20/09/2023 Banking Innovation


Canada welcomes more than 400,000 newcomers per year. To ease the transition of newcomers to Canada, BMO developed a digital capability to allow eligible newcomers from 13 countries to open a bank account and an investment account instantaneously, before even arriving in Canada.

Innovation presentation

Canada welcomes more than 400,000 newcomers per year and the government has set an ambitious target to welcome over 500,000 newcomers to Canada each year by 2025.

To ease the transition of newcomers to Canada, BMO developed a digital capability to allow eligible newcomers from 13 countries to open a bank account and an International Student investment account (GIC) instantaneously, before arriving in Canada. For International Students specifically, proof of investment from GIC expedites the visa process, providing peace of mind and security in transitioning to Canada. For all Newcomers, opening an account within minutes and receiving digital documentation is extremely advantageous as most competitor FIs only support post arrival account opening, leading to folks carrying large amounts of cash when immigrating. For institutions that do support pre-arrival account opening, the process is slow and lengthy as it can take up to two weeks for documentation to reach source country via regular mail and impedes the customers transition to Canada.

For BMO, the value lies in integrating further upstream within the Newcomer immigration journey. Creating familiarity with the BMO brand and providing guidance to customers during an unpredictable yet very important milestone for this segment positions BMO as a leader in helping customers achieve financial success and aligns strongly with BMO’s core brand promise. BMO also currently holds 8%-10% of market share today for deposits. Tapping into this growing segment is a key strategic initiative to grow market share, increase new account volume and grow share of wallet through integrated retention strategies.

Uniqueness of the project

Taking inspiration from technology leaders and other fintechs, we realized to be successful this initiative needed to create an end-to-end experience for our customers, rather than a simple standalone feature. Despite the technology challenges and overall increased risk associated with allowing customers to open a bank account from a different country, BMO believes in helping customers make real financial progress.

By understanding the nuances of individual markets and primary goals of newcomers, BMO was able to launch an experience that created security, peace of mind and familiarity for newcomers before even leaving their home countries. While other institutions have focused on the easier post-arrival flow, we decided to approach it from first principles. Our primary goal was to alleviate top two pain points for newcomers: bringing large quantities of cash in transit and moving to a new country with out knowledge of simple things such as their closest branch. With the new digital account opening, newcomers can transfer cash from their home country accounts safely as well as have all their necessary account documentation and BMO branch and Advisor information. All these capabilities were focused on newcomers and ensuring a seamless end-to-end experience, while BMO solved for the country specific nuances and complexity. Moving to a new country is stressful enough, BMO ensured one of the key banking pain points for newcomers were addressed with a best-in-class solution.

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