LowestRates.ca provides a free independent online service helping consumers compare personal financial products offered by leading financial institutions. Their mission is to remove the hassle of finding a mortgage, insurance policy or credit card by quickly providing you with the right financial product for your unique needs at the best available price. Below is our interview with Justin Thouin, from LowestRates.ca:
Q: What’s the best thing about LowestRates.ca that people might not know about?
A: We offer numerous unbiased financial options for mortgages, insurance, loans and credit cards all in one spot—online—so people can easily save 1000s of dollars just by spending a few minutes using our site.
Just like when people are searching for a flight or hotel, and spend lots of time comparing to save $100s, we help consumers save $1000s. For example, over 5-years, people could save up to $5,400 on a mortgage by simply going online and checking multiple options — just like how travellers search for the best vacation plans using sites like Expedia.
Ultimately, we are disrupting the way people currently shop for rates in Canada because Canadians automatically defer to their ‘trusted’ banks, which, in our experience, do not offer very good rates except to those few Canadians who shop around first and negotiate.
Q: You’ve recently joined MaRS Discovery District’s FinTech cluster; tell us what this means for your company?
A: It means two things: consumer exposure and industry awareness. The main obstacle we face is a lack of awareness among Canadians. The average Canadian is unaware that they can easily compare personal finance products online, for free. This partnership will help us increase awareness among Canadians that sites like ours exist, and that going to the bank isn’t their only option, or their best option. We are truly aiming to change Canadians’ behaviour in how they traditionally shop for mortgages, insurance, credit cards, and loans
Q: What makes LowestRates.ca unique/different in the market?
A: LowestRates.ca is unique and different in the market because we are not one of the banks. We are providing an unbiased platform offering Canadians multiple options when shopping around for rates for major financial decisions.
In Canada, there are currently two other major rate comparison sites. What we hope we’re doing is collectively educating Canadians that there’s a better way to shop for mortgage, insurance and credit card—it isn’t walking into a local branch and taking the first mortgage or credit card that you’re offered and it isn’t blindly renewing with your insurance company. What it is, is going online, spending a couple of minutes, seeing multiple options, and saving up to thousands of dollars per year.
We are unique and different because we are offering a service that Canadians never realized could be so easily accessible to them.
Q: Comparison shopping for personal finance is big around the world, so why do you think it’s still in its infancy in Canada?
A: We think there are two primary reasons.
The first is trust. In Canada, the 5 big banks have a huge advantage when it comes to prominence and trust in the minds of Canadian consumers. We’ve grown up believing that banks are the only choice. It’s just the way things are done. Whereas in the US and the UK – two markets where rate comparison sites are much more prevalent – personal finance is not controlled so tightly by such a small number of large companies; consumers in the UK and US feel more comfort and trust for financial companies outside of the large banks.
The second is awareness. Companies like MoneySupermarket.co.uk have risen to prominence and reached a point where 70% of personal finance transactions start on rate comparison sites. They have done this by advertising to the same degree as the major banks. That hasn’t happened in Canada because longstanding traditional banks have a lot more money than early stages companies like ours. Canadian startups also lack access to capital whereas the UK and the US are much easier markets to raise capital in.
Those are the two reasons we think it’s in its infancy: it’s David vs. the Goliath at this point. We’re really trying to make people aware this subsector of the financial technology category exists and will change behaviour.
Q: What can we expect from LowestRates.ca in the future?
A: As more awareness is created for this FinTech category, LowestRates.ca will be as ubiquitous as travel sites like Expedia. The benefit of using a rate comparison site is incredible because the savings potential is huge.
Gaining awareness may be like a snowball effect; it will continue to gain momentum in Canada like it has in other countries. Along with our partnership with MaRS, we are launching a marketing campaign soon – the first time we’ve ever used the media to generate widespread awareness. So Canadians will see more of LowestRates.ca. And further down the road, you may see us branching out into financial categories outside our core offerings of mortgage, insurance and credit cards.
Q: How would you convince the reader to start using LowestRates.ca?
A: Everyone is so focused on having more money in their pocket. How can I afford that vacation? How can I afford that renovation on my home? How can I afford that car? The answers are usually: I should stop buying coffee everyday, or I need to get a raise at work. Well, going to LowestRates.ca is like getting a raise at work! Go buy your coffee and come to our site and save up to thousands in only a few minutes. That’s the best advice we could give someone in terms of why they should come to our site. Not only will you be able to explore your options within minutes, you’ll be able to educate yourself and make sure the choices you’ve made are the right ones. Many of us use comparison sites in other parts of our lives, so why not use them where it matters most?Activate Social Media: