German banks haven't regained the trust of citizens after the 2008 financial crisis just yet. According to a recent survey by market research company YouGov, 58 percent of people say banks will continue to focus on their profits rather than customer needs.
Participants complained about one point above all: high fees. Over recent months, German banks have raised costs and started charging for checking accounts, while some have even gone so far as to charge for individual transactions such as online transfers and withdrawals. It's an attempt for banks to recover from the European Central Bank's zero interest rate policy, which has equated to revenue losses.
Such customer dissatisfaction could be a big opportunity for fintechs, or startups using new technology to compete in the financial marketplace against traditional institutions. Around 36 percent of participants said they'd be willing to give a fledgling fintech a chance if it offered lower fees. Number 26, a Berlin fintech which offers free banking via smartphone, has enjoyed considerable growth in Germany, particularly among young expats or foreigners who might otherwise have problems opening a checking account at traditional banks.
One in three Germans surveyed said they were still concerned about the security of online banking though. Only 5 percent of all Germans use their smartphones for banking, much less than in other European countries such as France (12 percent) and the United Kingdom (15 percent).