How CIBC Is Winning the Mobile Banking Competition

It may be one of Canada’s oldest banks, but all it takes is a glance at all the digital and mobile innovations going on at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) today before you realize that there’s nothing old-school about it.

There’s perhaps not a bank left in the whole of North America that isn’t seeing increasing numbers of customers connecting via digital channels, such as online banking, mobile banking, and ATMs. And so it is true for CIBC, whose mobile app is growing at an almost breath-taking rate, with digital sales going through the roof as well. Indeed, according to Aayaz Pira, Vice President of Digital Channels at CIBC, customers who engage with the bank via a digital channel have twice as deep a relationship with the bank as those who don’t.

The number of people using mobile banking is growing 30% year-over-over, with digital sales keeping this pace as well, Pira explained in an interview with the Financial Post. In addition, the vast majority of clients start their search for new products online, and three-quarters of bills are being paid digitally.

But maintaining this level of digital engagement across multiple channels requires continuous innovation – something that CIBC is indeed well-versed in. In 1969, it was the first Canadian bank to introduce a 24-hour cash dispenser; in 1992, it was the first to offer automated telephone banking; in 2010, it was the first to launch a mobile banking app; and in 2012, it was the first to release a mobile payment app. Even now, CIBC is still not resting on its laurels, as the bank knows it must chase the bar that’s constantly being set by Silicon Valley.

“Clients are using apps like Starbucks and Uber, and it raises the bar for what a good app should look like,” said Nuno Carreira, Director of Banking User Experience at CIBC. “It’s not just the experience at our bank versus other banks. It’s what the client is experiencing all day long.”

Transforming the Digital Banking Experience

As recently as 2014, sales from digital channels made up just 2% of CIBC’s revenues. That’s when Aayaz Pira joined to lead the digital transformation team, growing the department’s workforce from 50 to 250 as CIBC decided to reposition itself as a leader in digital banking.

“Three years ago, when I joined the organization, digital channels were small, and seen predominantly as a service channel – an alternate way for our clients to carry out their day-to-day banking,” says Pira. “As we stepped back and started to look at the opportunity of digital in financial services, we realized that digital could act as a catalyst to transform more than just day-to-day banking services.”

Since then, the bank has been turning to digital to transform the client experience on mobile in distinctive new ways. The first of note is the introduction of in-app voice commands that allow users of the CIBC mobile banking app to quickly access a variety of features and explore products with a simple voice prompt. For example, if a user says “send money”, a list of options like Global Transfer Money and e-Transfer are presented.

“We understand our clients’ unique needs, including those digital first clients who prefer to bank on their mobile device,” says Pira. “By adding voice commands, we’re deepening the mobile experience and laying the foundation to build a unique, personalized in-app search engine that will allow clients to verbally call up any past banking transaction on their mobile device.”

Buy a Home with Your Phone

Next up is the in-app addition of Digital Cart, which allows customers to research and open a new deposit account with CIBC, apply for overdraft protection, and even secure a credit card as part of one digital experience within the CIBC app – all without ever having to visit a branch. However, for those that do prefer to speak to an advisor, Digital Cart allows users to book an appointment from their mobile device, and, using the ‘Save and Resume’ feature, can even pick up from where they left a part-completed application when they enter a CIBC banking center.

(Image source:

In addition to the main CIBC mobile banking app, the bank also introduced one of the first standalone apps that allow customers to apply for, negotiate, and receive approval for a mortgage. This is the CIBC Hello Home app, with which users can securely upload photos of required documentation, benefit from special in-app mortgage rates, and access mortgage calculators to determine how much they can afford. And it comes with dedicated support from a mortgage specialist via in-app messaging as users track the status of their mortgage every step of the way.

As Pira explains: “With CIBC Hello Home and our expanded CIBC Mobile Banking App we are introducing the next generation of smartphone apps, adding features that go beyond basic customer service to create a mobile banking experience that delivers new levels of simplicity and convenience for our clients.”

Meeting the Growing Expectations of Mobile-first and Mobile-only Clients

All of this combined is putting CIBC at the very forefront of digital and mobile innovation in banking – and indeed, the efforts have not gone unnoticed. Last year, CIBC achieved the highest overall score in the Forrester Research 2016 Canadian Mobile Functionality Benchmark report – making it the leader of the big five Canadian banks for mobile banking. It earned big accolades for standing out from the crowd through its wide-ranging support of mobile touchpoints, and for excelling at sales and marketing features, such as pre-filled applications and pre-approved offers within the app. A high benchmark indeed.

(Image source:

The last word goes to David Williamson, Senior Executive Vice President and Group Head, Retail and Business Banking, at CIBC. “We believe the recognition from Forrester Research is another indication of our commitment to being a leader in client-focused innovation. CIBC is at the forefront of delivering products and services that meet the growing digital expectations of mobile-first or mobile-only clients. Our mobile solutions meet the everyday banking needs of our clients to bank anywhere, anytime, and create opportunities for us to build and deepen client relationships.”

Hear CIBC’s Christina Hatziioannou, Director of Digital Strategy & Integration, at Future Digital Finance West 2017 this December.

Download the Future Digital Finance West 2017 Agenda to learn more.