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Mobile Payments Heat Up in Canada

CIBC Bank's Steve Tyers, VP of e-channels products and marketing, discusses the bank's plans for mobile following its launch of an NFC-based mobile payments app late last year with BS&T associate editor Jonathan Camhi.

Are many of your competitors in Canada looking into mobile payments as well?

Tyers: I think everybody is quite keen on looking at this space. There's been discussion in various forms with the CPA at an industry level on how to facilitate mobile payments in Canada.

As with many folks in the mobile space, our customers are demanding convenience and a great experience, and that's why we've invested in this space. We've chosen strategically that being first to market is important for us. That's why we were ahead of the curve on mobile banking, and we saw a lot of clients of other banks here say that they wanted mobile banking, too. We're not expecting the payments side of it to unfold any differently.

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Do you think banks are more out in front on mobile payments in Canada compared to the U.S., where tech companies and telcos are more on the leading edge?

Tyers: We've certainly watched the developments in the U.S. market. Square just recently moved into Canada. PayPal's been here with their solution for a while. But Google Wallet, for instance, is not available in Canada. In this case you see a bank taking the lead in partnership with a telco to offer a new service, unlike in the U.S. where there appears to be more fragmentation of the approach.

Is keeping up with the pace of innovation a significant challenge in the mobile space?

Tyers: That's certainly a challenging aspect to this business. In today's world things just move faster than they did 10 years ago. It's an exciting but demanding aspect to this. We launched mobile banking into a nascent market in Canada, and when we did it just took off. It went quickly from a delightful experience to an expected experience. So it moves quickly, we know that, and we need to be prepared to move quickly as well. It's a challenge and an opportunity all in one.

Does the banking environment in Canada, which is dominated by the big banks, make competition in the mobile space tougher in your opinion than in the U.S.?

Tyers: There are fewer banks in Canada than in the U.S. There's really five or six large national banks. We don't have the regional and community bank phenomenon that you have in the U.S. We feel that makes the competition tougher, because clients have a much better view across the different banks. We need to earn our clients' business across all aspects of banking, as opposed to with a single geography. Clients want to bank where and when they want, and you have to offer the whole package to stay competitive. As soon as someone offers something new you have to respond, because it's just so competitive here. That drives a lot of comparisons in capability and a lot of competitiveness.

Jonathan Camhi has been an associate editor with Bank Systems & Technology since 2012. He previously worked as a freelance journalist in New York City covering politics, health and immigration, and has a master's degree from the City University of New York's Graduate School ... View Full Bio

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