What We’re Reading: Omnichannel Banking, Bank Branches, Apple

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.

  • UMB Emulates Apple in Push to Encourage Mobile, Online Use

American Banker

UMB Bank is channeling its inner Apple to encourage more of its customers to use online and mobile banking. The Kansas City, Mo., bank has begun designating tech support specialists in its branches whose job is to help customers understand and use digital services like mobile deposits and online bill pay.

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  • Omnichannel Banking: More Than a Buzzword

Bank Marketing Strategy

Banks are in an unequalled position to understand their customers. They already can see product use, transaction patterns and demographic profiles. By leveraging channel usage insight, they can develop an even more detailed customer profile. Understanding not only what the customer looks like, but also how they conduct their banking can allow for improved product offers using their preferred channel.

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  • Regions, Credit Unions and USAA Sit Atop Customer Experience Rankings

Bank Systems & Technology

The banking and credit card issuer industries both saw significant improvements over last year in the Temkin customer experience ratings. Regions and credit unions earned the highest customer experience scores among banks in the 2014 Temkin Experience Ratings, released earlier today. Regions and credit unions tied with scores of 81%, followed closely by USAA and TD with scores of 80%, and USAA also earned the highest score among credit card issuers with 77%. Overall both the banking and credit card issuing industries improved their scores over last year.

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  • BBVA creates digital banking unit

Finextra

Spain’s Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria has established a digital banking unit in a bid to boost the development of its various technology-led businesses. The new business area is charged with leading the bank’s digital transformation around the world, running its multi-channel strategy and the design of operational and commercial processes.  It will also work on developing new business lines, overseeing internal developments such as the Wizzo app as well as the bank’s startup investments made through its $100 million venture fund and Simple, the US firm it bought for $117 million last month.

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  • It’s Not Easy for Banks to Sell You on New Services

The Street

Banks spend tons of money figuring out how you like to spend and save money, especially when it comes to using credit cards and mobile banking, two huge profit center for financial institutions. The credit card industry will process about $4 trillion in card transactions this year, according to Business Insider, and Albany, N.Y.-based ResearchMoz reports that mobile banking is also flexing its muscles, growing from 480 million U.S. users at the end of 2012 to 1.08 billion by 2016.

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  • One in Three of Americans Hasn’t Been to the Bank in at Least 6 Months

WSJ Blog

More than a third of people in the U.S. haven’t been to the bank in at least a half of a year, according to a new survey.  People with lower incomes and less education visit bank and credit union branches less often, the Bankrate.com survey found. For example, 35% of people with at least some college education visited a bank in the last week, compared with 21% of people with at most a high-school education.

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What We’re Reading: Branches, Mobile Going Mainstream, Banking Alerts

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.

  • Tech-Savvy Bankers Make the Case for Branches

American Banker

Bank branches may be falling out of favor, but even the most tech-savvy bankers aren’t prepared to renounce them entirely. Take Manolo Sanchez, the chief executive of BBVA Compass, whose bank is spending $117 million to buy the branch-less online startup Simple. You might expect him to declare brick-and-mortar bank locations passé — and yet his company just opened two new branches last week. That’s because customers still want to see branches — even if they don’t go in, and even if they do most of their banking on the computer, the tablet or the mobile phone. Just seeing a physical bank location actually increases a person’s interest in doing business with BBVA Compassonline, he says.

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  • Mobile is Now Mainstream: Report

Bank Systems & Technology 

Mobile banking features play an increasingly critical role in the consumer’s decision to switch primary banks, according to a survey from AlixPartners. Mobile now plays a crucial role in bank-switching decisions made by consumers, according to a new report from AlixPartners.  According to the “AlixPartners Mobile Financial Services Tracking Study,” 60 percent of smartphone or tablet owners who switched primary banks reported mobile banking capabilities as “important” or “extremely important” in their decision to switch, up from 48 percent in a similar survey in the first half of 2013.

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  • Apples and Payments

Celent Banking Blog

What is becoming apparent is that the update is not without its flaws, to say the least. My iPhone, for example, lost half its charge in under an hour, doing nothing. Whilst battery life has never been the iPhones strong point, this was taking the biscuit! Twitter and internet forums have seen significant amounts of discussion on the issues, and it seems to be impacting a large number of people. What was noticeable is that most of the fixes transformed the iPhone to, well, just a phone. Suggestions included turning off apps, turning off search, deleting various elements – in short, many of the reasons why we bought iPhones originally.

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  • Banks buying more time for Windows XP-powered ATMs

Dallas Business Journal

Earlier this year, we told you about the impending problems that many banks might face as Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) ends its support for Windows XP on April 8. Roughly 95 percent of the nation’s ATMs operate on the aging system, and many banks now are having to buy extended support contracts with Microsoft as they try to convert the machines to a new operating system. JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) , for example, has bought a one-year extended life support for its Windows XP machines, CNN/Monday reported. In January, Chase told the DBJ earlier that it was working to upgrade its machines as part of normal operations.

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  • Amazon Tests the Loyalty of Its Prime Members With a 25% Price Hike

Javelin Strategy & Research Blog

After 9 years, Amazon has finally decided to increase the price of its Prime membership – and it’s not an insignificant amount. The cost of Amazon Prime will increase on April 17, 2014 by a hefty $20 (from $79 to $99), and the Prime membership will continue to include free two-day shipping, access to Prime Instant Video, and the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library. The Amazon Prime membership is undoubtedly one of the best online loyalty programs available today, and so this significant price change will likely be a true test of just how much consumers are willing to pay for the perks of free shipping and digital perks.

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  • Monitise launches Alerting+ for interactive m-banking

Mobile Payments Today

Mobile banking technology provider Monitise has launched Alerting+, an alerting solution which enables two-way interaction between financial institutions and their mobile banking customers.

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  • Mobile Banking: Critical Switching Trigger Today… Table Stakes Tomorrow

The Financial Brand

Mobile continues to play an increasing critical role in bank-switching decisions, with 60% of smartphone and tablet users citing mobile banking capabilities as “important” or “extremely important” in their decision to switch banks. According to the “Mobile Financial Services Tracking Study” from AlixPartners, 60% of smartphone or tablet owners who switched primary banks in the fourth quarter said that mobile banking capabilities were an “important” or “extremely important” component in their decision to switch. That’s up dramatically from 48% in a similar survey fielded in the first half of 2013.

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Smile, You’re On Camera

Do you need to see your banker?

It’s a serious question, and the answer represents one possible bridge between the two opposite ends of the retail banking spectrum.

At one end of, course, is the demise of the local outlet as we know it—new branch construction is the butt of jokes, and existing branches are being shut down in apparently record numbers. However, the transition to all-technology, all-of-the-time is not happening overnight, or perhaps even anytime soon. In fact, while foot traffic is clearly down, there seems to still be a huge audience out there of regular consumers who find reason to visit their banker in person. But for that latter category—the good people who need eye-to-eye contact in sensitive communications—is there a technology alternative?

One such model is being tried out at UMB Financial (UMBF) in Kansas City, which has built a reputation for innovation in its market-facing strategies. While joining the mass migration to mobile transactions and other fresh tactics, the institution is turning to video banking to fill the potential gap.

Videoconferencing capabilities at three pilot sites now connect consumers with tellers at the call center, who help customers negotiate the necessary financial tasks. It’s potentially a win-win—the technology speeds up the transaction and frees up trained branch personnel to focus on more difficult issues.

As we’ve documented on this blog, many institutions are experimenting with their retail models, from cutting back drastically on local branches to building in teller pods and community rooms. However, every new tactic has its own issues, and it will be interesting to see how using video plays out.

This technology actually goes to the heart of many issues currently confronting the modern workplace. As online collaboration tools gain greater sophistication and adoption, the idea of working from home is already going from an occasional luxury to the norm. Of course, home could be on the other side of town, or in the suburbs, or another city or even another country.  But as just about all communication becomes virtual, what effect is it having on trust and camaraderie between co-workers?

This is also playing out on the customer side. The service industry in general (and retail industry in particular) is confronting these issues on a regular basis, as store chains and even mom-and-pop outlets try to develop a balance between in-store and e-commerce models.  The hard truth is that we don’t have the answers yet—this is a movement that’s still moving, and will keep moving for some time.

With banking, the other X factor is that it’s about money—many consumers who might otherwise be considered tech-savvy remain skittish about conducting financial transactions online, and the steady stream of stories about data and identify theft don’t do much to instill trust in the process. Would personal interaction and eye contact, even via video cameras, help?

There are other issues to consider too. Most of the time when calling customer support, we have no idea who we’re talking to, and where that person is. There’s been plenty of media buzz about support functions being outsourced overseas: Will bankers based on the other side of the world now appear on camera? Or will there be a new generation of carefully coiffed financial advisors appearing on camera from designated sites—or even from home, assuming the background is industry-appropriate? On the flip side, banks could save on real estate. Oversized branches will be replaced by smaller sites that have only a few key personnel and a bank of workstations, and of course, there’s less chance of a waiting line.

Bottom line: The financial services industry is clearly in a time of huge transition, just like the rest of society, and banks that experiment with new ideas deserve support and encouragement.  Video-enabled banking probably isn’t a panacea, but it could be one of the answers.

What We’re Reading: Google Glass, Payments and Branches

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.

 

  • Google’s Glass Guidelines Provide Clues to Future Bank Apps

American Banker

Banks will be prohibited from advertising on Google Glass, the wearable computing product the tech giant has just started releasing to privileged developers and early adopters. In guidelines and best practices Google released this week, the search engine company told developers it will reject apps for the device — so-called “Glassware” — that it considers an irritation to users. “Google is very clear about apps limiting distraction, not [bothering] people all the time, so this isn’t something that banks can use as a platform to coax their customers 100 times a day,” says Sarah Rotman Epps, an analyst with Forrester Research. “But it is potentially a platform for them to deliver utility when it could be most useful.”

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  • Phablet, Superphone Shipments Expected to Reach 825 Million Units in 2018

American Banker

They may look ridiculous, but phablets and superphones — mini tablets and extra-large phones — have a bright future, according to research released today by Transparency Market Research. According to a new market report, “Phablets and Superphones Market — Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth and Forecast, 2012 — 2018,” the global phablets and superphones market is expected to reach $116.4 billion by 2018, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 44.1% from 2012 to 2018. The number of units of the devices is expected to grow at a CAGR of 25.8% from 2012 to 2018, and reach 825 million by 2018.

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  • Critical Bank Management Skills for the 21st Century

Bank Systems & Technology

In the past, your teams needed to be able to demonstrate a detailed grasp of policy, rigor in analyzing reports, and dedication to data quality — but to tackle today’s challenges, a different form of expertise is required. The rapidly shifting economic and regulatory conditions of the 21st century, mean that market changes often outpace management skills. In the past, your teams needed to be able to demonstrate a detailed grasp of policy, rigor in analyzing reports, and dedication to data quality – but to tackle today’s challenges, a different form of expertise is required.

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  • How Apple and Amazon Will Shape Mobile Payments

Bank Systems & Technology

Apple and Amazon will continue to drive customer expectations and create big shifts in the retail world even if they don’t release a mobile payments solution. Many traditional payments players like banks have been worried for a while about the possibility of Apple entering the mobile payments space at the point of sale. Many speculated that the last iPhone release would include an NFC chip, which did not happen to the relief of those who would have to compete with Apple. Although Apple already has a bridgehead into the payments business thanks to iTunes, experts seem to think Apple will refrain from entering the mobile payments business.

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  • Small Banks Excel at Industry Specialization

Barlow Research Analyst’s Journal

Many business banking customers value financial institutions and banking relationships that cater to their specific industry’s needs. Unfortunately, not all business customers believe their bank is industry-focused. However, customers that believe their primary bank caters to their specific industry needs appear to be more confident about the financial condition of their company, as well as their industry and believe their banker is more knowledgeable about their business. Barlow Research’s Second Quarter 2013 Economic Pulse provides valuable information about business banking customers’ need for industry-focused financial institutions.

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  • The five layers of Online banking security

CIOL

It is becoming increasingly critical that financial institutions ensure their consumer and corporate banking customers are able to access their accounts with the highest reasonable security, using a process that is very straightforward and approachable. There have been significant changes in the threat landscape for online banking. In order to protect customers using Internet-based products and services, such as applications, the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FIEC) and other regulators have instituted significantly more stringent requirements for financial institutions. Ensuring a compliant security program requires the execution of a good, multi-faceted authentication solution.

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  • Retailers likely to be winners in m-payments, with banks making it work, suggests leading banker

Internet Retailer

Mobile payments is currently a three way battle for consumers being fought out between retailers, banks and mobile network operators – each keen to ‘own the customer’ – but it will be retailers and banks that win, leading m-payment experts concluded at the International Payment Summit (IPS) in London last week. Mobile operators are likely to end up just as dumb pipes. Retailers, banks and operators are all looking towards mobile wallets as the key to mobile payments and this is likely how the technology will start to gain traction in mainstream retail and it is through this that mobile payments will start to be used. But who will brand the wallets and how do you make sure not every retailer, bank and brand that a consumer uses has its own wallet?

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  • What Bank Branch Closures Mean for Consumers

U.S. News

The traditional notion of banking, in which customers visit their local branch to deposit money, check their balance or take out a loan, may no longer be the reality. In the past year, American banks shuttered more than 2,000 branch locations—and news of additional closings appears on a regular basis. Banks cite rising operation costs and shifts in consumer-banking behaviors as primary causes for reducing the number of branches. For banks, these decisions are a matter of improving their bottom line, but for customers, these closings may force them to develop new habits. In one way or another, most people are likely to notice a change in how they interact with their bank.

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