What We’re Reading

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.

  • Virtual Banking Worlds Provide Tangible Lessons

American Banker

It’s a fact of doing business — even the most useful banking apps will not get as much screen time as Angry Birds. But bankers can learn from popular games and use similar technology as part of their customer interactions. Some vendors, including Hewlett-Packard Co., are even building gamelike digital branches for banks. The 3-D environment, based on a platform called web.Alive that HP and Avaya demonstrated this month at a conference in New York, allows bankers and their customers to navigate avatars through a computerized replica of a customizable bank branch.

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  • Discover to Pay $50 Referral Fees in Social Media Push

American Banker

Combining targeted online marketing with social media, Discover Financial Services is paying a $50 bounty this week for each referral who becomes a cardholder. Discover will pay the bonuses for its online “Refer-A-Friend” program as Cashback Bonus credit card rewards, Sanjay Gosalia, Discover director of online acquisitions, said Friday at the 23rd Annual Card Forum and Expo here. It is not the first time a card issuer has paid for referring other customers; American Express Co. and Citigroup Inc., among others, have sent emails and direct mail offers to customers promising rewards of $25 to $50 for successfully referring friends as cardholders. But by leveraging targeted online ads and social media, Discover’s effort is broader and more integrated than its competitors’ peer-referral efforts, Gosalia said.

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  • Mobile Payment Apps Offer Benefits of NFC Without the Hardware

American Banker

A host of new mobile payment applications promise many of the perks of near-field communication technology, without the costly hardware. NFC chips allow phones to function as electronic wallets. But mobile phone users can now make payments from their checking accounts via Dwolla Corp.’s software, and they may soon be able to store and view receipts with PayPal Inc.’s Fig Card, or receive special offers using ProPay Inc.’s Zumogo — all using technology that is much more common in today’s phones than NFC. Even if these systems cannot derail the shift to NFC chips, they may help train consumers to think of their phones as an eventual replacement for plastic cards. PayPal, a unit of eBay Inc., drew attention to the hardware-independent approach when it announced last week it had acquired the startup Fig Card.

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  • Moving Mountains to Save Trees

Bank Technology News

In a time when most banks were scurrying to find ways to shave costs, Alabama’s Superior Bank found a way to slice a quarter of a million dollars by overhauling its document workflow and reducing the paper used in documentation. The $3.2 billion asset-bank licenses FormSpeed, a Web-based workflow productivity tool from Integrated Media Management (IMM) that collects information and routes forms within the bank. Superior Bank uses FormSpeed to create electronic forms that pre-fill certain types of information, and has eliminated the need for the back office to re-key information already entered by the document originator. The product also allows users to design their own electronic forms, with data collection and time-based or approval-based routing elements, such as notifying a manager if a certain period of time has passed without action, or sending the document to multiple approval sources at the same time.

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  • The Key to Making Mobile Banking Profitable? Marketing, Aite Says

Bank Technology News

Aite’s latest survey of mobile banking usage, for which it polled more than 1,000 U.S. consumers, turned up five new facts. 1. Other than being younger, mobile banking users are not different from general banking customers. “That’s important,” said senior analyst Ron Shevlin in an interview yesterday. “In the evolution of online banking and bill pay, the early adopters were affluent consumers. That’s not the case with mobile banking, that’s been mainstream right from the start.” Mobile banking early adopters have a similar average income as the non-adopters ($52,952 versus $52,821).

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  • 2011 U.S. Retail Banking Satisfaction Study

JDPower.com

Customer Satisfaction: JD Power found that retail banks improved customer satisfaction for the first time since 2007. Overall customer satisfaction moved up 4 points to 752 out of 1,000 point scale. Of note, satisfaction in the branch, account opening, product offerings and general brand image materially improved. On the negative side, satisfaction with fees was markedly down.

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  • Mobile Wallet That Saves Me Money? Now, That’s “Smart”

iMedia Connection

You surely will laugh at author Jeff Hasen’s resistance to deposit a check through an ATM machine – in 2011. As progressive as he is about technology, to this day Jeff has always walked into a bank, waited on line and walked out with a deposit record from a teller. On a panel at last week’s Boomer Summit in San Francisco, Intuit’s Omar Green made a case for consumers to be “smarter”. Of course, Jeff has a smartphone – actually he carries two. What Jeff doesn’t have is a smart mobile wallet.

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  • Pay-by-Phone Dialed Back — Carriers Scrap Plans for Their Own Network, Look to Big Credit Card Companies

The Wall Street Journal

The biggest U.S. wireless carriers are scaling back a joint venture for mobile payments that they originally hoped would compete with Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc., reaffirming the traditional credit card companies’ clout in the nascent market for mobile transactions. The venture known as Isis, formed by AT&T Inc., Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile USA, initially aspired to set up its own payments network and collect fees on every transaction. Customers would maintain accounts directly with their wireless carrier, rather than with a credit-card company. Now, the group has adopted the less ambitious goal of setting up a “mobile wallet” that can store and exchange the account information on a users’ existing Visa, MasterCard or other card, people familiar with the matter said. The carriers are scrambling to find other ways to make money from the transactions.

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