Onboarding Gone Wrong

Financial service providers still aren’t getting onboarding right

People are changing how they work and live—more remote working, more services at a distance than ever before. This could be good news for providers of financial services who have invested so much in digital transformation and would want to spend less on local branches. Unfortunately, this shift has not been reflected in the Battle to Onboard, where abandonment of online applications has actually increased.


of consumers have abandoned an application in the last year.

In fact, our research revealed, that 68% of consumers have abandoned an application in 2021. This is up from 63% in our last report, in 2020. And it continues the unfortunate upward trend, that we have seen since 2019.

And it's getting worse

Another interesting finding is the correlation between abandonment rate and age. Our survey shows younger people (18-44 years) tend to have a higher likelihood to abandon the application process. Abandonment goes down with age. Research shows that many young people have less perseverance when it comes to tackling unexpected onboarding challenges. If an onboarding procedure doesn’t work the way they expected, they simply abandon and move on. Gen Z, now the frontline of customer acquisition, are the generation traditional providers should worry about going forward— Gen Z are not prepared to compromise.

They will demand choice without complexity, and simplicity without loss of security. 100% digital onboarding for these new customers is now a must and should be as simple as a social media login.

Abandonment rate & Age

Why are consumers abandoning applications?

Our research showed three main reasons for application abandonment:


Simply changed their mind


think the process took too long to complete


left because they were asked for too much personal information

Over a third of consumers have abandoned an application for a financial product because they did not have the right identity credentials—whether digital username-password or a document such as a passport. It’s therefore still important to offer a range of identity solutions. Consumers still demand a range of onboarding methods, even where digital ID is widely accepted. See detailed country view here.

By a mature digital identity scheme, we mean one that has stood the test of time and is well-used and accepted in that country. It’s tricky to quantify this exactly, but the European Commission (EC) has an index with many countries included

Differences across regions

Among Western, Northern, and Southern European respondents, those who quit the application process mostly did so because the process took too long to complete. In contrast, respondents from Eastern European countries did so because the process asked them to provide too much personal information, or they simply changed their mind about the application.

How long are applications taking?

The average time that an application process took was perceived by end-users to be around 15 min and 34 seconds long. This is down from 20 minutes from last year’s market research. Although there are perceived improvements in onboarding processes in terms of the time it takes to apply for a financial service since 2016, end-users still remain unsatisfied where “it took longer than expected” compared to Signicat’s market research in 2020.

% who believed application process took longer than expected

Over a quarter (27%) of end-users surveyed found that the onboarding process took longer than what they expected. This was particularly evident in France, Germany and Denmark where more than 30% of participants reported it taking longer than expected. Five of our surveyed countries came in at less than this time: The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Lithuania and Estonia.

% who believed application process took longer than expected across 14 markets

The younger generation were less satisfied with lengthy onboarding processes compared to the older demographics who might have adopted to “learned helplessness” which was a theme of last year’s report.

Clearly, financial service providers have made improvements in the onboarding processes and thereby reduced the actual onboarding time. However, there is no perfect correlation showing that countries with well established identity systems equals less time for onboarding and thus consumers are happier. Electronic identity schemes do not imply consumers are happy with onboarding processes across European markets.

% who believed application process took longer than expected according to age

Schedule a chat with an identity expert to learn how we can solve your onboarding challenges

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