It all started with Google Wallet.

But as we all know, that never worked in Canada. After that came a wave of apps released by our own Canadian banks. Unfortunately the UI, and UX were not great, and even worse, some are tied to specific telecom carriers. For instance if you are an RBC customer you have to be a Bell customer to be able to use their mobile wallet. This makes absolutely no sense, and also alienates a big portion of their banking customers who may be with Rogers or Telus or another provider.

Here are the latest limitations with Canadian banking apps:

Scotia Bank: Must be a Rogers Customer, limited eligible number of smartphones, new devices slow to be supported, must obtain a special SIM card from the carrier.

TD Bank: Open to all carriers, limited eligible number of smartphones, new devices slow to be supported, must obtain a special SIM card from the carrier.

CIBC: Open to all carriers, Limited eligible number of smartphones, new devices slow to be supported, must obtain a special SIM card from the carrier.

RBC: Must be a Bell customer to use mobile payment, limited eligible number of smartphones, new devices slow to be supported, must obtain a special SIM card from the carrier.

BMO: No mobile payment capabilities.

Even though the banks have made an effort, the experience around payment is not fluid, simple and easy enough to want to use everyday.

Of course now there’s ApplePay, which has been launched in the US several months ago and which has yet to come to Canada. There were rumors in early February that it was to launch in March, however that hasn’t happened yet, likely because the banks are fighting it as it would alienate their own mobile payment platforms. I’m also sure the Canadian “regulatory” bodies will have some “hoops” for Apple to jump through before ApplePay can get here. Maybe it will launch in Canada in the next week, I just highly doubt it (Edit: It’s May- still no ApplePay).

So it remains then, that smaller localized startup concepts will continue to flourish in Canada. We at Compass Group Canada, just launched an “Uber for Food” concept at one of the universities we serve, aimed to improve the checkout process.

Perhaps the lack of attention and innovation in this area for Canada, is because we are seen as too small of a market compared to the US, which is approximately ten times our size. Regardless, the banks could have led the way globally in mobile payment simply based on the infrastructure Canada already has with contactless payment hardware- but frankly their strategies have not been well thought out and their UX needs a lot more work.

So in Canada, the race is still on, will ApplePay finally appear and take over the market as “The Killer payment App” or will we be left to the sub par, fragmented banking apps? In the meantime, maybe there is still room for a forward thinking Canadian startup to capture mass market share and win the race.

What are your thoughts? Leave your comments below or send me a tweet@ciocompass.



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