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How Covid Changed Consumer Banking and Credit Card Use

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It's been more than a year since Covid-19 restrictions were put in place around the world and while consumer spending habits have been scrutinized, one overlooked area has been consumer banking behavior.

Financial firm FIS investigated how the pandemic has impacted how consumers bank and use credit and unearthed some shifts in behavior. FIS head of next generation banking Andrew Beatty joined CNBC's "Trading Nation" to share the results.

"We did a survey that really focused on some of the differences that we're seeing in some of the events. Obviously the move to digital banking has been accelerated as a result of the pandemic, absolutely no doubt about it. Consumers have been looking for those that drive digital banking best," Beatty said Thursday.

That emphasis on digital gives context to banking preferences in the past year. Thirty-seven percent of those surveyed began a new banking relationship with a major national or global bank in the past 12 months, according to FIS – those firms have a well-established online portal. Eighteen percent opened an account with an online-only direct bank.

"We're [also] seeing activity that we were a little bit surprised about because one in five Americans were opening accounts last year," Beatty said.

Consumers may have been opening bank accounts, but credit card usage fell sharply. One generation accounted for the bulk, says Beatty.

"I would say the Gen Zs were really behind that. There was some dramatic dips in what we saw for credit card ownership… 31% this time last year didn't have a credit card in that Gen Z category and now it's 55% and that's pretty significant, absolutely," he said.

Across the age groups, 14% were non-credit card holders last April. That rose to 21% this year.

Financials firms should adapt to those shifts in behavior, specifically for Gen Z, says Beatty. Payments innovation such as 'buy now, pay later' could bridge the credit gap for the younger generation who shirk traditional credit cards.

"Some of the introductions of strategies around 'buy now, pay later' [are] really exciting -- just a reinvention of lending, reinvention of credit. And I think that generation is going to take advantage of it. I think what we need to focus on though is how do we make it easier for them, not easier to get credit but accessible in the sense [if] they need it," said Beatty.

FIS predicts 'buy now, pay later' will make up 4% of total global e-commerce transactions by 2024. In the U.S., FIS estimates it will account for 5% of transactions by 2024, up from current 2% market share.

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