How Canadians Bank

Last modified: 29 May 2014
For more information:

Fast facts

  • The Internet is now the main means of banking for 47 per cent of Canadians, and use of the Internet as the primary banking choice is increasing among all age groups.
  • Branch and ABM banking, while declining in popularity over time, remain important and valued methods of conducting a wide variety of banking transactions.
  • 91 per cent of Canadians say innovations have made banking more convenient, enabling them to bank virtually whenever and wherever it suits them.

The bottom line

Banks are offering Canadians more and more ways to do their banking. Customers say they see real value in the increased convenience, choice and flexibility that they have in banking today.

Banks offer a wide range of financial services for consumers and a number of ways for people to access those services. In fact, of the 80 banks operating in Canada, at least 40 offer financial products and services - including bank accounts, credit cards, loans and investments - to Canadian consumers.

Gone are the days when doing your banking meant a visit to a branch. Now a customer can bank anytime from virtually anywhere through online, mobile and telephone banking. Caught in the grocery store checkout line without enough cash? Customers can use debit cards and get cash back at the same time. Forgot to pay some bills before going on vacation? Customers can pay bills online, through a mobile device, at an ABM or by phone or even set them up for direct payment.

Canadians are embracing these new choices. A 2012 CBA survey, How Canadians Bank, showed that Canadians use a variety of banking services to meet their needs and believe technologies available through their financial institution make their personal banking more convenient.

Online banking remains the most popular

Online banking continues to grow and is now the most popular method of conducting banking transactions:

  • A majority of Canadians (67 per cent) report using online banking in the last year.
  • 47 per cent of Canadians now use the Internet as their main means of banking, up from only eight per cent 12 years ago. And online banking is popular among all age groups: 53 per cent of young Canadians between the ages of 18 and 34 say online is their main way of banking as do 45 per cent of those 55 or older.
  • 41 per cent of Canadians report that their use of online banking has increased, while only four per cent say it is on the decline.
  • 46 per cent of Canadians use online banking as their primary method of bill payment, while 18 per cent prefer pre-authorized bank account payments, nine per cent pay in a branch, eight per cent use telephone banking and seven per cent pay at an ABM.

Mobile banking is catching on

With more and more Canadians carrying smart phones, most banks now offer mobile banking services and apps that allow customers to carry out a variety of day-to-day banking transactions through their smart phones. And the number of Canadians banking on the go continues to rise.

  • 19 per cent of Canadians reported using mobile banking during the last year, up from five per cent in 2010.
  • As with many innovations at their early stage, age is a key factor: 43 per cent of those between the ages of 18 and 34 have done mobile banking while more than 92 per cent of those over 45 have not.
  • 34 per cent of Canadians expect to be conducting their banking using mobile devices in the near future.
  • When asked how likely it would be that they would be paying for purchases using their mobile phone in the next two to three years, 27 thought that that was likely while 68 per cent said it was unlikely.

Branch banking: the personal touch

Despite the growth in electronic options, branches remain a vital part of banking in Canada. To better meet customer needs, many branches are extending their hours and opening on Saturdays and Sundays. And some branches offer drive-through facilities.

  • 17 per cent of Canadians surveyed identify branch banking as their main banking method, down significantly from 29 per cent in 2000.
  • Residents of Manitoba and Saskatchewan are the highest users of in-branch banking with 22 per cent using it for their main banking needs. For Quebec residents, only 10 per cent rely mainly on branches.
  • 33 per cent of Canadians say their use of in-branch banking as dropped. As demand for day-to-day banking has decreased, some branches have become more specialized, where a variety of financial products, services and advice are also available.

Canadian ABM use remains high

There are more than 60,000 ABMs in Canada, including 18,584 bank-owned ABMs.

While more Canadians now identify online banking as their primary banking method (47 per cent) over banking at the ABM (26 per cent), ABMs remain very popular:

  • In 2013, Canadians made over 558 million cash withdrawals, 193 million deposits and 42 million bill payments at bank-owned ABMs.
  • 80 per cent of Canadians prefer ABMs when making cash withdrawals over in-branch services (19 per cent). Fifty-five per cent also take advantage of cash-back services available at some retailers.

Canadians value banking innovations

As technology evolves, banks are always looking for ways to make it easier for Canadians to access their banking. And Canadians clearly value the convenience of these innovations. When asked specifically what is important to them:

  • 91 per cent of Canadians said banking at a time that is convenient
  • 82 per cent said that banking innovations allow them to save time and bank more quickly
  • 81 per cent value banking from virtually anywhere
  • 77 per cent are happy to avoid the time travelling to the bank

For consumers, the ability to use debit cards (91 per cent), having access to a network of ABMs (89 per cent), to pay bills electronically (87 per cent) and to bank online (86 per cent) adds value to their banking.


Related content