Canada's BEST Online Banking Experiences

Canada's BEST Online Banking Experiences

RBC Royal Bank provides the best Online Banking Experience in Canada

What will you remember when you look back on a year you were told to keep living your life but to do it from home as much as possible? It will not be that you started to bank more online as many Canadians have been banking online for nearly 20 years now, but you may remember it as the last time you visited branch. To say the least, 2020 has been an interesting year as many Canadians we were forced to work from home and limit exposure to other Canadians. The COVID-19 pandemic meant we were home more, watching TV more and streaming data at record levels. The banks took notice. We will remember 2020 as the year the banks stepped up in marketing digital capabilities to Canadians despite the 20-year track record. Seniors were told how easy it was to bank using a computer while all other age groups were reminded, yet again, of the ease of use of banking using digital devices.

We have all heard of the saying "no two things are created equal" and our 12th edition of our annual Canadian Online Banking rankings demonstrates the validity of the saying within the Canadian online banking industry which is well represented by the main big banks, credit unions, independent banks and the non-branch virtual banks. Many would argue that a bill payment is a bill payment and how could we rank one firm over another. The truth is there is, and Canadians should take notice and that is where our results differ. Not every bill payment experience is the same and we dig into every nook and cranny to determine the best. The best firms consider the whole process from end to end including building interactive screens with supporting tools, provide seamless payee setup experiences and provide multiple, and customizable, payment options.

The Surviscor Canadian Online Banking review is the largest and most unbiased evaluation in North America and known for its uncompromised facts and truth about the true retail banking customer experiences and online journeys. The Surviscor Online Banking Review was officially introduced in 2008 and explores a typical desktop (or tablet-based) investor experience, including both the pre-login and secure login areas. Furthermore, our reviews are based on facts, and a lot of them, designed to evaluate the complete online banking journey through each retail consumer and typical online banking experience. They are not subjective based on a writer's personal or financial compensation driven opinion. They are not firm-sponsored or initiated. They are not limited to small sets of firms. All of the 'nots' are out there, and consumers should be careful of what they read. #ReaderBeware

The 2020 Online Banking edition has a new look from prior years. The new edition removes fees, service interaction data and mobile accessibility from the main categories and focuses on the pure components of a typical online banking experience. The 25 Canadian Banking firms were reviewed between October and November 2020 and evaluated based on 412 individual usage criteria based on 3,442 individual feature and functionality questions.


TOP INSIGHTS

The Big 5 Banks are simply better than all the rest

We should not be shocked that the Big 5 Banks all registered a score in the top 5 but we should be surprised based on the number of banking firms in Canada. Or should we? The Big 5 offer the fullest range of product and have the most customers which means they need to be competitive within their own group. And with clear digital leaders like RBC Royal Bank and CIBC leading the charge, the true winner in the Big 5 game is the actual customers who benefit from the need of each of these firms to keep up with the Joneses. #CatAndMouseGame

Credit Unions must consider a new course of action

The saying goes that "Rome wasn't built in a day" but the truth is if you are a credit union customer, you would hope it was built within 20 years as the MemberDirect online platform is knocking on that door. Coast Capital Savings has been successful outside of the traditional system and larger credit unions may soon pave their own path as the promises of changes are long-overdue and the reality is that the majority of Canadian credit union customers receive sub-par online banking experiences. It should be noted that we tried to get BC-based Envision Financial to participate this year as they are piloting the newest Central 1 online-based offering to replace the antiquated MemberDirect platform but they refused to respond. Hopefully, it fairs better than the mobile-based version that Alterna Bank launched earlier this year. #RomeWasWorthTheWait

Virtual Banks are not everything they are marketed as

How many times have you turned on your computer, tablet or phone and saw an ad and editorial piece on how great the newest non-branch, or virtual bank, is? That is the unfortunate reality of how social platforms and paid influencers can make a nuts and bolts offering appear to be the best thing since sliced bread. Oftentimes the firms are designed with lower fees and competitive rates to influence asset gathering to potentially sell a bigger financial item, like a mortgage, at a future date. The concept is solid but saying they offer the best online banking experience is simply not factual. In an environment of low to no interest rates, the value proposition decreases immensely, and Canadians should understand there is most likely a better experience out there. #ToEachTheirOwn


BEST OVERALL FIRMS - RBC Royal Bank and Scotiabank

Unlike our 2020 Mobile Banking rankings where we couldn't call a clear winner between CIBC and Tangerine, our in-depth analysis made it easy when declaring the best firm for online banking customer experience as RBC Royal Bank dominated. Not only did they dominate, but they also managed to score the largest ever percentage for any Canadian banking or discount brokerage firms over the past 15 years of performing like reviews scoring an unprecedented 99%. The score, known a peer curve score, represents the fact that RBC Royal Bank has everything and anything an online banking consumer can ask for, and is available, and they do better than other banks and credit unions. Scotiabank was once again the runner up with an impressive score of 93% and typically has been the runner up for the past 8 years with the exception of 2018, when they narrowly beat out RBC Royal Bank.

We are not known for big statements based on nominal facts, baseless claims or editorial bias like many other ranking sites. We are also not known for quick and dirty, advertisement-driven rankings favouring the firms who pay so when we declare a winner it is a big statement based on over 3,400 plus questions and 400 plus criteria points pegging each firm versus its peers under equal scrutiny and analyzed over 5 major customer experience categories over 22 sub-categories. Here is what we like and some areas we do not about each firm:

RBC ROYAL BANK

RBC Royal Bank has long dominated the online consumer banking space and continues to do so with its ever-changing online banking platform and continuous customer experience and product enhancements. This past year was no different as RBC Royal Bank continues to launch re-designed, customer centric, pages to match the newest design and the site has everything you would ever need, and in general terms, most of the features and functionality are considered best of breed. #TheCatsMeow

What We Like:

  • Intuitive and all-encompassing design experience
  • Application process with comparison and selection tools
  • Large amount of interactive educational content
  • Strong account information with real-time analysis
  • The only Canadian big bank to not give up on email-based correspondence

What We Do Not Like:

  • Below average user customization options

SCOTIABANK

It is ironic that Scotiabank's discount banking arm Tangerine outperforms its corporate big bank, but Tangerine has been at the top of our mobile banking rankings since their inception in 2013, before they had to fully answer to the boss. Like CIBC, Tangerine has sat at the top of Canadian mobile banking industry right from the inception of industry platforms and despite modest category and sub-category honours (1 of each), they perform well in most of the 300-plus criteria we look at. It should be noted that we are not a big fan of the most recent design changes as they affect the usability and availability of information, but we are not designed to produce subjective results. The facts are the facts. #ObjectiveFacts

What We Like:

  • Newly designed public site with strong interactive features
  • Availability of digital-based account management
  • Strong investment transactional process for GIC's and mutual funds
  • Strong integrated platform with other retail business lines

What We Do Not Like:

  • Absence of e-contact methods forcing visitors to correspond via social media channels or by phone
  • Below average Interac email money transfer experience

BEST CREDIT UNION - Coast Capital Savings (#7 Overall)

Vancouver-based Coast Capital Savings provides the best online banking experience amongst Canadian credit unions. The differentiation between Surviscor reviews and all other ranking that claim to cover the Canadian banking industry is that Surviscor is the only ranking firm that includes credit unions in its public-facing reviews and evaluates them alongside the big banks and most Canadian banking firms.

The online banking experience honour allows to Coast Capital Savings to boast a clean sweep as we recently named them the top mobile banking credit union in Canada. The impressive fact is that they continue to pave their own development path by not relying on the traditional digital platforms offered by Central 1, which is typically used by most Canadian credit unions. The platform does not produce many category or sub-category honours but does boast the honour of being the top ranked overall banking firm in the User Experience category. #MembersComeFirst

What We Like:

  • Easy to understand and use public and secure site design
  • Robust account analysis tool that compliments clear and concise account information
  • Ability for members to save their favourite transactions for future use
  • New - Loan application process

What We Do Not Like:

  • Platform lacks many of the industry's account resources
  • Lack of non-traditional banking transactions

BEST 5 Canadian Online Banking Experiences:

Online Experience RankBanking FirmExperience Score
T-1 RBC Royal Bank 99 %
T-1Scotiabank93 %
3CIBC89 %
4BMO Bank of Montreal87 %
5TD Canada Trust85 %

WORST 5 Canadian Online Banking Experiences:

Online Experience RankBanking FirmExperience Score
21Alterna Bank56 %
22PC Financial53%
23EQ Bank48 %
24Laurentian Bank of Canada43 %
25Manulife Bank41 %

Full Results Table - All Firms


The BEST and WORST firms by CATEGORY

All Surviscor scorCard reviews are comprised of several hundred individual experience criteria that are then grouped into sub-categories and ultimately into the larger categories to round-out the analysis. Let's take look at how Canadian banking firms performed in each category by not only focusing on the two best firms in each category but identifying the bottom 5 firms who are clearly missing the mark and should be held accountable by Canadian online banking customers.


The Best and Worst Firms for Online Initial Experience

The Best and Worst Firms for Online User Experience

The Best and Worst Firms for Online Account Experience

The Best and Worst Firms for Online Transactional Experience

The Best and Worst Firms for Online Relationship Resources


The BEST and WORST Online INITIAL EXPERIENCES

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the importance of the non-secure, public sites, and luckily for most firms, they had introduced new sites within the past few years. For those who have not, mainly credit unions, the task is difficult under the new world as workflows have been disrupted. The firms view the non-secure public site as a true sales and marketing opportunity and use the platform to tell the firm story and provide the all-important onboarding process for prospective customers. Progressive firms continue to improve the account opening process, which has always been a differentiator for virtual banks, as it has fast become an important non-contact process for increasing share of wallet through new customers.

The Online Banking Initial Experience category is the longest running category in in our banking reviews and audits the pre-login experience by benchmarking the features and functionalities offered to consumers prior to entering the platform as a customer. Leading firms allow visitors to establish a relationship through online account opening capabilities, ensure multiple service arrangements are present and educate prospective, and possibly existing, customers with 'free' online resources.

The BEST Firms for Initial Experience:

RBC ROYAL BANK - #1

RBC Royal Bank is the leader due to a strong account opening process for all available products and various customer segments with supporting interactive selection tools to help the process. In addition, the site features un-matched educational support including a wide array of interactive videos and learning modules.

TD CANADA TRUST - #2

TD Canada Trust's success is based on its industry-leading corporate design and navigational structure that highlights the TDCT family of products and services as well as its industry-leading educational content.

The WORST Firms for Initial Experience - HSBC Canada, Motive Financial, EQ Bank, Manulife Bank and Laurentian Bank

There is no reason to go into a song and dance for firms who rank 21st through 25th respectively, especially in a category that cannot be blamed on backend banking system constraints. In the case of EQ Bank, its simple design leads to a lower score. The others have no alibi. #NoEffort

The saying goes "You never get a second chance to make a first impression" but in this case, firms may have multiple chances to reset the initial experience as consumers move around the internet at record speeds with the smallest of attributes grabbing their true and full attention. Although we commend the firms who are able make this a memorable visitor experience, we also warn consumers that the outside doesn't always indicate the level of user experience you will encounter within the secure customer site. Look for cues. If a firm does not promote the secure experience through demonstrations or tutorials, then most likely they are not proud of it. #DoYourHomework


The BEST and WORST Online USER EXPERIENCES

User experience, also referred to as UX, covers a broad range of factors that influence how it feels to use a digital banking platform. The challenge for financial services firms is balancing customer-driven usage and product needs with their internal artificial intelligence journey and profile requirements needed to cross-sell additional product. Yes, they are watching your every move. Yes, they are capturing keystrokes and mapping where you navigate and since they know what business they have already, don't be surprised that you are consistently being cross-sold additional products to increase the firms share of your wallet.

The overall user experience focuses in on four main buckets including the general design including navigation, the availability of user customization features, product availability and security protection features that are especially important to digital users. Sure, different users with identical experiences may see the experience through different coloured lenses but that does not excuse firms who clearly are missing the mark. Those firms are easy to point out and online banking customers should feel confident that they can find the ones who do it right. #Demand Excellence

The BEST Firms for User Experience

COAST CAPITAL SAVINGS - #1

Wow, a credit union winning a category award in a field of 25 online banking firms, including the Big 5. You do not see that every day. Coast Capital Savings new design has led to increased security features and the ability to allow customers a decent level of personalization.

TANGERINE - #2

Tangerine gets the nod for the next best firm for online user experience, as it is in the mobile banking review, due to its industry leading customization functionality that offer customers the ability to customize the use of its many account support features to better manage the account.

The WORST Firms - ATB Financial, Servus Credit Union, EQ Bank, Laurentian Bank and Manulife Bank

Again, there is no reason to say anything further about firms who rank 21st through 25th respectively. Outside of EQ Bank, who has little products to offer, the firms are mostly using designs built around the time the internet became mainstream which should be a signal to you about your beloved firm. We will cut Servus Credit Union some slack as they are playing with half a deck of cards. #ItsYourMoney


The BEST and WORST Online ACCOUNT EXPERIENCES

The genesis of internet banking was based on providing customers access to account-related information and activity so they could avoid branch visits and/or phone calls in a world when cheques were a common method of payment and debit cards were used to take out cash. Today's banking environment could not be more different and the need for advanced features and functionality supporting the base account information has never been more important.

Like we noticed in our mobile banking review, too many non-big banks are missing the mark here and most likely are using the excuse that its customers only want the basics. We could not disagree more, and we will not agree to disagree. Why so adamant? Online banking customers should respect their own money more and demand excellence in the account information experience, including in-depth account information along with analytics and online account management tools and services.

The BEST Firms for Account Experience:

RBC ROYAL BANK - #1

RBC ROYAL BANK is royalty when it comes to a compete online account information experience. providing customers with a large amount of data and the ability to manipulate the data as needed through intelligent choices as well as account analytics and account documentation. In addition, RBC Royal Bank provides customers with the ability to easily expand into new products or accounts and offers an auto-saving account based on debit card usage.

SCOTIABANK - #2

Scotiabank is our runner-up for account information experience due to its industry-leading online account management services. The design may be old and in need of a refresh, but the truth is that is still packs a punch and successfully integrates a complete Scotiabank family of retain accounts and services.

The WORST Firms for Account Experience - PC Financial, Alterna Bank, Manulife Bank, Laurentian Bank and EQ Bank

By now you should know the drill if a firm ranks 21st through 25th. In the case of PC Financial and EQ Bank, they do not stand a chance in this category with their limited product offering. For the others, there are really no excuses and we urge you to reflect on your choices if any of these firms happen to be a firm that you trust with your hard-earned money. #NoExcuses



The BEST and WORST Online TRANSACTIONAL EXPERIENCES

As was the case with account information, transactional capabilities came to fruition early in the online banking lifecycle. Like we pointed out in the introduction, some will argue that a bill payment is a bill payment, no matter who you bank with or transferring money between accounts is the same. Once again, we are here to tell you that those poorly ranked firms are providing fake news. There is a difference, and again its based-on experience and some clearly provide a better experience.

The Transactional Experience category audits all money movement capabilities. To win this category a firm needs to excel at the end-to-end process of paying a bill or transferring funds through internal methods or via Interac-based functionality. Progressive firms have expanded into investment purchases, foreign exchange transfers, wiring money and the newest capability to order precious metals using online banking. We recommend you evaluate your banking partner's functionality and learn more about the other transactional capabilities that exist for you to manage your hard-earned money. #MakeYourMoneyFly

The BEST Firms for Transactional Experience:

RBC ROYAL BANK - #1

RBC Royal Bank provides a top 5 industry experience in each of the 5 sub-categories that make up the overall transactional experience, excelling in money transfers capabilities and providing customers with the ability to purchase investments.

BMO BANK of MONTREAL - #2

BMO Bank of Montreal earns its only runner-up category finish in the review by providing customers with a strong bill payment process, streamlined funds transfers and the ability to purchase investments using the online platform.

The WORST Firms for Transactional Experience - Laurentian Bank, Blueshore Financial, EQ Bank, PC Financial and Manulife Bank

General transactional capabilities including the overall customer experience of paying bills and moving money around, is the most telltale sign of online banking incompetency. Progressive firms expand the base experience with strong features surrounding the functionality. Lagging firms do not which could be a sign of what they think about their online customers. #DontCheapOut


The BEST and WORST Firms for Online RELATIONSHIP RESOURCES

Many firms debate the need to provide online banking customers with resources to enhance the standard mandate. We do not see the reason for any debates. Resources surrounding the online experience take the overall experience to the next level and should be considered as real differentiators between competing firms. The question is why would a firm feel that a customer would not like the ability to manage their cards online or be notified of irregular account activity or low balances in their accounts? To go even further, progressive firms offer account analytics through financial planning tools and provide educational content, especially in a new COVID-19 world. So why a debate?

Our analysis looks for firms who feel that providing online account services, account notifications, tools, calculators, and educational resources is essential to a great banking partnership. As was the case in our mobile banking review, the poorly ranked firms would make you believe that you, the customer, do not need, or even want, supporting resources that clearly help you manage the day-to-day without always having to sign-in to the online banking platform. #ResourcesRule

The BEST Firms for Relationship Resources:

RBC ROYAL BANK - #1

RBC Royal Bank has been a leader in online relationship resources for many years, providing customers with a wide array of supporting account services, industry-leading educational resources, and account related alerting capabilities. To be honest, the alerting is not pretty and could use an overhaul, but it does provide important options to manage an account.

CIBC - #2

CIBC is the runner up for online relationship resources which is consistent with its performance in the mobile banking review. CIBC, as its TV commercials boast, provide industry-leading alerting or notification capabilities including balances, card management and security alerts.

The WORST Firms for Relationship Resources - PC Financial, Motive Financial, EQ Bank, Manulife Bank and Laurentian Bank

As the review comes to an end, let's simply assume that these bottom firms ranked 21st through 25th respectively, do not understand the importance of resources because if they did, there is no logical reason why they wouldn't offer them. why customers. We have been known to forgive firms on a mobile device, but we cannot do the same here. #NoExcuses


The Each Review DISCLAIMER

Keep in mind that we are tough markers and have been for close to 15 years. Sure, we can be tough on many firms, but we also have no issues praising the ones who work hard to offer industry-leading products and services to deserving customers. Canadians work hard for their money and having a great banking partner should not be a privilege but rather a requirement. Banks and Credit Unions do very well by us, and we should hold them accountable to the highest standards of customer experience. Do not forget that you hold the cards, not them and there are a lot of firms to choose from. #DemandTheBest


FULL RESULTS - All Firms under Review

Online Experience RankBanking FirmExperience ScoreFull Company Review
1 RBC Royal Bank 99 % Detailed Company Review
2 Scotiabank 93 % Detailed Company Review
3 CIBC 89 % Detailed Company Review
4 BMO Bank of Montreal 87 % Detailed Company Review
5 TD Canada Trust 85 % Detailed Company Review
6 Desjardins 84 % Detailed Company Review
7 Coast Capital Savings 80 % Detailed Company Review
8 National Bank of Canada 78 % Detailed Company Review
9 Tangerine 75 % Detailed Company Review
10 Conexus Credit Union 71 % Detailed Company Review
11 Simplii Financial 68 % Detailed Company Review
T-12 motusbank 67 % Detailed Company Review
T-12 ATB Financial 67 % Detailed Company Review
T-12 Meridian Credit Union 67 % Detailed Company Review
15 HSBC Canada 66 % Detailed Company Review
T-16 Alterna Savings 61 % Detailed Company Review
T-16 Blueshore Financial 61 % Detailed Company Review
T-16 Vancity 61 % Detailed Company Review
19 Motive Financial 59 % Detailed Company Review
T-20 Servus Credit Union 56 % Detailed Company Review
T-20 Alterna Bank 56 % Detailed Company Review
22 PC Financial 53 % Detailed Company Review
23 EQ Bank 48 % Detailed Company Review
24 Laurentian Bank of Canada 43 % Detailed Company Review
25 Manulife Bank of Canada 41 % Detailed Company Review

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