For over a decade, Forrester has conducted an annual review of banks’ mobile apps. My colleague Gina Bhawalkar and I recently published our most recent research, in which we evaluated and scored the mobile banking experiences of more than a dozen banking brands’ apps across the US and Canada. In Canada, we looked at the big-five banks’ customer-facing smartphone apps: BMO, CIBC, RBC, Scotiabank, and TD Canada Trust.

If you’re an awesome Forrester client (or even a not-awesome one), you should read the full report. Here’s a quick, nonexhaustive rundown of what we learned:

  • RBC earns the highest overall score — by a whisker. In our combined functionality and user experience (UX) reviews, RBC earns the highest overall score by offering a wide range of app features and strong UX design. Its app leads in account management features and has strong features in money management, money movement, and marketing and sales. In addition to ensuring that the most useful services are present for mobile banking customers, RBC offers certain unique features: For example, a customer can “pay a bill in a snap” by taking a photo. She can also easily find relevant offers from outside the bank in the app’s “explore offers” page.
  • CIBC offers strong functionality and robust features. Alongside RBC, CIBC earns high marks for its mobile banking features. In fact, CIBC leads in two key categories of our reviews, self-service features and assisted-service features, and earns a score over 70 (out of 100) on three others. Its app is particularly strong on search: The customer can easily find past transactions using keyword search, and she can also use an appwide search that is available on most pages. The search function recalls recent searches and leads to specific features, as opposed to just instructions.
  • Scotiabank provides exceptionally strong mobile banking UX. Scotiabank has improved its app significantly since 2019 and offers the best user experience in our reviews this year. Its app helps the customer accomplish tasks confidently with intuitive and straightforward information architecture, prominent navigation elements, and a consistent look and feel across the app. Scotiabank excels with its comprehensive and easily accessible privacy and security content, which is worded clearly, organized under headers and bullets, and keeps users in the app.
  • Canadian banks tend to be consistently weak in a few areas. We identified a number of common gaps, including nonexistent search, limited money management tools, a dearth of financial well-being capabilities, insufficient help, poor self-service, and a lack of clear security and privacy content.
  • Alerts play a crucial role, but most banks’ experiences fall short. Alerts and notifications are among the strongest drivers of engagement in banking. Unfortunately, while every bank we reviewed offers some alerts, most put far too much of the cognitive load on the customer. A customer should be able to conveniently enroll in, manage, receive, and act on a notification, but no bank we reviewed offers strong alerts experiences across all four of these areas.

Again, I invite you to read the full research report here.