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Are Jamaican Consumers Banking Online?

The Jamaican banking industry has experienced a period of disruption in the last 8 weeks because of the change in the way individuals are managing their finances. As a result of a decrease in movement and physical contact, the opening hours for banks are reduced and a large number of hours is spent in the safety of one’s home.

To encourage the use of online banking apps, many institutions have opted to craft persuasive messages which outline the benefits of conducting 24/7 transactions from home and access to account information in real time. Some financial institutions in the US are even offering tutorials to ease clients into the online arena.

Are you banking online?

The LAB surveyed 100 Jamaican consumers to understand their banking routine during the current health crisis. Interestingly, 71.6% insisted that they were banking online.

What kind of financial activities are individuals conducting online during the pandemic? 31% were paying bills online while 12% were transferring funds to another person’s account.

However, 25.5% noted that they were not banking online and 24% explained that they did not engage in any financial transactions online. If these numbers are surprising, then the 35.4% who confessed they had visited a bank in the last 6 weeks would stun you.

Why would anyone want to risk their personal safety and that of their family’s to enter a bank during these times? The reality of banking online with or without COVID-19 restrictions is that:

  1. some people are more comfortable banking face to face

  2. some people suffer from bouts of technophobia and are resistant to, and intimidated by, the online setting

  3. there are some transactions that can only be completed on-site.

The figure below outlines the transactions or visits that were conducted within various Jamaican banks between March 11th and April 17th 2020 by 35.4% of respondents.


Aunty Mary is 74 years old. As a retired teacher and a past single parent, she is as efficient and as organised as they come. She takes pride in her 1-hour walks in the morning and her devotion to a healthy plant-based diet with occasional trips to Mother’s and Island Grill.

She has always been responsible for her household’s finances and enjoys bi-weekly trips to the bank to pay bills and deposit cash.

Aunty Mary has seen ads promoting online banking and mobile banking apps. Her children have informed her of the ease in banking online. She has even been contacted by multiple CSRs encouraging her to sign up for online banking. She does not see herself as resistant to the change. Her preference is face-to-face interaction. Once banking in person is an option, she will always choose it.


Petergaye has 5 kids above the ages of 25 years. She has a little store to the front of her house where she sells bread, soda and cooked food to her neighbourhood. She has a good mind for business and is thinking about expanding her shop to include hair weaves and accessories.

Her oldest daughter signed her up for online banking to make Petergaye’s “life easier”. However, she has never personally banked online or used the mobile app. Whenever she needs to conduct a transaction, Petergaye makes her daughter do it. If her daughter is not around, Petergaye waits patiently until she returns or gives her requests to her daughter over the phone. Petergaye knows the bank is too tief and there are people waiting online to rob her. She doesn’t want to press the wrong button and send her money to the wrong account.


Ray is 40 years old. He has been following the COVID-19 news since December 2019 and is quite aware how the virus is spread and how to protect himself and his family. Ray also has a dream. He has been saving up for 2 years to purchase his own house. He even moved back home so that he can cut down his living expenses.

Then the coronavirus hit Jamaica. He was luckier than most as his job requires him to work from home. Now, instead of a decrease in his salary, he is actually earning more money during the pandemic.

Ray sees an opportunity to fast track his dreams. He calls the bank to begin the first steps to financing his mortgage and become a home owner. However, the CSR informs him that he must come into the bank so that he can complete the application. What should Ray do?


For advertisers, the challenge is, how do you create a call-to-action for online banking that speaks to Aunty Mary, Petergaye and Ray? Which mediums should be used to send these messages? Are our three customers on the same sites online? Watching the same T.V. shows or downloading the same mobile apps?

Financial institutions and advertisers need to get comfortable with the idea that some people prefer to bank online or will remain uncomfortable using technology for transactions. No financial institution is going to sway them if COIVD-19 circumstances and their close relatives cannot change their behaviour.

The 71.6% of individuals in the survey that bank online is an impressive number. Let’s focus on this group. What should be actively addressed are the mandatory on-site transactions that customers like Ray (who usually bank online) must conduct and consequently open themselves to contracting the virus. How are our banks digitizing these in-house services?

What can we do as advertisers to support our clients in updating their digital services and keeping the public aware of these changes as well as current online banking resources?

  • Let’s create a critical strategy which maps online consumption trends and peaks while we continue to offer creative solutions to support their current online services.

  • Reaffirm the ease and safety of online banking resources which are already available

When we understand the digital landscape more, we will be fully prepared to apply a strategy which effectively promotes customer engagement with the updated digital resources our clients plan to offload post COVID-19.

Read up more on how brands can make an impact during COVID-19 with our post Three Psycho-Effective Marketing Strategies during COVID-19.


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