Online banking surges for day-to-day transactions

More and more Canadians are banking online, but most still go to a branch for big-ticket items, according to an NFO Cfgroup study.

“We’re continuing to find growing use of remote banking channels amongst Canadians,” says NFO CFgroup vice-president Rhonda Grunier. “At the same time, we’re seeing a decline in the proportion of people who are visiting branches to do similar sorts of day-to-day transactions.”

The Toronto-based firm conducted 2,034 telephone interviews of Canadians 18 years of age or older between Oct. 3 and Oct. 16. The results are considered accurate to within 2.2 per cent, 19 out of 20 times.

Grunier says 25 per cent of 18- to 25-year-olds bank online, while the most active group is the 26- to 35-year-olds at 34 per cent. Age, she says, begins to play a factor thereafter: 31 per cent of 35- to 49-year-olds are online, 16 per cent of the 50 to 64 group, and six per cent of those 65 and older.

For the most part, however, people are doing day-to-day transactions like paying bills, checking account balances and transferring money between accounts, according to Grunier. Sometimes a monitor can’t replace a face, however. She says 89 per cent opened an account in person and people still prefer to deal with a person to get a mortgage.

“They want to have someone there to ask questions or maybe they don’t know they can do it online,” Grunier says and adds 58 per cent of respondents visited a branch the month prior to the survey.

While tellers and branches may not be placed on the endangered species list yet, their time is coming, according to Don Rolfe, managing director at Toronto-based Gomez Canada. He says a reduction is inevitable, but before this can happen banks must migrate more customers, raising support and functionality issues. He says the Internet infrastructure is in place to support greater numbers, but as people become more familiar with the online channel there is a significant increase in inquiries and needs.

“This means they have to address it from a contact management-centre standpoint in order to effectively meet that,” he says.

“People will want to do more and more, which, in essence, forces most big banks to a lot more work from an integration standpoint: integrating their mutual funds with their RRSP with their banking.”

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