • Applications for viewing account balances are among the top 3 applications used every morning

  • Banking applications provide peace of mind and convenience for more than 8 out of 10 mobile Internet users

  • 49% of French people feel a closer link with their bank when they use a mobile app

The main lessons

  • More and more French are adopting connected consumer behaviours when it comes to their bank account and money management. As such, viewing account statements online has replaced more traditional methods.
  • People between the ages of 25 and 34 and executives are now the main users of these services and they act as tech-savvy mobile usage opinion leaders. As a result, a further increase in the use of budget management applications can be expected, with the continuing growth in smartphone and tablet computer ownership rates.
  • Using a budget management application is an activity that captivates users and has proven to be very beneficial for the image of the banking sector. It gives users a feeling of simplicity, time saving, and confidence that reflects positively on the banking relationship.

Money management, a daily concern for most French people

The French are paying attention to their budgets against a backdrop of perennial strain on purchasing power. In fact, a major concern for most French people is knowing what their bank balance is: nearly 9 out of 10 French people (88%) say they have a fairly good idea of the state of their finances. Women, people over the age of 50 and working class consumers are the most aware of their bank account balance. Conversely, people aged 35-49 and high-income socio-occupational categories pay the least attention as their level of income does not require the same amount of monitoring.

In response to this stressful situation, the French are employing several methods to closely control their spending. In fact, the great majority of French people set spending thresholds focused mainly on shopping (74%) and leisure and entertainment (69%). Careful consumers also attach importance to checking their bank accounts daily. This behaviour is more prevalent among heads of large households and people with fewer opportunities. The most carefree are people under the age of 35.

La gestion de l’argent, un souci quotidien

The consumption of banking data has become broadly electronic

The French mostly consume bank data via their online accounts. 81% of them use online services.

For 44% of smart phone or tablet computer users, viewing bank account balances online takes place primarily at home; 17% do so when making online purchases, 15% check their balances when travelling and 11% do so when they make a purchase at a brick-and-mortar store.

The exploding number of smartphones and tablet computers has resulted in new practices among the French people who own them. Among the first things they do in the morning using their devices, checking e-mail (61%) is well ahead of reading the news (26%), viewing bank account balances (23%), getting the weather forecast (21%) and checking social networks (20%).

Mobile technology, a new application space for banks, linking simplicity and confidence

Budget management applications have met with the unanimous approval of the French people who use them. They are regarded as useful and are not relegated to the status of gadget!

Using a mobile app for budget management finds favour among a quarter of French people aged 25 to 34 and 30% of executives. For some of them, this is something of a particularly regular practice: 7% of the 25-to-34 age bracket say they open their budget management application nearly every day while the percentage stands at 13% among executives.

These applications are having a very positive impact on the people who use them, both in terms of confidence in their budget and confidence in their bank. The French feel reassured about their real-time budget (88%) when they use a budget management application. They feel that they are saving time (85%) and that their lives are easier (84%) while at the same time they have a sense that their interaction with their banks is facilitated (83%). In addition, this change in the image of budget management takes precedence over the actual effectiveness of these applications in avoiding overdrawn accounts (52%) or saving more money (47%).

As a result, the perception of the bank itself is improved due to the simplicity and the sense of freedom that emerges from the use of these apps: 49% report that they feel closer to their bank when they use them. The perception of the banker as a service provider willing to listen to their needs is particularly strong among people under the age of 35 (30% compared to 24% of the French population). This generation is mobile in every respect and checks their bank balance from their tablet computers and smartphone far more often than others.

*Survey methodology: This survey was conducted on a sample of 1,051 people representative of the French population aged 18 or over using Quota sampling with stratification according to gender, age, socio-occupational category, type of conurbation and region of residence. The sample was interviewed online using the Computer-assisted web interviewing (CAWI) Internet surveying technique. The interviews were conducted on 8 and 9 April 2015.