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Online and Mobile Banking During the COVID-19 Pandemic

June 1, 2020
5 mins
A young woman sits on a couch and shops using her phone and a credit card

Canadians are using social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As a result, banks have closed their doors or reduced their hours of operation. Many Canadians are turning to technology to manage their finances instead. Naturally, this has caused a spike in the use of online and mobile banking.

There haven’t been any recent reports of disruptions to the quality of online and mobile banking, making it an excellent alternative to visiting a branch during this global crisis. Banks have already invested a lot into their digital channels, allowing them to manage the surplus of customers with little to no issues.

Banking app satisfaction in Canada

The J.D. Power 2020 Canada Retail Banking Satisfaction Study found that 63% of Canadians are using mobile banking compared to 55% last year. However, customer satisfaction with mobile banking has declined across all age and income groups.

The study suggests that 49% of Canadians rely heavily on mobile apps and the internet for their banking needs, with 33% of customers classified as digital-only. Overall banking satisfaction is lower among digital-only banking customers than those that use branches for some or all of their banking requirements.

According to John Cabell, director of banking and payments intelligence at J.D. Power, Canadian banks have seen improvements in satisfaction related to products, fees and problem resolution. However, even with massive investments in mobile banking offerings, banks have yet to see satisfaction increase in the area.

“As many more customers must now reluctantly rely heavily on remote access to banking services due to COVID-19, rapid improvements in online and mobile are critical for Canadian banks to grow their retail business,” said Cabell in a release.

While mobile apps may be less favourable, the virtual world of banking has become quintessential to the customer experience.

Key findings

Moreover, the study found that overall satisfaction was higher in customers who have a positive outlook on their financial situation than those that have a negative outlook. Additionally, customers with a positive financial outlook were more likely to use their current bank for future accounts or financial products.

As more Canadians deal with financial hardships amid the COVID-19 pandemic, more banks are stepping up to help their customers. Some of the emergency relief options available include mortgage and credit card payment deferrals. How banks choose to communicate and work with customers during this time could have a positive or negative effect on their outlook and customer loyalty.

Study rankings

Based on channel activities (online services, branches, call centres, etc.), communication and advice, convenience, new account opening, problem resolution, and products and fees, these financial institutions ranked the highest in overall satisfaction among Canadians:

Among the Big 5 banks: 

  1. RBC Royal Bank
  2. TD Canada Trust
  3. CIBC
  4. BMO Bank of Montreal
  5. Scotiabank

Among midsize banks: 

  1. Tangerine
  2. Simplii Financial
  3. ATB Financial
  4. National Bank of Canada
  5. Desjardins
  6. HSBC Bank Canada
  7. Laurentian Bank of Canada

What services are available through online and mobile banking?

Every big Canadian bank has an online and mobile platform that can allow customers to access their accounts, see ongoing transaction history, and review product information regarding mortgages, chequing and savings accounts, loans, investments and credit cards. Online banking generally offers more services than mobile banking; however, customers can typically access both systems at their convenience.

Additionally, all major banks offer Interac e-Transfers to send and receive money online, allowing customers to continue to meet their financial obligations. Banks are also introducing direct deposit for CRA tax refunds and Canada Emergency Response Benefit payments to cope with the demand.

Every financial institution will offer different online and mobile banking services, each with a unique customer experience:

  • Royal Bank of Canada (RBC): Receive online statements, deposit cheques and make bill payments to Canadian vendors.
  • Bank of Montreal (BMO): Pay bills, deposit cheques, transfer funds between accounts, and manage credit cards.
  • Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC): Deposit cheques, pay bills, send and receive money through wire transfers, report lost or stolen cards and create void cheques.
  • National Bank of Canada: Categorize transactions for budgeting, bill payments, create void cheques and cancel Interac e-Transfers.
  • Scotiabank: Transfer money between accounts, send money to anyone around the world, pay bills and receive digital statements.
  • TD Canada Trust: Make bill payments to Canadian vendors, deposit cheques, access TD Cross Border Banking and access Web Broker.

You can also visit your bank’s website or download the app to explore what services they offer firsthand.

Meeting demands with virtual banking

Canadian banks are encouraging their customers to use online and mobile banking before calling, emailing or visiting a branch. To date, the big Canadian banks have not reported any disruptions of digital services due to increased activity. In fact, using digital banking is probably the quickest and easiest way to complete your banking tasks presently.

Many banks are experiencing an increase in calls and emails as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you try to call or email, expect to wait a while before you receive a response or get in touch with someone. To avoid the long wait times, try researching your question or needs on your bank’s website using FAQ sections and other resources. Online application forms may also be available for payment deferral requests and other financial aid measures.

Of course, if you have an urgent concern, you may need to contact your bank for a more immediate response.

Banking during the COVID-19 pandemic

Currently, online and mobile banking may be the safest and quickest way to keep your finances in order. Luckily, all the major Canadian banks offer great resources and banking products through their online platforms.

This article has been updated.

Veronica Ott

Veronica Ott specializes in personal finance, accounting and business-related writing. Veronica obtained her undergraduate degree in accounting from Western University. She completed her CPA designation shortly after, which was where she discovered her passion for writing in the world of business. Veronica has been working with various blogs and websites over the past three years. In addition to writing, Veronica works as an accountant. In both of her careers, Veronica’s goal is to help others become financially literate and achieve their monetary goals.

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