The benefits to owning a smart phone are many: dealing with problems at work to find out what is the path to leave the house, staying connected with friends and family, and even helpful in finding the answer to this question late at night at about John Travolta. But for millions of Canadians, smartphones have become the main method for paying their bills and checking their bank accounts. They can even shop for their mortgage on Tom Wilcher’s website!
Moving forward is paralleled by the “great love” Canadians have with smartphones, says Kaan Yigit, President of Solution Research Group .
Five years ago, the percentage of the population that used smartphones was 10%. ” Then the iPhone changed the done,” says Mr. Yigit.
” If you look at the numbers now, it’s amazing. We are more than 10 million smart phone users in Canada, and nearly 3.5 million mobile banking users have appeared in the last three years. “
Canadians are drawn to these mobile systems because they are “poor in time,” he says. ” That’s what drives a lot of decisions .”
Paved the way for mobile banking systems, adds Mr. Yigit. In that time, people were very worried about the safety of using such systems. But as their trust in these systems increased, they turned to mobile systems.
” I think people see mobile banking applications in the same way as online banking systems, except that they hold them in their hands and find them extremely convenient for transferring money or paying their bills, “He explains. ” You do not have to sit in front of your computer at night and plan your session. You wait for your sandwich at the local restaurant and say, “Hey, I forgot to pay my Visa account.” Click here, it’s done. “
Plus, keep in mind that mobile apps are generally easier to use than online systems, says Mr. Yigit.
” On your [ computer ] screen you have millions of different choices – something left, something right – while mobile apps get right to the point, ” he confirms. ” It’s portable, easy to use and very fast.”
Sharad Ojha, the manager of mobile channel strategies for Royal Bank of Canada, says mobile banking users account for 7% of RBC’s customer base.
” Since the launch of our mobile banking application in December 2010, 1.35 million of our customers have downloaded it,” he says, ” if we compare the adoption of this application to other systems, the adoption of the mobile domain is clearly superior [ to others ]. “
A RBC study produced in late 2011 tells us that the majority of users are between the ages of 18 and 40, says Mr. Ojha, with two highs of age at ages 22-24 and 35-40.
” For 18 to 24 year olds, they are just starting and mobile phones are an integral part of their lives, it’s a logical fit,” he adds. “But when we look at customers between the ages of 35 and 40, mobile apps are just a convenience. They make their lives more productive and practical. “
Steve Tyers, CIBC’s vice president of eChannels, explains that when the app was launched in 2010, people would try it out, logging in to check their bank accounts. But since the end of last year there has been a change, he says: 5% of all bills have been paid through the CIBC mobile app.
Security issues remain a common concern. In a recent direct ING survey of 700 smartphone users, two-thirds of respondents said security was their number one concern over the use of mobile banking systems.
Mr. Ojha reassures customers by confirming that the RBC Online Banking Guarantee also applies to their mobile system. ” If a fraudulent transaction occurs, RBC is responsible for the transaction and RBC will refund all losses,” he says. (Mr. Tyers says CIBC offers the same guarantee.)
Mr. Yigit believes that mobile applications will crowd out online banking systems over time as mobile applications become more sophisticated. “The more mobile apps you have to do what you can do online, the more they will become the preferred way of banking for people,” he says.
” The number of smartphones in Canada will exceed the number of households with the Internet in the next six months, the change will not be perceived, and our children will say, ‘you had to login on this screen to do what?'”
This change to the mobile age may also change who are the big players in the banking industry, says Mr. Yigit. While Canada’s top five banks had the edge with their infrastructure (such as branches and ATMs), mobile banking provides opportunities for smaller, less traditional players.
” All of a sudden, they are equal on mobile screens,” he elaborates.
The next phase is to be able to use your smart phones to shop, without having to have a plastic card in hand. A survey conducted last year on 419 smartphone users by the Solution Research Group revealed that 66% of people between the ages of 18 and 34 would be interested in having their device allow them to buy merchandise in-store.
” This function is very much in demand,” says Mr. Yigit.
Another concern: What does this product do during a phone loss? Is it possible for someone to use it to defraud a credit card?
” These problems obviously have to be addressed,” reassures Mr. Yigit, “and once that is done, you’ll find that the banking applications will stand out even more.”