Canadians twice as likely to trust a robot to perform open heart surgery than to open a bank account for them

People in Asia and the Middle East are more optimistic about the positive impact of technology and as a result more likely to place trust in new technologies compared to their western counterparts, a multinational survey from HSBC has found. Of note, just over half (56%) of Canadians say they believe that advances in technology will make the world a better place – the second least likely of all markets surveyed – compared 89% of respondents in China, and 85% in India.

This, according to HSBC's To Trust in Technology report, a new global study based on responses from 12,000 people from 11 countries and territories that explores the level of trust in biometric security, attitudes to radical new financial services, and what people really feel about entrusting our lives to robotic intelligence.

"With each new piece of technology the same fundamental question arises: can it be trusted? Price and availability matter, but nothing is adopted unless the intended user feels able to trust it," said Larry Tomei, Executive Vice President and Head of Retail Banking and Wealth Management, HSBC Bank Canada. "And while those in Canada may be more resistant to change than their eastern counterparts, the research also points to the huge potential of educating people on upcoming and existing technologies as Canadians are amongst the most likely to respond positively to education around biometrics – like touch and voice ID."

Key Findings for Canada:

  1. Getting touchy about tech: The accelerated adoption of fingerprint recognition, a widespread consumer technology, highlights the contrasting perspectives of east vs. west. The Chinese (40%) are the highest adopters of the technology, with India (31%), and the UAE (25%) second and third globally. At the other end of the scale, just 14% of people in Canada – the lowest across all markets surveyed – have used fingerprint technology to identify themselves. 
  2. Blink once for savings, blink twice for chequing? Two thirds of people globally think money transfers via brain signals will be available in the future. Further, 8% of people in France, 7% in Canada, and 5% in Germany say they think that technology enabling brain signals to transfer money will be available in the next year. In the East, 20% of people in India and 15% of people in China, and 13% in Singapore think that this technology will be available within the year.
  3. Technology-shmeckmology? Canada is one of the less positive nations towards innovation, with only 56% of respondents believing that advances in technology will make the world a better place (global average: 74%). In fact, uptake of smartphones is the lowest in study, with only 87% ownership. Conversely, respondents in Canada were among the most likely to put their trust in human to human relationships. Seventy-four per cent will trust a person until it is proven that he/she cannot be trusted. There is also a strong level of trust in the self – 80% of people trust themselves to make the right decisions.
  4. Siri, Alexa: what's my investment risk tolerance? China (44%) and India (38%) are the most likely globally to trust robo-advisors. In contrast, just 7% in Canada, 6% in Germany and 9% in the UK are likely to trust recommendations based on AI algorithms. Further, 36% of people in China would use a chatbot to receive money advice, compared with 8% in Canada, 6% in Germany and only 8% in UK.

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