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Canadian Consumer Banking Behaviour – October 2020

In this third monthly bulletin, we look at the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on Canadian financial consumer channel usage, particularly on branch usage behaviour compared with digital channels. The September data show branch consumer usage making a delayed comeback in response to the general easing of lockdown from the beginning of August. We also continue to report on the comparative Net Promoter Score (NPS) ratings of each major bank’s mobile app based on feedback from engaged customers.

The September data highlight the full extent of change in financial consumer behaviour that resulted from the transition to Stage 3, easing restrictions on consumers and businesses across the country. This resulted in a significant uplift in overall branch usage, rebounding from 25% of all consumers who said they used a branch in August to 30% in September. This still represents a substantial reduction from the pre-COVID-19 baseline, but nevertheless shows a positive consumer response to banks relaxing restrictions on opening hours, restoring front-line staffing levels and reopening temporarily closed units.

The usage of most other channels dropped slightly to compensate for the swing back to branch, although online (73%), in-app (45%) and ABM (40%) are still ahead for overall consumer usage, which includes bill payments, cash transactions, service enquiries, investments and new product purchases.

Next month’s results will confirm just how sensitive consumer channel usage is to further restrictions as Stage 2 returns in selected regions. This will partly depend on the decision by banks to maintain branch service levels, which seem to be the primary determinant of consumer usage.

Channel Usage – Any Purpose


Source: Novantas’ DemandScape, Ipsos CFM Survey
Note: Point estimates represent two-month rolling averages of modeled response data


The resurgence in overall branch usage is even more apparent through the lens of geography. Quebec, Ontario and Alberta are seeing increases in usage of around 30% to 50% from their baseline lows of August. This is likely a delayed response to the lifting of restrictions in these provinces. Meanwhile, BC is maintaining its steady straight-line progress, having reopened much earlier than the rest of the country.

Branch Channel Usage – Any Purpose | By Province

All Other

Source: Novantas’ DemandScape, Ipsos CFM Survey
Note: Point estimates represent two-month rolling averages of modeled response data

The most dramatic change in channel usage is for the specific purpose of purchasing a new product. Branch usage for this purpose more than doubled from 1.8% of total consumers in August to 4.5% in September. This figure is about a third higher than the pre-COVID-19 baseline of 3.4%, suggesting the release of pent-up demand for new products since lockdown. Branch usage for new products is now neck-and-neck with online usage, which since lockdown had grown to be by far the dominant channel for product purchase.

Online usage for new products has also taken a big hit from the rebound in branch usage (from 5.3% in August to 4.4% in September). Conversely, new product usage via mobile apps continues to rise and is seemingly unaffected by the return to branches. In fact, in-app and online usage are converging, suggesting in-app and branch may emerge as the two dominant channels, each with their own distinct consumer priorities and profiles.

Channel Usage – New Product


Source: Novantas’ DemandScape, Ipsos CFM Survey
Note: Point estimates represent two-month rolling averages of modeled response data

Consumers continue to be challenged by various aspects of the banking app experience as revealed in customer ratings and comments available from daily Appstore feedback data. The average Canadian banking app engaged customer net promoter score has remained at 3.4 (out of 5) in September from 4.0 in March/April.

Scotiabank remains the highest rated app, although it has slipped from 4.1 average NPS in August to 3.9 in September as a result of a problem customers faced in transferring money between accounts. The biggest loser is the NBC app from 4.0 in July to 2.8 in September. This seems primarily down to a technical issue involving e-transfers. Notably, TD has arrested its app’s previous decline after largely resolving a sign-in/authentication issue and is now part of the pack with Tangerine and RBC at an average NPS of 3.3. Finally, the BMO app has seen a significant improvement to 3.0 from 2.4, largely a result of apparently resolving its previous authentication issues.

NPS Scores | Mobile Banking Apps

Overall Rating (Average)
TD Bank

Source: Apple/Google Appstore data via Ipiphany/Touchpoint Group (Engaged Customers = NPS Ratings with verbal feedback.)

We will continue to track these and other trends in each update of this monthly report. Please email Nick Young at if you would like to be automatically subscribed.


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