Digital Channels Dominate How Canadians Bank

32% of Canadians' financial transactions are done with a mobile device, which is expected to increase to 41% in five years.

New technologies are rapidly changing the way Canadians bank as more than three-quarters of Canadians (76%) use digital channels to conduct most of their banking transactions, up from 68% two years ago.

This is among the many findings in How Canadians Bank, a recent survey of 4,000 Canadians commissioned by the Canadian Bankers Association (CBA).

“Banking is transforming at a record pace, bringing innovation and new potential to empower people’s lives in a digital world,” said Neil Parmenter, President and CEO, CBA. “Canadians clearly value convenience through technology and banks in Canada are meeting the evolving preferences of their customers by developing new digital options that make banking secure, convenient and accessible for all Canadians.”

Technology is changing how Canadians bank, rapidly

As technology evolves, customers’ digital expectations are rising. This is the leading catalyst for continued innovation as banks in Canada look for new, more convenient ways for Canadians to access their banking safely and securely. Indeed, Canadians across all generations and income groups value the convenience of tech-driven banking options and feel better served as a result.

  • 91 per cent of Canadians believe that new technologies have made banking a lot more convenient.
  • 88 per cent of Canadians say their bank has improved service through technology, with that figure increasing to 98 per cent for Millennials, which is now the largest generation in Canada.
  • 88 per cent of Canadians trust their bank to offer secure digital banking services, and 85 per cent feel confident about modern banking technologies.
  • Looking ahead five years, Canadians say they expect to increase their use of the following top three technologies: Tap & Pay (45 per cent), e-Transfer (40 per cent) and mobile app (40 per cent).
91 per cent of Canadians believe that new technologies have made bank.

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Parmenter adds: “Banks in Canada have earned a strong reputation as pillars of stability, but they are also dynamic and continually anticipate and adapt to evolving customer preferences. Canadians place high trust in banks because they have delivered convenience through technology for decades – and always with a focus on security and privacy. The focus on trusted innovation will continue and sharpen as customers’ digital demands increase not only in banking, but in all aspects of their lives.”

Online banking is now the most common way Canadians bank

As banking technologies have come to the forefront, online banking has cemented its position as the most common form of banking for most Canadians.

  • 88 per cent of Canadians reported using online banking in the last year.
  • 53 per cent of Canadians say that online banking is now their most common banking method – 30 per cent higher than mobile app-based banking, the second ranked method.
  • Two-thirds (65 per cent) of Canadians feel “very satisfied” with online banking.
  • Almost 40 per cent of Canadians are planning to increase their use of online banking, higher than any other channel.

Not surprisingly, the average Canadian visits their bank’s website three times as often as they do their branch. While differences emerge across generations, in-person banking is now the most common way to bank for only 12 per cent of Canadians and ABM at 10 per cent. This is a sharp change from CBA’s first public survey poll 16 years ago when 40 per cent said they banked mainly at an ABM, 30 per cent banked in branches and only 16 per cent did most of their banking online.

Mobile app-based banking continues to rise, led by Millennial uptake

Every Canadian with a smartphone now has a bank in their pocket. As an increasing number of Canadians carry smartphones, banks offer mobile banking and payment services and apps that allow customers to perform a variety of transactions through their mobile devices. As a result, the number of Canadians banking on the go continues to rise, especially among Millennial customers.

  • 56 per cent of Canadians reported using mobile banking in the last year, up considerably from 2016 and 2014 results, at 44 per cent and 31 per cent respectively.
  • 32 per cent of Canadians’ financial transactions are done with a mobile device, which is expected to increase to 41 per cent in five years.
  • More than one-third (36 per cent) of Millennials (Gen Y) say apps are their leading banking method, versus 23 per cent for all demographics groups, and more than half of Millennials (54 per cent) plan to increase its use of banking apps within five years.
  • 42 per cent of Canadians say they are “very satisfied” with app-based banking services, with satisfaction levels highest among Gen Y (54 per cent).

“Canadians today have unprecedented access to innovative, safe and secure channels to meet all aspects of their banking needs,” says Parmenter. “With a client-first focus, banks in Canada are building on their strong track record of adapting to what their customers want – and what they want, now more than ever, is access to banking services 24 hours a day, in real-time, from anywhere in the world, on a reliable and secure network.”

In-branch banking remains a valued method of conducting a wide variety of transactions 

Despite the steady growth and adoption of digital banking options, branches remain an important part of the banking mix in Canada. Personal interaction will continue to play an important role in our online and mobile-first world as branches evolve into advice and information centres with a human dimension.

  • More than two-thirds (67 per cent) of Canadians used in-branch banking in the last year, including 20 per cent who did so frequently.
  • 93 per cent of customers were satisfied with in-person banking.
  • However, only 12 per cent of Canadians say their most common form of banking is in-person, and 27 per cent of customers plan to decrease their bank branch visits.


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