By Roy Urrico
What is the pandemic’s impact on current and future cybersecurity budgets and consumer banking habits? A pair of recent surveys shows some positive news for wary fintechs and financial institutions.
New York City-based cybersecurity firm HolistiCyber in its survey, “What Are Security Professionals Focusing on During COVID-19,” found professionals overwhelmingly believe COVID-19 will not negatively impact cybersecurity budgets. Survey participants included HolistiCyber customers across 13 industries, including finance/banking/investment (33%), technology (10%) and healthcare/pharmaceuticals (7%).
Looking at the numbers: When asked, “Do you anticipate an increase or a decrease in your cyber budget due to COVID-19?,” 45% of respondents believe cybersecurity budgets will not change as a result of the COVID-19 situation, and 31.4% anticipate an increase. Almost a quarter of them (23.5%) expect decrease. Overall, these figures indicate that more than 76% of respondents who expect either no change or a rise in cybersecurity budgets.
While budgets might not be increasing, they are getting re-prioritized. The survey categorized the security areas as business continuity/disaster recovery, remote security policy, protecting the supply chain, cloud security, overall production/optimization of current tools, incident responses, and overall cyber defense strategy. Within those groupings survey respondents expect the highest increases going to business continuity and remote security policy (both 76%), which parallels usage of robust work-from-home programs. The biggest decrease expected in budgets affects protection of the supply chain (10%), which also recorded the largest “no change” percentage (63%).
When it comes to cybersecurity vendors, over 75% of the respondents do not anticipate a change in the provider numbers.
“COVID-19 has changed how business is conducted; however, our findings note that it will not deprioritize cybersecurity initiatives or budgets,” said Ran Shahor, CEO of HolistiCyber. “Regardless of the virus, organizations across all industries have to be vigilant about cyber-attacks, their preparedness for them and how to keep their business continuity programs intact.”
A separate consumer survey commissioned by fintech and marketing provider Austin, Texas-based Kasasa revealed how consumer plans for banking will unfold in the next 30 days or so as the pandemic continues. The July 2020 study, gathered online by the Harris Poll from 1,045 U.S. adults, revealed 61% of Americans said they would feel comfortable walking into the branch lobby of a financial institution this month.
During August more than 1 in 5 Americans also said they plan to open a savings or checking account, apply for a credit card (19%); and consolidate existing debt and/or credit cards (10%).
“Right now, it’s mission-critical to understand the pandemic’s effect on consumer banking,” said Gabe Krajicek, CEO of Kasasa. “As our study shows, consumer behaviors are changing, making it today’s priority – today – that local institutions adapt to better support their account holders and offer financial guidance. When you think about all the community financial institution leaders dealing with an influx of deposits, you have got to wonder why their reaction has not shifted, as well.”
When first implementing social distancing measures, credit unions and banks prioritized providing a digital experience to help individuals continue business as usual. While this latest Kasasa research shows a majority of consumers now comfortable visiting a credit union or bank in person, digital banking still represents a pressing need.
Credit unions and community banks must continue to enhance their online presence and improve the digital user experience. In a March Kasasa poll 79% of consumers revealed a complete digital presence as an important factor when picking a financial institution. Additionally, research found once consumers go digital, they might never return due to the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak. According to Mastercard, the rebound of “card not present” transactions has been more resilient than “card present” transactions.
Kasasa’s findings reiterate the necessity of financial services even as the coronavirus crisis continues. “Consumers will always have financial needs, and they’ll continue to turn to their financial institutions for support,” said Krajicek. “Now more than ever, it is important for community banks and credit unions to continue serving their communities by meeting them where they are, both in person and on device screens.”