RealTime IT News

Banks Face Unfavorable Charges

[Toronto, CANADA] Certain to ruffle the feathers of today's self-proclaimed tech-savvy financial institutions, Internet quality measurement firm Gomez has released a study charging Canadian banks with "failing to meet the needs of their online banking customers."

Part-anathema, part-revelation, the study examined the online banking trends and market dynamics of almost 9,000 online adult users across Canada. Dubbed The State of Online Banking study, the project revealed that banks are achieving an extremely low penetration rate for online transactions. Only one percent of respondents reported having obtained mortgages online, 2.4 percent of respondents reported they had applied for a loan online, and only 2.1 percent said they had purchased a GIC (Guaranteed Investment Contract) online.

"The study shows that a surprising number of institutions still require physical-world activities to fulfill certain basic requirements that could be more efficiently handled over the Internet," said Don Rolfe, managing director for GomezCanada. "Banks will need to offer innovative features, increased breadth of products, pricing advantages, and higher customer service levels, in order to give their customers a compelling reason to move their banking relationships online."

A majority of those surveyed - 54.9 percent - used the Internet to view account balances, while 44 percent had paid bills online and 38.5 percent has used the Internet to transfer funds. Fifteen percent said they had applied online for a credit card, and seven percent had used those cards for online purchases.

The state of online banking in Canada received a far more favorable spin in the week-old Banking Services Delivery Study, conducted by Canadian Facts, a division of CF Group Inc. The study revealed that two in ten Canadians are signed up for Internet banking, double the number from a year ago. And those who are registered for the service use it frequently. Six in ten (59 percent) report clicking on their account at least once a week. And three-quarters (77 percent) say they usually bank online at least once a month.

"Compared to other methods of banking, Internet banking has seen the biggest jump in usage over the past year," said Rhonda Grunier, senior research director of Canadian Facts.

Spin aside, all agree that now is the time for banks to offer the products and services needed to compel customers to switch from tellers to online transactions.