Online banking tools can sway consumer choices

August 14, 2019

New research has found that consumers buying financial products can be swayed by subtle features of online calculators and search tools.

In a study, undertaken in collaboration with the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC), PRICE Lab used a behavioural experiment to show that the initial settings of a loan calculator and search tool altered the length of the loans selected by some consumers. The experiment involved asking a representative sample of consumers to choose a personal loan using an online calculator and search tool, just like those now widely used in online banking.

The findings demonstrate that small, unnoticed features of online environments can have a significant influence on our decisions and consumers may unknowingly make decisions which could cost them more in the long run based on how information is presented. These findings will help inform how the CCPC presents information in its product comparison tools so that consumers are making financial decisions, based on an independent presentation of their options.

PRICE Lab (Programme of Research Investigating Consumer Evaluations) is a collaborative behavioural economics research programme, undertaken by the ESRI. PRICE Lab uses lab-based and online experiments to study consumer decision making in key Irish markets.

The PRICE Lab Report is available on the ESRI website.

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