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Synovate research shows online banking grows in popularity while telephone banking, ATM use drops


TORONTO — Online banking is steadily growing in popularity among Canadians at the expense of other forms of banking, according to Synovate’s latest retail banking survey.

Only 17.6% of Canadian personal banking customers used automated telephone banking - which does not involve a live telephone banking representative - during the past six months ending in August 2009, compared with 19.5% during the same period in 2008. Similarly, only 16.2% of respondents used a live telephone banking rep this year, compared with 17.4% in 2008.

However, online banking was used by 61.9% of personal banking customers this year, up from 60% last year.

The results were gathered from Synovate’s Customer Service Index (CSI), a quarterly tracking survey that has been conducted since 1987, covering all aspects of personal banking. Results are based on responses from almost 39,000 nationally representative households annually.

“Telephone banking usage has been declining for some time now,” noted Adrian Murphy, Vice President for Syndicated Research at Synovate Canada, who is responsible for the study. “Usage of ATMs and in-branch banking is also softening over time,” he added.

The survey found that 69.8% of customers have used an ATM at a financial institution in the past six months, down from 71.6% in 2008, while only 56.6% have used a branch (not ATM) for banking during the six months ended August this year, down from 58.3% in 2008.

Although some Canadians may love to grumble about their banks, the survey found that only 7.8% of respondents reported experiencing any problems with their financial institution, down slightly from 8.6% in 2008.

“While media coverage would suggest that the financial sector may not be popular with consumers, especially in light of the recession, very few people actually report having experienced a specific problem with their provider,” Murphy explained.

The latest CSI survey results were released in conjunction with the Synovate Best Banking Awards for 2009, which ranked TD Canada Trust at the top for Online Banking, Telephone Banking and ATM Banking Excellence among the Big 5 Banks. Bank of Montreal, RBC and TD Canada Trust shared the top prize for Branch Service Excellence.

Overall, the results show that personal banking is becoming increasingly competitive, Murphy said. “The sector is a major source of profit for Canada’s retail financial institutions and the battle to attract and satisfy customers is intense.”

For more information on this topic, please visit Personal Banking Research - Canada.

About Synovate
Synovate, the market research arm of Aegis Group plc, generates consumer insights that drive competitive marketing solutions. The network provides clients with cohesive global support and a comprehensive suite of research solutions. Synovate employs over 6,400 staff across 62 countries.

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