Dissecting Canadian Mobile Banking - Canada's BEST Mobile Banking Firms

Dissecting Canadian Mobile Banking - Canada's BEST Mobile Banking Firms

CIBC and Tangerine provide the best mobile banking experience in Canada

2020 will forever go down in history as the year that changed our known normal to our new reality. As COVID-19 changed our daily routines including the way we work, exercise, socialize, and generally interact with close friends and loved ones, it did not overly change the way we bank in Canada. Sure, branches closed for months and we now have reduced hours until the world gets a hold on the pandemic. But our bills did not go away nor did our need to bank.

What did happen was the banks started to market their non-branch relationship alternatives to everyone despite an existence that has dated back 10-20 years highlighting both online and mobile banking alternatives while promoting the notion that branch-like service levels would remain in tact. Many traditional branch visitors had to learn new ways to bank as even cash was a lost commodity for several months and the sad part was that even after 10 years of Canadian mobile banking capabilities, many Canadians quickly learned that their financial institutions were not as strong as they should be at mobile banking capabilities.

Virtual teaching has fast become a new trend due to COVID-19. It is not something new to Surviscor as we have been virtually teaching Canadians about digital banking for over 15 years, opening eyes to the best and worst firms. The virtual reviews allow Canadians to better evaluate existing and future banking relationships. The Surviscor Canadian Mobile Banking review is the largest and most unbiased evaluation in North America, known for its uncompromised facts and truth about true retail banking customer experiences and mobile journey. Our reviews are based on facts, and a lot of them, not on subjective, and often firm-sponsored or limited sample size results that are all over the internet.

The Surviscor Mobile Banking Review was officially introduced in 2015 after a small review in 2013. The review explores a typical mobile device-based investor experience, including both the pre-login and login areas, that evaluates the mobile journey through each investor process and typical investor experience. The 24 Canadian Banking firms were reviewed between June and July 2020 and evaluated using over 400 individual usage criteria through almost 4000 objective questions per firm.


TOP INSIGHTS

The Big Banks and their discount affiliates are winning

Not every bank is built the same. Not every bank is as good as the next bank. But one thing that is once again abundantly clear is that most Canada's big banks provide the best mobile banking customer experience for Canadians. While we commend firms like CIBC, Scotiabank (and its affiliate Tangerine) and RBC Royal Bank for being several notches ahead of its peers, we do notice that BMO Bank of Montreal barely fits in the top 10 which should be concerning to its customers.

Credit Unions members should think twice

One easily recognized trend that has been clear for many years in Canada, and despite many promises of changes, most credit union customers receive sub-par mobile banking capabilities. The co-operative system is built on customer ownership and is known for its customer service levels but has shown a lack of co-operative leadership to produce customer-driven solutions that compete with big banks. The sad fact is that the promised and highly anticipated new mobile banking solution that is slated for many Canadian credit unions, was rolled out in 2019 and its pioneer firm Alterna Bank, that is owned by Alterna Savings credit union, failed to land in the top 20. However, there are always exceptions and the best credit union exception is Coast Capital Savings, a progressive BC-based firm that lands in the top 5 and ahead of three of Canada's big banks. Saskatchewan-based Conexus Credit Union is another credit union worth mentioning as it falls just outside the top 10. Our concern is that they could end up incorporating the new Central 1 (BC and Ontario's credit union central) mobile platform which currently would be bad news for its members as the test pilot firm Alterna Bank found out after launch.


BEST OVERALL FIRMS - CIBC and Tangerine

Our in-depth analysis failed to produce a clear winner in 2020 and since we do not like to make big statements based on nominal photo finishes or editorial bias, CIBC and Tangerine are our joint winners for providing the best mobile banking services to Canadian retail banking customers. Here is what we like and some areas we do not about each firm:

CIBC

It is no surprise CIBC is once again a leader in our mobile banking experience review as they were the pioneer in the digital space while the other firms scrambled to catch up. The impressive part is CIBC not only stormed out of the gates ahead of their peers, some 10 years ago, they continue to stay ahead entering the 2020's with one category honour and 6 sub-category honours. #ThePaceCar

What We Like:

  • Intuitive mobile platform design with supporting mobile-browser options
  • Clear and online-inclusive mobile navigational structure and options
  • Strong pre-login site with excellent account opening process
  • Customers can order foreign cash using mobile devices
  • Bill payment process provides customers with an above-average experience

What We Do Not Like:

  • Removal of e-contact methods forcing visitors to correspond via social media channels or by phone

TANGERINE

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:

  • Strong pre-login site with excellent account opening process
  • Availability of account notifications through Orange Alerts
  • Refer-A-Friend program with cash-back using personalized Orange keys
  • Ability to use mobile platform for account customization

What We Do Not Like:

  • Removal of e-contact methods forcing visitors to correspond via social media channels or by phone
  • Newest mobile navigational design to support industry leading functionality

BEST CREDIT UNION - Coast Capital Savings (#5 Overall)

The differentiation between Surviscor reviews and all other firms who 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. That being the case, it only makes sense to highlight the best credit union for mobile banking services in Canada, Coast Capital Savings.

Coast Capital Savings is a BC-based firm with a recent Canadian charter who paved its own development path in 2018 introducing a non-traditional credit union mobile banking platform is proving to be a great decision as they pulled away from their credit union peers. The platform does not produce any category or sub-category honours but offers its members a well-rounded mobile banking experience. #MemberStrong

What We Like:

  • Informative account analysis tool that compliments clear and concise account information
  • Login process with supporting security features
  • Ability for members to save their favourite transactions for future use

What We Do Not Like:

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

BEST 5 Canadian Mobile Banking Experiences:

Mobile Experience Rank Banking Firm Experience Score
T-1 CIBC 90 %
T-1 Tangerine 90 %
3 RBC Royal Bank 87 %
4 Scotiabank 81 %
5 Coast Capital Savings 78 %

WORST 5 Canadian Mobile Banking Experiences:

Mobile Experience Rank Banking Firm Experience Score
20 Motive Financial 46 %
21 Alterna Bank 40%
22 Servus Credit Union 35 %
23 HSBC Canada 34 %
24 Laurentian Bank of Canada 17 %

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. The 2020 Mobile Banking Review audited 24 Canadian digital banking firms using 5 main categories to support the 300-plus individual criteria that formed 23 sub-categories.

Let's take look at how the current landscape performed in each category by not only focusing on the two best firms in each category but identifying the bottom 3 firms who are clearly missing the mark and should be held accountable by Canadian mobile-based banking customers.


The Best and Worst Firms for Mobile-based Initial Experience

The Best and Worst Firms for Mobile-based User Experience

The Best and Worst Firms for Mobile-based Account Experience

The Best and Worst Firms for Mobile-based Transactional Experience

The Best and Worst Firms for Mobile-based Relationship Resources


The BEST and WORST Mobile-based INITIAL EXPERIENCES

As the saying goes, "You never get a second chance to make a first impression." Many firms will try to convince you that accessing your banking relationship via a mobile device should be to simply do the 'quick and dirty' functions based on speed and convenience. If that was the case, why have the big banks separated development efforts between mobile and online and why do credit unions launch new platforms separately? The bottom line is that consumers should drive the experience they want to see, not the banking firms.

The Initial Experience category 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 mobile-based account opening capabilities, ensure multiple service arrangements are present and educate prospective, and possibly existing, customers with 'free' mobile-based resources.

The BEST Firms for Initial Experience:

CIBC - #1

CIBC is one of the few firms who has offered a complete pre-login environment since the platform was introduced with a leading account opening process, complete service interaction capabilities along with a strong navigational design. What we truly love about CIBC is its ability to market its offering, educate visitors, and allow a seamless experience to becoming a customer.

TANGERINE - #2

Tangerine, unlike CIBC, does not boast an industry-leading pre-login design but it does know how to guide a user through a clear account opening process with many supporting features and functionality but its best story before you login is its educational material and full disclosure of the overall experience of being a Tangerine customer.

The WORST Firms for Initial Experience - ATB Financial, HSBC and Laurentian Bank

There is no reason to go into a song and dance for firms who rank 22nd through 24th respectively in today's digital banking landscape. What we can say is If any of these firms happen to be a firm that you trust with your hard-earned money; we recommend you reflect on why. #ToEachTheirOwn

We would ask you to trust us when we tell you that many firms have hugely different philosophies regarding this category but its easy for you to do your own homework. We all have different needs and that is ok. If you prefer just a login screen to indicate what a firm is all about, great. If you prefer to use your mobile device to learn about a firm, great. Either way we commend the firms who put effort into providing options for all mobile banking consumers and question the effort of the worst firms. Do they really offer less because they feel that it is better for you? Or is it that they are just too lazy to take the platform to the next level? We would assume the latter.


The BEST and WORST Mobile-based USER EXPERIENCES

User experience, also referred to as UX, covers a broad range of factors that influence how it feels to use a mobile banking platform. The challenge for financial services firms is balancing customer-driven usage and product needs, maintaining a consistent look and feel between the mobile and online experiences while understanding that each customer shows up having used 100's of different mobile-based applications.

The overall user experience focuses in on four main buckets including the general design including navigation, the availability of user customization features, mobile-based 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 mobile banking customers should feel confident that are many firms who do it right. #Demand Excellence

The BEST Firms for User Experience

TD CANADA TRUST - #1

Not to take anything away from TD Canada Trust but in general, the industry is severely lacking when it comes to design. But when it comes to user experience, TD Canada Trust is our firm of choice. They offer customers an easy to understand navigational design that incorporates other areas of TD Canada Trust within the same design while offering easy access to important policies and security information features and functionality. One drawback of the mobile platform is its average customization options.

TANGERINE - #2

Tangerine gets the nod for the next best firm for user experience (despite a weaker design than most firms) mainly due to its industry leading customization functionality that offer customers the ability to customize the use of its many account support features to manage the overall use of the account using a mobile device.

The WORST Firms - Laurentian Bank, HSBC and Alterna Bank

Again, there is no reason to say anything further about firms who rank 22nd through 24th respectively in today's digital banking landscape. And again, what we can say is If any of these firms happen to be a firm that you trust with your hard-earned money; we recommend you reflect on why and in this case, know that there are better mobile-based user experiences out there. #ItsYourMoney


The BEST and WORST Mobile-based ACCOUNT EXPERIENCES

The primary reason mobile banking platforms were introduced years ago had to do with displaying account-related information and activity that allowed a 'quick and dirty' look to see what was going in a user account. The functionality, along with the various features that make up the functionality, has grown to new heights across the leading firms which has enabled mobile-based users to no longer require online capabilities. Be careful, we said leading firms.

Unfortunately, so many non-big bank firms are missing the mark here and most likely are using the excuse that its customers only want the nuts and bolts. Well, we would disagree and hopefully those firms offer a lifetime of WD-40 for the user to get through the rusty old functionality and lack of features supporting the experience.Of course, we are making a point with the WD-40 reference. Please do not try and spray your mobile device as it will not help.

Today, mobile banking customers should demand excellence in the areas under review, including a fast and efficient additional account opening process, multiple methods of contacting and communicating with the firm, in-depth account information along with analytics, mobile documents and mobile-based account management tools.

The BEST Firms for Account Experience:

TANGERINE - #1

Tangerine is our top choice for account information experience due to its depth of mobile-based information surrounding account transactions, general account information and documentation while providing customers with the ability to expand into new products or accounts with ease and offering industry-leading mobile-based account management capabilities.

SCOTIABANK - #2

Scotiabank is our runner-up for account information experience due to its industry-leading mobile-based account management services and account opening process for existing customers. Despite the #2 ranking, we would love to see Scotiabank improve the availability and general use of important account information and activity features.

The WORST Firms for Account Experience - Laurentian Bank, Servus Credit Union and Alterna Bank

By now you should know the drill when it comes to what we have to say about firms that rank 22nd through 24th respectively. As your mother most likely tried to teach you and as the popular saying goes, "if you have nothing good to say, then its best to say nothing". But please take our silence as a clue to reflect on your choices if any of these firms happen to be a firm that you trust with your hard-earned money. #NothingGoodToSay



The BEST and WORST Mobile-based TRANSACTIONAL EXPERIENCES

As was the case with account information, transactional capabilities came to fruition early in the mobile-based lifecycle. Despite a somewhat slow rolled-out approach over years for a lot of firms, most firms now offer the same transactional capabilities. That is where the basic discussion stops as you are learning that Surviscor does not accept mediocrity and too many firms shoot for basic and usually do not even reach mediocrity.

One could 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. And then there is email money transfers where you are led to believe that your banking partner keeps rolling out new features like automatic government subsidy CERB direct deposits to help you through COVID-19. The functionality is run by Interac and all firms use Interac for those services and if a firm is willing to pay, you will get the functionality.

The Transactional Experience category audits all mobile-based money movement capabilities mentioned above as well as reviews other types of transactions not available at all firms including investment, and foreign exchanges transactions, wiring money, the use of mobile wallets, and precious metal transactional experiences. We recommend you evaluate your banking partner's functionality and learn about the other transactional capabilities that exist for you to manage your hard-earned money.#DemandMore

The BEST Firms for Transactional Experience:

RBC ROYAL BANK - #1

To win this category a firm needs to excel at the whole aspect of a bill payment and money transfer experience. RBC Royal Bank is now the leader in Transactional Experience after its continued improvements to the overall customer experience with an easy to use design and great supporting features surrounding the steps and tasks a user performs around a standard industry functionality.

NATIONAL BANK - #2

National Bank takes a back seat to RBC Royal Bank, but its transactional experience is excellent and pinnacles with Interac Money Movement capabilities. The National Bank drawback is its lack of 'Other Transactions' but the core transactional services are nicely covered for its customers.

The WORST Firms for Transactional Experience - Laurentian Bank, HSBC and Servus Credit Union

Transactional capabilities, the overall customer experience of paying bills, moving money around and investing, is the most telltale sign of mobile banking incompetency if a firm ranks outside of the top 15 because the differentiation between being top 5 or bottom 5 is all about the features surrounding the functionality. It is simple. Good firms pay up. Poor firms do not. That should be a sign of what they think about mobile-based customers. #PayToPlay


The BEST and WORST Firms for Mobile-based RELATIONSHIP RESOURCES

You may be wondering what mobile-based relationship resources are. Do not feel bad if we caught you wondering as the best explanation of why you were wondering is easy. The reason is because there is an exceptionally good chance that your banking partner does not offer many, or any mobile-based relationship resources, which is very confusing and concerning to us. Why would firms feel that mobile users would not like the ability to be able to manage their debit or credit cards using their phone or check on their mortgages and the possibility of re-applying or doubling-up a payment or two? Or how about being able to manage account notifications using a phone to be alerted into balances, transactions, or fraudulent activity? They all sound like important capabilities to us, especially in a digital and new no-contact world.

The good news is that Surviscor is doing your homework for you, sourcing out firms who feel that providing mobile-based account services, account notifications, tools, calculators, and educational resources are essential parts of a banking partnership. Once again, and it is becoming a far too easy recurring excuse, the poorly ranked firms would make you believe that you, the customer, do not want those things on your mobile device. The truth is, the firms typically have such poor mobile designs and strategy that they cannot offer these now mobile banking staples. #ResourcesForSuccess

The BEST Firms for Relationship Resources:

SCOTIABANK - #1

Scotiabank customers have had a tough two years as the bank took them for granted in 2019 by launching a new mobile banking platform that basically stripped its customers of all the industry-leading resources it had built over the past 5 to 8 years. Whether it was a plan or customer complaints became too much to handle, which were very warranted, Scotiabank is now back on top in terms of actual mobile-based resources with its industry-leading InfoAlerts and the availability of mobile-based educational material.

CIBC - #2

CIBC customers should rarely be disappointed as its industry-leading design offers the ability to provide customers with many digital account services via its mobile platform, something that many firms cannot seem to figure out. CIBC also provides strong account alerting capabilities and a good level of educational material.

The WORST Firms for Relationship Resources - HSBC, Laurentian Bank and Servus Credit Union

We look different at the firms who rank 22nd through 24th respectively for Relationship Services as our general thoughts are that most firms do not offer enough coverage on mobile devices. So, we can give these firms a break this time but not too much of one as there are several firms rocking this category. #MobileDedication


The AFTERTHOUGHT

Alot to take in right? It sure is. 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 in the experiences we choose, in this case using our mobile devices to do our day-to-day banking and investing. #DoNotSettle


FULL RESULTS - All Firms under Review

Mobile Experience Rank Banking Firm Experience Score Full Company Review
T-1 CIBC 90 % Detailed Company Review
T-1 Tangerine 90 % Detailed Company Review
3 RBC Royal Bank 87 % Detailed Company Review
4 Scotiabank 81 % Detailed Company Review
5 Coast Capital Savings 78 % Detailed Company Review
6 National Bank of Canada 77 % Detailed Company Review
7 TD Canada Trust 76 % Detailed Company Review
8 Desjardins 70 % Detailed Company Review
9 Simplii Financial 69 % Detailed Company Review
10 BMO Bank of Montreal 66 % Detailed Company Review
11 Conexus Credit Union 65 % Detailed Company Review
12 Meridian Credit Union 59 % Detailed Company Review
13 motusbank 58 % Detailed Company Review
14 ATB Financial 55 % Detailed Company Review
15 Vancity 54 % Detailed Company Review
16 EQ Bank 52 % Detailed Company Review
T-17 Manulife Bank of Canada 49 % Detailed Company Review
T-17 Blueshore Financial 49 % Detailed Company Review
19 Alterna Savings 48 % Detailed Company Review
20 Motive Financial 46 % Detailed Company Review
21 Alterna Bank 40 % Detailed Company Review
22 Servus Credit Union 35 % Detailed Company Review
23 HSBC Canada 34 % Detailed Company Review
24 Laurentian Bank of Canada 17 % Detailed Company Review

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