While the banks compete for customers and new business, the customers also search for the banks online. An interesting comparison would be to see how do Canadians use the Internet to search for banks. The underlying assumption in such a comparison is that the bank that is subject to more searches is more popular among consumers.
The answer to this riddle is available from Google. Comparing the Google based searches conducted by Canadians one can guesstimate the popularity of different bank brands amongst Canadians. Consider the following graph, which is live and interactive.
After normalizing the search volume to an index between zero and hundred, one could see that CIBC has been subject of most searches followed by Royal Bank. TD Canada Trust is ranked third.
Also note that since 2004, the above-mentioned three banks have been experiencing an increase in searches, i.e. popularity. Whereas the other two banks, the Bank of Nova Scotia and the Bank of Montreal have been experiencing a gradual decline in their Internet popularity.
Also note that consumers searches for the big five Canadian Banks drop the most in October year after year.
Another way of determining the comparative popularity of the five banks is to compare the the Internet traffic volumes to their web sites. The results are presented in the graph below. The highest Internet traffic is reported for TD Canada Trust followed by the Royal Bank of Canada. Up until August 2008, TD Canada Trust was reporting 400,000 visits to its website each day. Since then, there has been a systematic decline that was only reversed in September/October 2009.
The other three banks namely the Bank of Nova Scotia, CIBC, and the Bank of Montreal experience similar Internet traffic, which is significantly lower than the one reported for TD Canada Trust.
The two graphs present two different pictures. The first graph, which documents Internet searches run by Canadians using Google, serves as a proxy of interest amongst consumers who may not already be customers of these banks. The second graph reports Internet traffic to the specific bank websites, which is more of a proxy of Internet banking by existing customers.
Based on the above two graphs, I would conclude that CIBC appears to be the fastest growing bank in Canada followed by TD Canada Trust. Whereas the other three are likely to maintain their market share as it stands today.
The global reach of Canadian banks
While the Canadian Banks receive most of their Internet traffic from within Canada, the same banks to receive some traffic from overseas and the United States. The Internet traffic to each bank that originates in a different country than Canada would serve as a proxy of how international the bank is and what is the spatial concentration for each bank.
Based on the data recovered from Google, I have prepared the following table that shows the ranking of traffic originating in countries other than Canada for each bank after normalizing the data. It appears that The Bank of Nova Scotia is the most international bank in Canada because a large number of Caribbean countries generate internet traffic to its website. While the United States is home to the most Internet traffic originating for the four large Canadian Banks, Jamaica generates the most non Canadian traffic (normalized by Internet activity in Jamaica) for the Bank Of Nova Scotia.
The Royal Bank Of Canada is similar in its international profile as the Bank Of Nova Scotia because similar countries appear in the non Canadian traffic for both. BMO on the other hand appears to be more focused and concentrated in its non Canadian presence since it attracts traffic from Poland, China, and the United Kingdom.
The only Middle Eastern country that generates significant traffic for the Canadian Banks is Saudi Arabia which shows up for CIBC and the Royal Bank. In fact, once normalized, CIBC receives more Internet traffic from Saudi Arabia than it does from France. Surprisingly, the Bank of Montreal and CIBC do not show Mexico as generating Internet traffic to their web sites. Lastly, TD Canada Trust is the only country that shows significant Internet traffic from South Korea.
In summary, the usual suspects for non Canadian Internet traffic to the Canadian Banks are the United States, United Kingdom, India and China.
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