Late last year, Forrester reviewed and ranked the secure websites of the 12 largest retail banks in the US and Canada. The full reports can be found here (US) and here (Canada). Overall, banks' secure websites earned an average score of 70 points (out of 100), demonstrating a level of quality that meets customers expectations but also leaves room for improvements. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Citi moves to the top of the US rankings with a website overhaul. In July 2011, Citi launched its first tablet banking app. Based in part on insights gleaned from that process, the bank rolled out a newly redesigned secure website, followed by additional digital features and functionality for online bankers, mobile bankers, and tablet bankers. As a result, Citi moved from second-to-last in our ranking to the top spot this year.
  • RBC pulls off a historic sixth-straight win among Canadian banks' secure sites. For a record sixth year, RBC earned the top spot in our Canadian rankings. Two factors drive RBC’s digital banking success: First, the bank's secure website offers a wide array of secure site features, including eBills, tax management tools, and more; second, the bank continues to innovate, this year adding customizable money management dashboards and new mobile features such as foreign exchange and mortgage payment calculators on its iPhone app.
  • Most banks have the basics — like online money movement — nailed down . . . Every single bank secure site we reviewed earned a positive score across our online money movement criteria, and all but two garnered perfect scores for online transfers. Since transferring funds and paying bills are two of the most common — and important — activities on banks' secure sites, these scores reveal that banks' strengths align with online bankers' needs and expectations.
  • . . . yet too many banks still don't offer secure site search. Just one-third of the largest North American banks — four of the 12 we ranked — have search on their secure websites. This is especially problematic because a majority of online bankers say it is "important" or "very important" that their bank offer secure site search. Moving forward, banks should look to include a search bar on their secure sites and eventually to leverage search as an engagement and cross-selling tool.
  • eBusiness teams at banks are now preparing for digital banking 2.0. With many "table stakes" like online bill pay covered, digital strategists at banks are looking to prep their secure websites for the next generation of online banking. This will include many innovations, but a non-exhaustive list includes person-to-person (P2P) payments, interactive "maps" of past transactions, financial calculators, contextual cross-selling, and personal financial management (PFM) tools that are embedded in the everyday digital banking experience.

The full report for US banking providers can be found here, and for Canadian banks here.

We invite your comments and reactions.