The role of virtual space in ensuring 'fair access' to banking services –results of empirical research conducted in the Polish SME sector
The aim of this article is to present results of long-term empirical research on the changing behavior of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Poland in the context of spatial exclusion and spatial 'justice'. Between 2007 and 2015, the authors conducted cyclical research on the financial behavior of SMEs in Poland on large samples. The scope of research on traditional and virtual space covered mainly: the criteria for selecting a bank for current service and the use of various
... e use of various banking services in particular distribution channels. In the researched period, the percentage of indications to convenient location as the most important factor for selecting a bank dropped from 29% to 16%. In the entire period under research, the highest percentage of indications to convenient location as the most important factor for selecting a bank was recorded in the micro enterprises sector. The percentage of entrepreneurs' indications of fees and commissions as the most important factor in choosing a bank increase from 28% to 36%. Price parameters became the most important factor of bank selection in the SME sector. Virtual space was used primarily to distribute less complex banking services (checking the account balance and viewing the history of operations on the account, as well as to make transfers). In the case of more complex products, such as deposits or loans, traditional banking branches were preferred. In contrast to the results of the American research (Degryse & Ongena, 2002), in Poland there was no impact of the distance between the company and the bank branch on the loan utilization rates and the loan refusal rates. The research has shown that the virtual space equalizes the opportunities, facilitates business operations, contributes to a drop in prices and improvement in quality of the offered products and services, and renders the access to products and services fairer.