Bankers’ online offerings reflect today’s savvy consumers

Date: February 20, 1995
Headline: TD Bank debuts large Infonet site, 'Financial Information Resource'

Date: February 20, 1995

Headline: TD Bank debuts large Infonet site, ‘Financial Information Resource’

Then: Hard to believe it was seven years ago that Canadian banks took their marketing communications online. A look back at a 1995 Strategy report shows that only weeks after the Royal Bank and the Bank of Montreal planted rudimentary sites on the Internet (containing mostly corporate information), the Toronto Dominion Bank created a home page that ‘dwarfed them both.’

The ‘Financial Information Resource,’ as the 300-page site was called, contained a broad range of information, including an RRSP Centre, downloadable small business planner and mortgage software and the ability to accept and send e-mail. Although specific to TD, execs said the site was designed to supply generic answers to frequently asked financial services questions. It is also at this time that the bank begins the novel practice of including its ‘Web address and e-mail address in all its printed material.’

Now: Canada’s banks have moved their respective Web sites from sources of corporate information to banking channels in and of themselves. And now technology and the Internet are helping to facilitate banking via completely new mediums, like wireless.

According to Media Metrix, which measures the Canadian traffic to Web sites in various categories including business/finance, Canada remains among the leaders in usage of online financial services. Royalbank.com,Desjardins.com,CIBC.com, Tdbank.ca (now tdcanadatrust.com) and bmo.com all ranked among the most-visited financial sites in Canada.

Consumers now have extensive access to virtually all financial services, including bill viewing and payment, full transaction history and self-directed online investment services – in real-time – from the comfort of their own home or office. Consumers have moved past the stage of only seeking information to using the Web for managing their pre-existing financial relationships, reports Media Metrix. And as customers become more savvy, they expect better service.

As for TD Canada Trust, it’s still at the forefront of the online world. Last year, the recently integrated bank won the ‘best overall online banking experience’ in Canada, according to the MoneySense.ca/Quicken.ca annual Online Banking Report. It was also rated ‘Canada’s most popular online bank’ among those banking online by international survey research firm Ipsos-Reid.

‘Our driving philosophy has always been: ‘What does the customer want?’ This is not an acquisition channel as much as it is a channel for serving customers and building experiences,’ says Chuck Hounsell, senior VP, e-bank, TD-Canada Trust.

Interestingly, the bank just re-launched its site to reflect last year’s merger with Canada Trust, and to add functionality and streamline the navigation.

‘The site hadn’t really been completely revamped since its very first iteration. Now we’ve combined the best features of both TD and Canada Trust – right down to the fonts, because people have different preferences,’ he says.

The new site serves up deeper detailed views of mortgages, for example, and the ability for customers to renew their mortgage online, or customize links to take them directly to their most frequent transactions.

So what are consumers looking for online today – or what will they be demanding very soon? Well, it’s a combination of self-service features and automation, says Hounsell – features such as more automated ways of paying bills and e-billing integration, person-to-person payments online, and completely integrated account services.