Apr 16, 2010

TD catches up with iPhone banking

TORONTO--TD Canada Trust has become the latest Canadian bank to offer mobile applications for iPhones and iPod touch devices. As well as mobile banking via TD’s EasyWeb Internet banking site, customers can use their wireless devices for wealth management and insurance. They also get a branch and ATM locator which will help them avoid bank fees.

Using iPhone applications, banks are able to offer more varied services to their customers than on traditional mobile banking platforms.

For example, the app offered by TD has an accident toolkit for use with TD Insurance. This provides information on what to do in case of an auto accident as well as an “Accident Notepad” to record details of the accident and to help with an auto insurance claim.

The TD app also offers a facility to trade stocks at TD Waterhouse, the bank’s wealth management unit.

“TD has a larger insurance operation than other banks, so that is why they have developed the insurance functionality,” says Rob Burbach, a Senior Analyst at IDC Canada’s Financial Insights unit.

Banks need to find applications that are particularly suited to mobile device usage, Burbach says. Insurance is one of these and stock-trading could be another – both of which TD is targeting.

TD is hoping its mobile apps catch on with its 4 million online banking users and 850,000 WebBroker online stock-trading clients.

In February 2010, CIBC became the first of the major Canadian banks to offer apps for iPhone banking together with GPS-linked branch and ATM locators. CIBC also offers an app for iPod Touch banking over a Wi-Fi connection.

CIBC reported 100,000 downloads of the iPhone app in the first month after its launch and 1 million client logins by April 2010. The bank has since extended mobile banking to Internet-enabled Blackberries and other smartphones.

In March 2010, ING Direct launched its own apps for mobile banking on Blackberries and iPhones.

Currently, Scotiabank, BMO Bank of Montreal and RBC are the three main Canadian banks not offering full mobile banking on Blackberries and iPhones. RBC’s mobile banking works with web-enabled mobile devices, but the bank has not yet released apps for iPhones, iPods and Blackberries.

Scotiabank currently offers transactional information via text messages and a GPS branch and ATM locator for Blackberries, iPhones, iPods and smartphones. In November 2009, Scotiabank announced that it had formed a partnership with Atlanta, Georgia-based technology provider, M-Com to offer mobile banking in Spring 2010.

“The Canadian banks are intensely competitive, so once one bank had launched iPhone apps, the others had to follow,” Burbach says. “I expect that we will see all the major Canadian banks having iPhone mobile banking functionality by the end of 2010.”

Burbach is waiting to see what consumer response will be to mobile banking. “The iPhone is popular with young people, but they might not be that interested in mobile financial services,” he says. “However, there may be greater interest in mobile financial services amongst the more mature and established Blackberry users.”





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