Clicks gaining as bricks dominate

Although Internet banking continues to grow, the majority of Canadians continue to deal with their financial institution at the branch level, according to the NFO CFgroup annual marketing research study, How Canadians Bank. The December-released study cites 58 per cent of Canadians report visiting a branch in the past month to conduct a transaction with a teller or other branch staff, although this is down from 61 per cent in each of the past two years.

By comparison, 24 per cent of the adult population in Canada has signed up for online banking, up from 20 per cent the same time last year.

Meanwhile, registration for online trading has increased dramatically over the past year among Canadians with an account at a discount broker, from 47 per cent to 63 per cent; however, trading frequency is down sharply. Weekly users of online trading have fallen from 53 per cent to 25 per cent of registrants, likely owing to the weakened state of the stock market over the past year.

The study also indicates that six in ten (61 per cent) Internet banking users click on their account at least once a week while 82 per cent say they usually bank online at least once a month, up from 77 per cent in 2000.

Registration for Internet banking increased significantly this year among young adults

aged 18 to 24. This Internet-savvy age group is comfortable with remote banking channels and should drive further growth in online banking, notes NFO CFgroup. Among Canadians not currently signed up, 14 per cent plan to do so within the next six months. In the 18 to 24 age group, the figure is higher at 22 per cent.

“Canadians are increasingly handling their finances electronically. Usage of Internet and telephone banking, as well as bank machines is up this year, while visits to bank branches have declined,” reported Rhonda Grunier, NFO CFgroup vice-president. “Also, a growing number of Canadians are using debit cards, while fewer are writing cheques.”

Banking machines are the most popular means of conducting routine transactions, with 79 per cent of Canadian adults having used an ABM in the past month, up from 76 per cent a year ago. Canadians have a strong preference to withdraw cash from ABMs rather than at the branch. ABMs have overtaken branches as the preferred means of depositing cash and cheques.

Although ABMs are the most common way of paying bills, transferring money between accounts and doing balance inquiries, Canadians are increasingly turning to the Internet and telephone for doing these types of day-to-day transactions, the study reveals.

“Online and telephone banking are popular among Canadians for routine, day-to-day transactions, but are less accepted when it comes to acquiring financial products or services where important decisions are made or where people might need to seek advice. While it is possible to open an account, apply for a loan or mortgage, buy insurance, and purchase an investment online or over the telephone, Canadians strongly prefer doing these things in person at a financial institution,” reported Grunier in a company release.

The study also indicated that about 40 per cent of Canadians are signed up for telephone banking, up from 35 per cent last year. While the branch remains the most common source of information about the products and services offered by one’s main financial institution, Canadians are increasingly turning to their financial institution’s Web site to obtain this information.

NFO CFgroup interviewed a nationally representative sample of Canadian adults 18 years of age and older. A total of 2,034 telephone interviews were conducted between October 3 and 16, 2001. The survey results are considered accurate to within 2.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

NFO CFgroup (formerly CF Group Inc.), an NFO WorldGroup company, can be reached at

RBC wins Gartner kudo for IT use

By Julie Clow

A Canadian bank now holds the bragging rights to the best IT practices in North America, according to one U.S. research and advisory firm. Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Inc. recently awarded RBC Financial Group with the Gartner CIO Choice Award. Bart Stanco, Gartner’s CIO and the leader of the selection process, presented the award to the bank, saying that it displayed all of the qualities Gartner was looking for. “A company has to be able to quickly adapt its IT infrastructure in certain circumstances and they have to have a good return on investment,” he said. “IT should directly contribute to the company organizations’ leadership.”

He credited RBC with its use of business intelligence software to better service and sell to customers, excellence in leveraging customer relationship management and business intelligence applications to reduce fraud, the creation of an online mode for real-time data updates, and the implementation of video-on-demand training for all its associates. “They actually hit across all the criteria,” he said.

In a prepared statement for IT World Canada, Marty Lippert, CIO of RBC Financial Group, said that the company was honored to be “chosen as a leader within North America’s top 100 organizations.”

“We are particularly pleased to receive this award because it not only recognizes innovation and leadership in technology, but it also recognizes a proven capability to apply that technology to create business value,” Lippert said.


Online insider trading reporting welcomed

Insider traders are getting ready to throw out their fax machines. Long regarded as the tool used to file insider reports, representatives at securities commissions all over the country are happy to say that the old paper method of filing to 13 separate jurisdictions is going the way of the dinosaur. Beginning in January, insiders must file their insider trading report electronically on The System for Electronic Disclosure by Insiders (SEDI), he said. The reports will be filed electronically over a new Internet-based system, which will shave between 10 days and several months off the current time it takes to get reports. What’s more, by filing online through SEDI, reports will be harmonized in all jurisdictions and all insiders will be required to report trades within 10 days of the transaction. With the new system, investors will be able to access reports including weekly summaries for all reporting issuers and the details of individual transactions by insiders. Also, investors can access a list of registered insiders for each SEDI issuer and an issuer event history. — Julie Clow

Easing Web-based customer business

Helping organizations in markets such as financial services and insurance to leverage their existing legacy IT systems to do business with their customers over the web is the intent of a partnership between FileNET Corporation, a provider of business process management solutions, and Xenos, a provider of transformation software.

The joint solution is described as providing transformation and presentation of legacy data such as statements, invoices and policy data into web-compatible forms. Organizations using the software are said to manage and present high volumes of personalized content online, delivering more efficient service operations and heightened customer satisfaction.

Software extends Internet banking

Accelio Corporation’s Capture ReachForm is being used by HSB Bank AB, a subsidiary of HSB Sweden AB, one of the biggest cooperative building societies in Sweden. The Canadian company’s solution enables HSB Bank customers to open a bank account quickly and easily by completing an electronic form over the Web. HSB Bank calls the Internet service SparaDirekt. Electronic forms are automatically configured to the Web browser and operating system used by the customer, eliminating the need to install special software or plug-in functions.

Accelio Capture solutions are said to enable intelligent data capture anywhere, anytime and on any device so organizations can reduce paper and manual processes, improve data accuracy at the source, incorporate digital signatures for enhanced security and streamline processing through seamless integration with internal systems.

Instant messaging for P-to-P platform

World Street Corp. delivered last fall an updated version of its peer-to-peer networking platform that includes a new instant messaging capability designed specifically for professionals in the financial services market. Version 3.0 of World Street also features a new viewing capability that allows users to better control the presentation of information which, among other things, allows them to reinforce their brands. World Street Messenger lets users send personalized and secure messages to others from within their existing applications and workflow systems. Messages can be sent either through several different VPNs (virtual private networks) or over the Internet, a company spokesman said. The new messaging features contain compliance control points, enforceable authentication and security, as well as back-end logging and text saving features — capabilities not typically featured in consumer-based messaging systems, according to a company spokesman. Corporate users can tailor their own security and authentication and rule compliance to both internal and external messages. Users can “blend” information from multiple sources into a single document. For example, equity firms can integrate into an investment message relevant text or graphical data taken from research reports, market data, or news. — Ed Scannell, (US)

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