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Trust in tech soars during pandemic

  • 88% of Brits are now using technology more than they were before March 2020
  • Screentime soars 39% in 2020
  • 60% said greater trust in banking apps has made them more confident when it comes to managing their money


22 December 2020

Almost 90% of UK adults are now using technology more than they were before the global pandemic, according to a survey* by first direct.

Compared to the start of the year, we now typically spend more than a fifth (22%) of our waking hours on our smartphones and tablets.

The average UK adult now spends 3 hours and 25 minutes on their devices, compared to two hours and 27 minutes before the national lockdown in March – a 39% increase.


Positive benefits of screentime

Along with the increase in screentime this year, the research discovered almost three quarters of adults (71%) have found technology has helped them with things like staying connected to friends and family, shopping, and managing finances.

Since the pandemic, almost half (45%) of adults report viewing technology in a more positive way, with 61% of these acknowledging its convenience, and 55% saying it’s helped them to feel less restricted by lockdowns.


Top 10 activities people do more now via an app compared to pre-lockdown:

  1. Catching up with friends and family (45%)
  2. Keeping up with current affairs & news (39%)
  3. Using social media (32%)
  4. Streaming TV (31%)
  5. Listening to music (30%)
  6. Food shopping (29%)
  7. Emailing (27%)
  8. Exercising / Gaming (26%)
  9. Managing finances (24%)
  10. Being productive via apps e.g. lists, reminders, alarms (21%)

Chris Pitt, CEO of first direct, said: “Since March, we’ve all had to turn to technology more than ever and it’s encouraging see people are becoming more comfortable with it and more aware of the benefits it can bring.

“Staying connected while we’ve been kept apart has been a challenge for many of us, but tech has really helped combat this. It’s allowed us all to keep in touch with family and friends, but it’s really important to note that almost a third said it’s also helped with their mental health.

“A big focus of ours this year has been the well-being of our people while they’ve been working from home. We’ve been there for our customers all year, but we’ve also been focused on making sure our people have felt supported and looked after too. These include a programme of virtual activities for our people to be able to connect with each other, and increasing the number of qualified Mental Health First Aiders available for our people at any time.


Trust in financial tech

The study also found the percentage of people managing their finances digitally has soared this year. Before the global pandemic, more than a third (36%) had never used an app to manage their finances, whereas almost half of UK adults now do.

As a result, 60% of those who use banking apps now feel more confident when it comes to saving, spending and managing their money.

Chris added: “If there are some positives to come from the pandemic, one must be that more people are feeling more confident about their saving, spending and general management of money thanks to the capabilities and flexibility that tech brings.

“Using apps to look after our money is much more widespread in December than it was in January. It’s great to see how empowered tech can make people feel with their finances and our survey found that this is only set to continue.”


Top 5 most common activities now carried out on banking apps

  1. Checking balances (63%)
  2. Transferring money (62%)
  3. Paying bills (48%)
  4. Managing savings accounts (42%)
  5. Paying in cheques (25%)



*Survey of 2,000 British consumers carried out by One Poll on behalf of first direct bank.

For further information please email Ben Marquand at ben.marquand@firstdirect.com or call 0113 276 6700.

Or email rebecca.farnsworth@aberfield.com or lucy/bristow@aberfield.com or call 0113 8800 444.

Notes to Editors:

first direct provides mobile banking, online and telephone services to its 1.5m customers and offers a full range of personal banking products including its multi-award winning current account and mortgages. It’s been recognised as being a pioneer of amazing customer service by numerous independent third parties including The Competition and Markets Authority, Which?, Moneywise, Moneyfacts and Moneysavingexpert.com. As well as its Facebook page, first direct uses social media to engage with customers through LinkedIn, facebook and Twitter.