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Online banking at the fore of industry’s response to pandemic

Online banking is nothing new, but has taken on a new importance during the coronavirus pandemic. From the ATMs of the industry’s early foray into automation to today’s smartphone apps, banks have embraced technology.

The pandemic situation has meant hardship for some, with many others facing some financial stress. It’s also made in-person banking more difficult. Institutions have taken steps to mitigate the economic impact of the virus on their customers, from providing more than 775,000 people with mortgage flexibility to 476,000 credit card payment deferrals.

Locally, Kindred Credit Union is now making things even easier for customers who want to take part in “banking with purpose” with the launch of digital account opening. Now customers can open a chequing or savings account through a device such as a laptop, tablet or smartphone.

Statistics from the Canadian Bankers Association (CBA) show 91 per cent of Canadians believe banking is more convenient thanks to technology. Of that number, 76 per cent of them use online or mobile banking regularly to conduct their transactions. Kindred’s new application system is set to ensure that their customers can be as happy as the rest of Canadians with their banking setup.

Ian Thomas

“Kindred continues to invest in new ways to support our members at every step of their financial journey,” said CEO Ian Thomas. “We launched [digital applications] in August for new members to join Kindred, and to switch their banking over to Kindred and to be able to do that through their mobile device or through their computer. Really, the neat part about that is we have a whole roadmap of different digital solutions that are going to enhance the types of things that members can do with Kindred over the coming months.”

Thomas says this was in the works for some time and was not brought on by the pandemic, adding this is not the first digital solution that has been adopted over the last few months to make banking simpler.

In the future, the credit union hopes to launch the ability to borrow money digitally, as well as enhancing their smartphone applications.

All banks have continued to ensure that they are delivering the full range of needs of Canadians across all channels and products, says CBA spokesman Mathieu Labreche, who points to high customer satisfaction with the country’s banks.

The outlook is a little less rosy in a recent report by JD Power that found satisfaction with mobile banking has gone down, although mobile banking usage has increase by eight percentage points this year to 63 per cent from 55 per cent.

Thomas says that while he has heard of such reports, Kindred has not experienced this from customers, with their scores going in a positive direction, noting that can be attributed to their model of not prioritizing in branch or online, but rather ensuring that each experience compliments and adds to the other.

Kindred also reaches out to its members periodically, perhaps helping with positive customer scores, he suggested.

“We’ve also reached out to over 7,000 of our members proactively just checking in with them to see how they’re doing [and asking are there] any questions we can answer, and members have really appreciated that. In fact, we’ve actually had a few emotional responses from those who have been feeling more isolated during some of those lockdown moments, but again it was just constantly being there and letting them know that their financial institution was thinking about them,” said Thomas.

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