Hong Kong leads the region with its preference for telephone banking rather than face-to-face contact for many types of transactions, an Asia-Pacific consumer survey has found. The survey by MasterCard International of almost 5,500 consumers - including more than 400 in the territory - found Hong Kong residents were less likely than those in other parts of the region to use the Internet for such transactions. The rising preference for the phone was accompanied by a lower preference from SAR residents for face-to-face transactions, the figures indicate. MasterCard International's Hong Kong country manager, Danny Cheung, attributed the result to Hong Kong's free domestic calls, cheap mobile rates and high level of phone use. 'You can see people walking on the street, riding the MTR, buses. They like to talk on the phone,' he said, adding busy lifestyles also contributed. However, 65 per cent of Hong Kong consumers surveyed still reported using face-to-face banking, although the figure was lower than the average of 74 per cent throughout the region. The figures did not include data on automatic teller machines. For making deposits, most Hong Kong people (71 per cent) preferred face-to-face transactions - close to the regional average of 69 per cent. Of 13 markets surveyed, Hong Kong was the leader in nominating the phone as the preferred method for complaining (53 per cent compared with an average of 36 per cent), reporting errors in statements (64 per cent against 38 per cent), checking balances (63 per cent against 42 per cent) and opening or closing fixed-deposit accounts (19 per cent against 12 per cent). The survey included Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand. Hong Kong was second from the top in wanting to use the phone to change account details (31 per cent against the average 19 per cent). The territory lagged in Internet use, with 14 per cent saying they accessed the Web often - lower than the average (17 per cent) and less than half as much as India (32 per cent).