News Column

Banks offer more smartphone apps

July 14, 2014



Smartphones promise to be the next big thing in consumer banking, holding the promise of everything from fewer trips to the local bank branch or ATM to the convenience of tap-and-go payments at retail outlets. But first, a number of hurdles still need to be overcome.

Jim Miller, J.D. Power's senior director of the banking practice for North America, says Canadian banks have been slightly slower than their U.S. counterparts in adopting popular features in their smartphone apps, such as depositing cheques with their phones, but they are gaining ground.

Tangerine, the former ING Direct Canada operations, and B.C. credit union Vancity, recently added the ability to deposit cheques by taking a picture of them using a smartphone's camera.

Miller, and others, expect there will be an even bigger jump in usage if the banks, merchants and telecom companies can figure out a better way for customers to make purchases with their smartphones by tapping a retail terminal at the counter.

However, the banks have been cautious because they don't want to see smartphones to get between them and their customers.

Juniper Research, a London-based company that monitors mobile commerce developments, estimates about 800 million people around the world used a smartphone to do banking this year and that is expected to jump to 1.75 billion by 2019.

Juniper also forecasts that within that time, mobile banking will overtake online banking, the preferred method for most consumers.

Juniper's findings are supported by other recent data, including a survey done in May and June for the Canadian Bankers Association.

Preliminary figures from a 2014 survey supplied to The Canadian Press found that web-enabled mobile devices were the primary method of banking for 9% of those surveyed compared with 5% in its 2012 biannual survey.

That put mobile banking close to branch visits (13%), and ahead of telephone banking (4%). Online banking was by far the most common form, at 55%, followed by automatic teller machines at 18%


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Source: Baystreet Economic Commentary (Canada)


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