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Albertans growing their savings with Brightside

ATB’s digital-only banking app proves right fit for the times

By Angelique Rodrigues 14 September 2021 3 min read

An image of the Brightside app displayed on a smartphone

If there’s a word that’s become as painfully overused as “unprecedented,” it’s “contactless.” So, our sincere apologies for this next line:

Over the last 20 months, Brightside, ATB's digital-only banking app, proved itself a contactless solution for unprecedented times.

Now, it's lighting the way to a brighter future for Albertans.

The free app launched publicly in 2020 and offers innovative solutions to common banking woes, including the ability to skip the in-person banking interaction altogether. It's an introvert's dream and cliches aside, it’s helping Albertans save mindfully, and spend purposefully.

"When we look at big banks, there are often some clunky processes — like having to go into the branch to sign paperwork or needing to validate who you are in person," said Brightside marketing director Michael Ulrich.

"That's really what we focused on: giving people a truly digital experience."

For Brightside customer Murray C., that is the true appeal of Brightside. It means Murray can have one less interaction with a stranger in his day.

"I log in with facial recognition and I can do everything right from the app — I’m able to make online purchases, pay bills instantly, even transfer money," said the 47-year old fitness enthusiast and dog owner.

"[So the benefit is] not dealing with a bank, in person."

We hear you, Murray. Dogs > people, every time.

The app also allows users to open multiple spending and saving accounts, known as buckets, sans fees. Heather Dixon, 34, has been living on the brightside for the last nine months and she says the app has changed her life. Dixon doesn't use the app for her everyday purchases; for her, it's all about saving Automagically. (That's really what it's called, we're not just being punny.)

With her day-to-day bank account linked to multiple savings buckets within the Brightside app, on pay day, her chosen amount(s) transfers over into each bucket, magically.

"When people complain about saving, it's usually 'I got to this age, I thought I'd be better off’ and I'd say to them, 'I know how you feel'," said Dixon, who started her journey to the Brightside like many others: with little to nothing in her savings account.

But in her first few months on Brightside, Dixon saved $2,000. And now, she's so proud of her saving habits, she shows her friends her bucket balances with pride.

"It sounds weird but it's just so exciting! Saving automagically saves me time and headspace," she explained.

Julia Wood, 23, used to save all of her disposable income in cash, so she could keep a visual eye on her budget. Now, she's got buckets for things like "Useless Spending" and it's made the difference in terms of curbing her Skip the Dishes habit.

“Before, I would go over my budget and just shrug it off,” said Wood, adding she also takes full advantage of the Round Ups feature to boost her savings. “Now, I like seeing how much I have left at all times and not feeling like I might be going over budget.”

When Brightside launched, the team behind it knew it wouldn't be for everyone. It was designed to draw in a younger, more digital savvy customer. But the post-pandemic ecosystem looks very different and it may have accelerated interest in digital-only banking.

“It’s what many more Albertans have become more comfortable with,” said Ulrich. “Before, very few people ordered their groceries online. Now we all choose these socially distanced options, both for safety and the ease of it.”

Over 87,000 Albertans have downloaded the Brightside app. You can learn more at hibrightside.ca or download the Brightside app in the Apple and Google Play stores.

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