Scotiabank Mobile Banking: Is this the jumpstart Canada needs?
Mobile Banking in Canada has seemed poised for explosive growth for years now, yet very little ever seems to actually materialize for Canadian consumers.
The latest reason for hope is Scotiabank’s announcement that they have selected MCOM to provide mobile banking services. New Zealand-founded but Atlanta headquartered MCOM has been providing mobile banking since 2000, but has only made a signifcant push into North American markets this year through its partnerships with Fiserv and Microsoft. MCOM’s historical strength has been in SMS and mobile web mobile banking, although they now offer native application technology as well.
So, is the Scotiabank announcement the catalyst that finally breaks the Canadian mobile banking logjam? One could argue that Scotiabank is just catching up to what RBC, TD, & CIBC already have.Canadian banks have had mobile-web based mobile banking implementations on-and-off since 2000 — which consumers have generally ignored.
Scotiabank’s announcement was vague about what kind of offering they would provide, only saying:
Scotiabank’s mobile banking service will provide personal and small business customers with easy access to their Scotiabank accounts from their mobile device, regardless of their mobile service provider. Customers will be able to view balances and transaction history, pay bills and make transfers.
If Scotiabank only offers up mobile web, it’s not a step forward for Canada. Canadian banks already have mobile-web based mobile banking, and like everywhere else, the impact is minimal. Many smartphone customers will try Scotiabank’s mobile banking, but only a select collection of hard-core users will use it repeatedly.
On the other hand, Scotiabank can disrupt the entire Canadian banking status quo by offering a number of mobile banking offerings at once (mobile web, SMS, native iPhone application, native Blackberry application, etc.). Bank of America has seen tremendous success (3.5 M customers and counting) by offering a variety of technology options so consumers can interact in the mode that suits them best. Javelin Strategy’s recent 2009 Mobile Banking Scorecard recommends this approach as well.
Scotiabank and MCOM on paper have the capability for a bold move. However, by omitting specifics from the announcement they have muted the impact. The consensus among Canadian bankers is that they have time to sit back, watch and wait.
Scotiabank missed an opportunity to knock their competitors out of their chairs.
Scotiabank issued a clarifying press release specificially saying they’re offering Alerts and native iPhone applications. This announcement shakes things up in Canada!