Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) is a bank focused completely on entrepreneurs. Recently, it's made a tremendous investment in mobile apps to help increase the efficiency of its operation and improve the experience of its customers. In total, BDC developed 7 custom iOS apps — and iOS apps only, written entirely in Swift, due to Apple's ease of deployment and focus on privacy and security — going so far as to get interface advice directly from Apple.

7 apps might sound like a lot but, rather than creating one monolithic app with every possible feature crammed into it, BDC believed having several simpler, dedicated apps focused on specific features would create the best user experience. According to Eric Marineau, director of Mobility Expertise Centre at BDC, they didn't want complexity to get in the way of usability.

It was good technology but it was also good business. Beyond the reduction in paper and other environmental benefits, Marineau says the flagship app, BDC Express Loan, is saving BDC roughly 8-person hours of time on every loan. That's huge. But the benefits to customers were even more staggering: Loans that used to take an average of 10 days to process now take an average of 30 minutes. That's incredibly important to entrepreneur customers who need to be agile in a globally competitive market.

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Dr. Anurag Sinha, who immigrated to Canada less than a decade ago and bought his first business, Olympic Tool & Die, only a few years later, remarked on how the new, iOS and iPad-based process, and the rapidity that it enabled, helped him not just see business opportunities like producing high-quality casings for lithium-ion batteries, but get the capitol he needed to pursue them immediately.

Having a rep with an iPad come out to meet an entrepreneur on their own turf, instead of having to go to a bank and pitch a loan officer, also demystified and, frankly, de-stressed the process. Angela Cadorin, co-owner of Fat Guys Auto Parts and Action Tire, told me that having her rep come out to meet her at her place of business, and go through the process on an iPad, not only made everything more open and understandable, but took what was previously a stressful situation where business owners might short-change themselves just to try to get through the meetings, and turned it into something where she could really make sure her and her business needs were met. It made BDC, already hugely customer focused, feel less like a bank and more like a partner and ally.

BDC's clients love the app, according to Flavie Côté, Media Relations at BDC. That's the feedback they're getting. And that's not something you often hear about banking apps. Or banks.

Since its launch last year, BDC Express Loans has helped Canadian entrepreneurs and their businesses expedite nearly 2,000 loans representing tens of millions of dollars. Used by over 600 BDC account managers across Canada, it's also helped clients employing nearly 1 million Canadians generate over $251 billion in annual revenue.

It's an amazing story made all the more so because BDC's success leads to increased success of so many more businesses. And the example they set using Apple's device and app technology not just to increase efficiency but increase experience will hopefully inspire just as many more businesses to do likewise.

VECTOR | Rene Ritchie

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