Below are interesting stories the Banking.com staff has been reading over the past week. What have you been reading? Let us know in the comments section below.
• Banks Improve Customer-Satisfaction Scores
Banks’ approval numbers are rising, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, but it is because the customers with the biggest complaints have already gone elsewhere. The latest ACSI index of customers’ satisfaction with their checking, savings and personal loans at big banks, released Tuesday, climbed by 1.3 percentage points to 76. Credit unions and smaller banks have significantly higher customer satisfactions levels than the big banks, both scoring 80, though credit unions dropped five points from the previous reading.
• Mobile Payments Moving Beyond Economic Problems
Economic fears that stalled investments in mobile payments technology are fading, but the potential for new entrants to disrupt the market still has some players on edge. The recession slowed development over the past 18 months, but that trend is reversing, according to payments industry players. For example, manufacturers report that orders for contactless technology, including near-field communication-based cards and terminals, are on the rise. New security concerns also have emerged, but these could create opportunities for payments industry players to battle the threats and increase consumer awareness of mobile payments for overall market growth, panelists said Dec. 7 at the Cartes & Identification conference.
• 2010 Saw 40-Fold Growth in the Number of Financial Institution iPhone Apps
Last year at this time only 30 financial institutions had apps in the U.S. iTunes App Store. And that was a full 18 months after Apple’s phone had opened its OS to third-party programs. A few in the industry still questioned whether smaller banks and credit unions would ever need a native iPhone app. That question has been answered: In the past 12 months, the total financial institution app-count has rocketed upwards of more than 1,200, a 40-fold increase. That’s 100 new apps per month for the past 12 months. In raw numbers, the past seven days have been relatively unremarkable with just 17 new FI apps.
• Fed policy on buying Treasury bonds stays on track
Interest rates are marching upward, making it more expensive to take out a mortgage or get a loan to expand a business, and diluting efforts by Congress and the Federal Reserve to strengthen the economy. The rise is partly because of good news: The outlook for growth has improved, putting less pressure on investors to keep their money in ultra-safe bonds. When there’s less demand for bonds, their interest rates – or yield – go up to attract more investors. And the better economic outlook could allow the Fed to pull back sooner than expected on the extraordinary steps it’s taking to keep rates low.
• The 25 Best Apps for iPads, iPhones, and Droids
U.S. News & World Report
As the list of smartphone applications just keeps getting longer, Apple’s slogan—”There’s an app for that”—is gaining the ring of truth. U.S. News staffers shared picks that make their own lives easier or more fun.