TD Bank partners with Toronto startup to bring more personalization to its banking app

One day soon, the TD Bank app on your tablet or smartphone could know that you’re at the Blue Jays game, know that it’s a hot summer day, and give you an opportunity to order a baseball helmet of ice cream directly from the app.

That’s the sort of personalized experience TD Bank Group is hoping to deliver through a newly announced partnership with Flybits. A startup out of Ryerson University’s Digital Media Zone (DMZ) incubator, Flybits has developed a cloud-based context-as-a-service solution  that can be used by IoS and Android developers to use contextual information – from location and social profiles to environmental data – to deliver a mobile experience that is personalized for each user.

TD has secured the exclusive rights for the Flybits solution in Canada’s financial sector, and will be using the technology to drive deeper personalization through its TD mobile banking app – we can expect to learn more about exactly how it will be integrated in early 2016.

The partnership is part of TD’s strategy to stay connected with an innovation ecosystem said Rizwan Khalfan, TD’s senior vice-president and chief digital officer, in an interview with The strategy includes innovation contests within TD’s engineering and design groups, an incubator at Communitech in Waterloo, Ont., and staying close to startups and accelerators.

“We thought Flybits had a fantastic offering that would help us improve our mobile app, and give our customers a relevant and personalized experience to help them with what they need to do,” said Khalfan.

By integrating Flybits’ content deductive analysis platform into the TD’s app, Khalfan said they will be able to dynamically provision services and content based on the context of the customer. Geolocation is one factor, but others could include weather, the demographic aspects of the customer, and more.

The current TD Bank mobile app.
The current TD Bank mobile app.

“Say you’re going to a ball game at the Rogers Centre,” said Khalfan. “We could draw on the information of when the game is and the services available at the Rogers Centre, and even allow you to order food and drink, providing a unique and differentiated user experience.”

That’s just a speculative use-case; Khalfan said they’re still examining possible use cases and it’s still too early to go to deep into the possibilities at this stage. They plan to do a lot of development directly with customers, hoping their experiences and ideas will really drive where they take the app with Flybits’ context awareness capabilities.

“We have the highest number of mobile active customers on our app in Canada and they’re very engaged, especially with the last few changes we’ve made, like allowing customers to pay their credit card balance with one touch,” said Khalfan. “But it’s all very transactional in nature.”

Khalfan said TD sees mobile becoming a natural extension of their customers. Mobile is playing a more active and signifigant role in people’s lives, and TD wants their app to help them lives their lives the way they want.

While a great deal of contextual information is out there for apps to draw upon, Khalfan said they are very concerned about privacy and will be working hard to show customers the benefits personalization and context can bring users in order to secure their opt-in and informed consent.

“One the one hand we’re trying to drive useful and relevant experiences, but we also want to respect their privacy and make sure they’re in the driver’s seat,” said Khalfan.

Personalization is changing not only apps, but the way customers are expecting to interact with a business no matter what the channel of engagement. And Khalfan said the definition of personalization is continually evolving. It used to mean simple, easy and fast, and then it became more about anticipating customer needs. And now it’s evolving even further.

“It’s not only anticipating, but delivering a humanized digital experience that looks at what the customer is trying to do that’s important to them, and how we can help them achieve their objectives,” said Khalfan. “We need to recognize not only that you’re a TD customer, but that you’re Jeff.”

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras is a technology journalist with IT World Canada and a member of the IT Business team. He began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada and the channel for Computer Dealer News. His writing has also appeared in the Vancouver Sun & the Ottawa Citizen.

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