What We’re Reading: Mobile App Mistakes, Security and Voice-Recognition

 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 or Tweet @bankingdotcom.

  • Smartphone users worldwide seek more mobile banking services

ABA Banking Journal

Smartphone consumers want to do much more mobile banking than most of today’s smartphone apps permit, according to an international survey by FICO. While the most requested functionality is the ability to check account balances (75%), more than half of respondents want to receive notifications of potential fraudulent activity (59%), make payments from their account (53%), and transfer money between their accounts (50%) using their smartphone.

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  • The Biggest Mistakes Banks Make in Mobile App Design

American Banker

How can banks make their mobile apps more competitive? We recently asked Greg Nudelman, principal and CEO of San Francisco-based DesignCaffeine, who has worked with USAA, Intuit, and Wells Fargo on app design, about his pet peeves. Too many people try to approach app development the way they approach web development. ]That’s the completely wrong question to ask. They’re missing the entire opportunity that is presented by devices. You have to start from the ground up. The best way to approach that is lean methodology.

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  • A Guide to Winning the Mobile Banking Arms Race

Bank Systems & Technology

The rapid pace of change occurring in the financial services market largely driven by growing consumer adoption of mobile is permanently altering the retail banking landscape. More and more, offering basic mobile banking capabilities is perceived by consumers as mere table stakes when it comes to evaluating their banking relationship. Differentiation in the mobile channel is critical for financial institutions (FIs) to attract and retain customers and to reap the resulting revenue benefits. To achieve this, new features must be continually introduced, and at a frequent cadence to keep up with consumer expectations.

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  • Psst, Want to Know What Bank of America Spends on Mobile?

Bank Innovation Net

Mobile continued to grow in importance as a channel for the Charlotte, N.C.-based bank, with 14.4 million mobile customers, up from 14 million last quarter and 12 million a year ago. We dug into BofA’s earnings reports and found that CEO Brian Moynihan revealed the bank’s tech spend to grow its mobile channel during today’s 4Q 2013 earnings call. Moynihan said the bank had invested “half a billion dollars in the online mobile platform across the last three or four years, and we’ll continue to invest at that rate.”

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  • Major security holes found in 90% of top mobile banking apps


Security is important in every app, of course, but if there is one group of mobile apps that users want to be secure even more so than any others, it’s probably mobile banking apps. It will undoubtedly come as a shock, however, that a new study has found 90% of mobile banking apps from top banks have serious security vulnerabilities that could potentially compromise sensitive user data. Security researcher Ariel Sanchez of IOActive recently published his findings after diving into home banking iPhone and iPad apps from 40 of the 60 top banks in the world.

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  • Wells Fargo tests voice-recognition mobile technology

Charlotte Observer

Imagine picking up your phone and being able to ask, “How much did I spend at restaurants last month?” That scenario might be in the not-too-distant future. Wells Fargo has begun testing voice recognition technology that would break ground on how customers interact with their smartphones. U.S. Bank said last year it was testing the technology among its employees. Insurers Geico and USAA have also incorporated voice recognition in their applications. Wells Fargo does not yet have a time frame for launching its version.

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  • Defining Social Media’s Purpose Can Help Produce ROI

Credit Union Times

In 2012, the $55 billion, Vienna, Va.-based Navy Federal Credit Union said it launched its “4 Million Members, 4 Million Stories” campaign as a way to thank its members for helping to reach the member milestone. The concept revolved around members submitting videos to share what they loved about Navy Federal on Facebook and to vote for their favorites to win prizes ranging from $4,000 and $1,000 certificates of deposit to $100 gift cards. During the giveaway, the credit union took the opportunity to promote auto loan refinancing and CDs via a mix of strategically crafted posts and paid Facebook ads.

Read more http://www.cutimes.com/2014/01/22/defining-social-medias-purpose-can-help-produce-ro


What We’re Reading: Online Banking, Mobile Wallets, Retail Banking

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 or Tweet @bankingdotcom.

  • Why Cost-Conscious Bankers Should Cheer an Appless Future

American Banker

Attention cost-conscious bankers: tiny University of Wisconsin Credit Union may have begun cutting a path to building mobile apps at a fraction of today’s typical cost. In what appear to the first such move of its kind, the $1.6 billion-asset outfit has done so by designing a mobile bill-pay function for an off-the-shelf web browser. The upside of this approach is that creating smartphone and tablet software is expensive, especially when it involves developing multiple versions for multiple types of devices. At most banks, that involves building apps for Android, Apple and even the fast-fading BlackBerry.

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  • Is Online Banking Dead?

Celent Banking Blog

Banks can’t afford to drop the online banking ball. There are several key reasons for this: The online channel is still the most popular with consumers of all ages. The results of our most recent consumer survey (September 2013) are quite clear.  While mobile is certainly growing in importance and popularity, online still rules. Most tablet banking apps are pitiful. Kudos to the banks that have ventured down this road as it’s an interesting and exciting space. However, we recently reviewed the tablet apps of the top banks in the US, and most can’t compete with the features, functionality or experience of classic online banking. I recently spoke with a bank that had just finished doing some customer research to evaluate how customers were using their tablet app.

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  • A Tale Of Two Futuristic ATMs

Credit Union Journal

As Fexco and First Data demonstrated their futuristic ATM concept, which allows consumers to use a mobile phone instead of a card for access, they emphasized that the CU or bank is at the heart of the offering – everything about the technology could be changed to the bank’s whim. And as Lamassu took the same stage to pitch a very similar device, which reads from a consumer’s mobile phone to access a Bitcoin wallet, a very different message came across: “Our machines are, in a sense, bankless ATMs,” said Lamassu co-founder Zach Harvey. Each company presented its product during the Payments Innovation Day session of PaymentsSource’s ATM, Debit and Prepaid Forum here.

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  • With IPO In Sight, Lending Club Looks To Upend Banking Industry


Laplanche is recounting the five-day Transpacific yacht race in July from Los Angeles to Hawaii on the company-sponsored yacht. His team won the multihull division race with the second-fastest time ever. The most harrowing part of the race was when the vessel was struck by what looked like a telephone pole, seriously damaging the center board of the boat. But Laplanche recalls the incident like it was a walk to the corner store. Laplanche is no stranger to sailing; he started sailing at age 10, began sailing competitively at 14, and later won two French sailing championships.

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  • PayPal Nudges out Visa in Javelin “TIP” Mobile Wallet Rankings

Javelin Strategy & Research Blog

Who is winning the mobile wallet race? The answer might surprise you. PayPal moved up strongly in Javelin’s TIP (Trust-Innovation-Privacy) consumer rankings to grab the lead from Visa this year. PayPal is the most trusted brand among consumers compared to Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook, and compared to the top banks, major payment networks and largest mobile network operators.

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  • Three Essential Priorities for the Retail Banking IT Roadmap of 2014

Tower Group Blog

As we move into the Q4 2013, retail banking IT executives should consider three crucial priorities as they begin to assemble an IT investment roadmap for 2014. Optimize the IT Delivery Model: The pace of technology development and acquisition continues to accelerate, amplifying the difficulty of integrating new technology with outdated legacy systems. Target Channel Investments to Maximize Customer Engagement: Customers are rapidly migrating to digital channels, performing an increasing proportion of banking tasks through online and mobile channels rather than through the branch or call center. Identify the ROI of Investments in Mobility: Many banks are making significant investments in mobile technology despite a lack of clarity about mobility’s impact on loyalty or revenue.

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Killer App, circa 2013

Anyone have fond memories of the term ‘killer app?’ More to the point, what would a new killer app for the banking and finance world look like? What exactly would it do?

It’s not that the phrase has gone away, but over the years, it seems to have been overtaken by marketing hype—so many new releases are routinely tagged this way that a collective yawn seems to be the only appropriate response. That’s unfortunate, because a true killer app really does make a huge difference. It can by itself generate an industry shift, propel a new technology paradigm and markedly alter end-user habits, particularly by introducing business professionals and home consumers alike to new ways of doing things.

With regard to finance, Visicalc played exactly this role more than 30 years ago. As the first spreadsheet to appear on PCs, specifically the Apple II, it helped change the perception of the entire field of computing. What were previously seen as toys for geeks became serious business tools, and a whole generation climbed aboard the technology train. The Lotus 1-2-3 similarly propelled sales of the IBM PC, which in turn spawned a vast hardware and software industry. And while it’s easy to be dismissive of video games as creative time-wasters, releases like Quake helped drive the development and adoption of 3D accelerators in home computing, which in turn raised the stakes for other technologies.

These days, perhaps more than new hardware, one tool that propels other forms of innovation is the API, or application programming interface. Simply put, by serving as a common language that enables different kinds of software to communicate with each other, it eases and speeds the development of new apps—perhaps even killer apps.

Intuit seems to think so. In search of the “next killer finance app,” the company, for the first time in its history, is opening the APIs to its financial data service in the U.S. and Canada. The move gives third-party developers unprecedented access to the financial data service that powers Quicken, QuickBooks, Mint.com, and FinanceWorks. In fact, developers can now to tap into transaction information from 19,000 financial institutions, auto-categorize the data, and embed it into whatever applications they develop.

Innovation in this field has frequently been driven by the ease with which vast amounts data can be accessed, collated and packaged. The new releases have the potential to take developers and users alike many steps forward in harnessing new capabilities. The new APIs are available on a limited basis now through the Intuit Partner Platform, with wider availability to come in December.

One early program that has already built on the new service is SaveUp, a free rewards game for saving money and reducing debt. Customers can securely access data from just about any financial source, while the company tracks their financial actions and offers rewards accordingly.

Here’s the thing about killer apps: We never see them coming, yet when they do, we wonder how we ever got along without them. It’s easy to say that we already have more apps than we need, while financial institutions and independent software developers alike come up with new ones every day. Sure, new mobile devices keep emerging, and we need new software just to keep up. But completely new applications offering completely new capabilities that will change how we do everything? That’s not going to happen.

Sure—just like we were never going to use our phones to do anything but talk.

So, getting back to the key question, what will a new killer app for finance look like? Rampant speculation welcome.

*Photo credit:

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Internal Revenue Service Launches Tech-Savvy App

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) launched a smart phone app this week that allows tax payers to check the status of their tax refunds and receive helpful tax information via mobile phones. The app, which is called IRS2Go, is the first app created by the IRS and is a high-tech jump for the government agency coined as “Uncle Sam.”

Mark Schwanhausser at Javelin Strategy and Research notes that the IRS jumped into a lucrative mobile market, something bankers should embrace as well.

Schwanhausser writes:

“The IRS will tout this publicly as “customer” service – and it is. But the reality is this is a smart money-saving move. As we noted in our 2010 Online Banking and Bill Payment Forecast report in October, the financial services industry can save $1.4 billion by steering more online-banking customers to head online or to their mobile devices rather than schlepping to a branch or phoning the call center when they have a customer-service question. The IRS stands to save handsomely if it can shift a few million refund queries to mobile devices.”

Does your FI offer a mobile app to customers? Leave us a comment below.