Canadian banks embrace new technology to woo younger clients

Mon Dec 1, 2014 11:16am EST
 
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TORONTO Dec 1 (Reuters) - Canada's banks are shaking off a bit of the stable-but-staid reputation they built by dodging the worst of the global financial crisis as they embrace new technologies to reach an increasingly tech savvy audience.

In doing so, the country's Big Six banks seek to woo younger clients at a time when their retail growth is starting to slow.

Bank of Nova Scotia, for instance, launched a new app for Samsung's Gear 2 and Gear S smartwatches on Monday that allows clients to check their account balances by just swiping a finger across the screens on their wrists.

The Quick Balance app follows Scotiabank's 2013 introduction of mortgage prepayment options and paperless statements on mobile devices.

"We have seen a definite shift in the way consumers are interacting with our products and services, and it is our goal to stay ahead of the curve," said Jeff Marshall, Scotiabank's head of self-service Customer Experience.

Last month Canadian startup Bionym, maker of a wearable security device dubbed Nymi, teamed up with Canada's largest lender, Royal Bank of Canada, and credit card giant MasterCard to test a technology that uses a person's heartbeat to verify payments and replace PIN numbers.

And last year Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce introduced eDeposits, allowing its clients to deposit checks using smartphone cameras.

Canada's top banks RBC, Toronto-Dominion Bank, Scotiabank, Bank of Montreal, CIBC and National Bank of Canada all report quarterly results this week.

Most analysts expect the banks' wholesale and wealth management businesses to report strong growth, while their core retail businesses see more modest revenue gains.

"We suspect that housing and consumer debt level concerns still persist with perhaps additional concerns surrounding the outlook for the Canadian economy, Canadian dollar and oil prices," Credit Suisse analyst Kevin Choquette said in a note to clients on Monday. (Reporting by Euan Rocha; Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson; and Peter Galloway)