Today, the value of the brick-and-mortar banking experience is fading quickly and mobile banking transactions are filling the void. But it seems that consumers are not so pleased with most mobile app experiences out in the marketplace, particularly with the big banks. The basic features of account balances, transfers and mobile check deposits are expected basic functionality, but it’s not enough. Users want value beyond just transactions; customers want enriched interactions to understand what their money can do for them. The key to winning in the mobile banking space is relevance – whoever can make the mobile banking experience the most relevant to a user will win the revolution
What is relevance?
Relevance creates a personalized user experience: know what I want, when I want it, before I ask for it and make me smarter. From smartphones to wearable technology (e.g. Google Glass, smart watches, activity trackers, etc.), personal finance is interwoven into our everyday activities. Between the quantifiable self, need-to-know, and constant connectivity, our desire to be engaged with our money is increasing, changing our behavior and evolving what is expected from banks.
The experience can’t be just ordinary, it has to be extraordinary. If you simply spout numbers and balances, you’re not replacing the personalization that is eliminated when a user chooses mobile banking over their local branch with tellers. Mobile banking needs to help explain what a user’s money and transactions mean and what they can do. Users want an experience that is contextual, not just based on location, but also based on previous transactions, current account balances, and what is being planned for the near and long-term future. Banking data can be used to drive key decision points for consumers. The user expects the experience to be not only visually appealing, seamless and pleasurable, but also to take advantage of the latest technologies. Why can’t I know my current balance from my smart watch or Google Glass? A critical aspect of relevance is interacting with consumers where they prefer to interact.
So the big question is, who is winning?
Right now, it’s the startups – apps like Simple, Moven and Level. The start-ups are more nimble and are taking more risk to stay relevant. They’ve pushed beyond just a transactional experience to a lifestyle utility. They aren’t just a source of information, but are tapping into what money can help with, in a very personalized way. No one wants to see only how much they owe on their credit card. For many users, looking at a bank account is more of a source of stress. It has remained a relationship that was strictly transactional with deposits and payments. But when you help the user manage their money and look ahead at what their money can do for them, you become a source of hope. Users want a relationship where someone is looking out for them, understanding their motivation and goals.
Big banks are not out of the game yet. The new start-ups are missing years of data, historical trends and key partnerships. In order to delve into a rich contextual experience means tapping into Big Data and banking trends. So, my advice for the big banks? Put your customer and his or her experience first. Continue to innovate, rapidly iterate and bring new solutions to market quickly instead of getting stuck in analysis paralysis and letting start-ups beat you to the best in mobile banking. Find ways that you can use disruptive technologies and a contextual experience to create more frequent and more relevant touch points for your user.
Last, but not least, the brick and mortar isn’t really dead. A true user-centered mobile experience can be a catalyst to drive a better experience across all of your channels, which is something the start-ups don’t have. The mobile banking ecosystem is still in its infancy. As it evolves, the ones to win the revolution will be those who innovate quickly and put a relevant, cross-channel user experience above all else.
Marisa Mann, Director of Solution Delivery at Solstice Mobile: Marisa brings over 15 years of experience in consulting and financial services industries to the Solstice team, working on large scale enterprise initiatives across many technologies, including specializing in the digital space – Internet and mobile. Mann is passionate about mobile and the endless possibilities for the enterprise, delivering business value through strong brand recognition and driving to excellence in the consumer experience. Prior to Solstice, Mann worked at JP Morgan Chase, Diamond Management and Technology Consultants, Washington Mutual, Inc, and Accenture.
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.
- What’s new is what’s happening
It’s big deal when your company is named in a list of the “world’s top 100” anything, and it’s a really big deal when your company is listed on Forbes’ “World’s 100 Most Innovative Companies.” So the people at FIS—or more specifically, Fidelity National Information Services—should rightly feel pretty good about their recent placement on this very list, at the 98th spot. It’s the only U.S. financial technology provider there, which includes such other companies as Apple, at a surprisingly distant No. 79, Pepsi, at No. 58, and Google, at No. 47.
- Bank Fees Rankle Otherwise Satisfied Customers: Survey
Checking account fees may help banks pad revenue, but a new survey suggests that ATM and overdraft charges can send customers running. Over a third of Americans said they would be very or extremely likely to switch banks to avoid paying fees on their checking accounts, according to TD Bank’s inaugural survey of more than 3,000 consumers. In fact, 14% of respondents have already moved their business for those reasons. Some types of charges aggravate customers more than others; 38% of respondents said that nonbank ATM fees were the most frustrating type of charge. Another 27% awarded that dubious honor to overdraft charges. Just 13% picked minimum balance fees as the most annoying type of charge.
- Microsoft and Nokia: What Kind of Marriage Will It Be?
Microsoft announced that it has purchased Nokia’s mobile phone business. According to the announcement, “Under the terms of the agreement, Microsoft will pay EUR 3.79 billion to purchase substantially all of Nokia’s Devices & Services business, and EUR 1.65 billion to license Nokia’s patents, for a total transaction price of EUR 5.44 billion in cash.” Both companies have been struggling to adapt to changes in mobile computing – Nokia has lost its leadership in handsets, and Microsoft was rather late in announcing its latest Windows mobile operating system, which remains a distant third to Apple and Android.
- ‘Stache & Save’ Helps Kinecta Connect On Facebook
Kinecta FCU here boosted its Facebook engagement by using mustaches and an online slot machine. Kinecta launched it “Stache & Save” campaign as a way to increase engagement on its Facebook page and grow its number of likes. To do so, it created an online slot machine, and when users pulled the digital handle, it rotated through three different mustaches. Three matches made for an instant winner of a $50 gift certificate and was entered into a drawing for a $2,500 gift certificate.
- Big Data and Payments Drive Loyalty in Business Banking.
In the ‘consumer edition’ of the blog it was suggested that banks can reinvigorate their payments brand and influence customer loyalty by integrating incentives and offers to their payments solutions. The premise is that banks are missing out on an opportunity to become more influential in where people shop and what they buy, rather than just how they pay. Offers can be driven by analytics into a combination of historical payments information and big data analysis of demographics, location positioning and peer group analysis. Such a strategy requires more than an offers solution, or a mobile banking app.
- The Path to Innovation Goes Through the Cloud
As cloud adoption reaches the tipping point, some sectors are seeing newer market entrants threatening to overtake legacy players mired in tradition. Gartner predicts that the worldwide cloud services market will grow 18.5 percent in 2013 to total $131 billion, up from $111 billion in 2012. Yet, many of the world’s oldest professions such as accounting, legal and banking have been slow to tap the cloud to make it rain. The flexibility of cloud computing – being able to try before you buy, scale easily and use the device that suits you – allow savvy businesses to respond quickly to market trends and demands.
- 6 Tips for Safer Smartphone Banking
More than half of American adults have a smartphone today, and more of us are using them to check balances, pay bills, deposit checks and conduct other banking business. Luckily, experts say there are steps that even non-technophiles can easily take to safeguard sensitive information. Password-protect your phone. Stay off public wi-fi networks. Use the bank’s app. Don’t save your log-in data. Keep up with updates. Log off when you’re done.
How many friends do you have? Are they really friends? And does that same standard apply to your Facebook friends? Think hard, because your answers to those questions could spell the difference between you getting a loan, and not getting a loan.
It was bound to happen eventually. We all know how our use of social media leads to the creation of mountains of data about each of us. Marketers look at all that data to decide which commercial messages are most appropriate. Political campaigns analyze meta tags from Tweets to decide whether we’re swing voters, and which ads we should get. And now, we’re beginning to learn how bankers are combing through Facebook relationships to help gauge creditworthiness. On a related front, a growing number of tech startups is coming up with tools and methodologies to meet this need.
Let’s back up a second. How did we get from FICO to Facebook? What exactly do social networks have to do with loan applications?
Quite a lot, it turns out. The belief is that we typically connect with like-minded people, good or bad. In ye olden days, that meant asking for references from friends and family. Now, technology plays that role. Hence, if you have Facebook friends who defaulted on their loans, and if you interact with them on a regular basis, you might be the type to default too.
The companies offering these services see their mission in a more positive light. Lenddo, for example, says it helps the emerging middle class use social connections to build their creditworthiness and access financial services. However, could the same information be used to block a loan?
It was only a few years before Mark Zuckerberg dreamed up the almighty Facebook that British anthropologist Robin Dunbar developed what we know as Dunbar’s Number. Using research conducted on primates and building on the size of the average human brain, the theory suggests that there is a cognitive limit to the number of people with whom any individual can maintain social relationships. Dunbar posited that the number is about 150.
Random as it sounds, the figure comes up at numerous points throughout history. From Roman military history on down, the smallest autonomous military unit, the company, has typically been capped at 150 soldiers. Neolithic farming villages peaked at 150 members. Hutterite communities historically split when they reached 150.
For the record, Dunbar’s influence is now being recognized throughout the tech world. The Facebook crowd knows him well, and other firms are using his ideas to fuel their product development for the social media world. It’s why the messaging and photo-sharing service Path specifically limits users to 150 friends.
So maybe it’s a question we need to ask ourselves: Are all those Facebook friends really friends? At best, they might devalue the term; at worst, they could hurt our credit rating.
It’s not only Facebook, of course—as adherents of Big Data know, virtually every kind of online activity generates data points that contributes to the algorithm that computes the eventual credit score. What did you buy off eBay? What kinds of things do you get from Amazon? How active are you on PayPal? Who do you follow on Twitter?
To be sure, the genie is not going back in the bottle. Any given service we use regularly now might fall off our radar tomorrow (think MySpace), but the basic premise of social networking, and the behavioral changes the practice has induced, are here to stay. It’s unfortunate that a random re-Tweet or Facebook post can have such severe consequences. It’s also the reality.
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.
- Small Business Owners to Banks: Meet My Needs
Small businesses want banks to add more of a personal touch. Nearly a quarter of owners of companies with less than $10 million in annual revenue want their bank to make adjustments to meet their individual needs, according to a survey published Monday by U.S. Bank (USB). More than 20% of small businesses owners also want their banks to make more money available and to connect them with other small business owners. A fifth of those who participated in the study want their bank to serve as a financial mentor, according to the fourth edition of the Small Business Annual Survey.
- Using Big Data to Fight Phishing
Using so-called big data to develop phishing intelligence systems that can connect e-mail attacks to specific criminal activities and groups over time is a good way to thwart targeted schemes, researcher Gary Warner of the University of Alabama at Birmingham says during an interview with Information Security Media Group. Rather than relying on e-mail signatures to filter out spam, Warner says organizations should rely on the e-mail data and statistics they collect. “We need to do more proper analysis of the log data,” he says.
- Mobile Growing, But Still Not Preferred Channel
Jason Malo, a research director in the CEB TowerGroup’s Retail Banking and Cards practice, reported that the majority of mobile bankers use the channel for alerts, with occasional transactional capability. According to a recent TowerGroup survey of mobile banking consumers, 54% said the most important mobile function to them was being able to receive notification from their bank about irregular account activity or changes to their account. That was followed by 51% who reported their most important mobile function was bill pay capabilities, while 46% listed notification of low account balance as the function they most wanted from mobile banking. 43% of respondents listed remote deposit capture capabilities as what they most desired from the mobile channel.
- Banks plot major shrinking of branches
To cut costs bankers say hello to banking’s brave, new, cramped world. At about 1,000 square feet, [a new prototype branch is] 75% smaller than the traditional Wells Fargo outpost upstairs. Driven by changing consumer behavior and the urgent need to reduce costs, banks are devising ways to cut their branches down to size. Wells Fargo opened its first next-generation branch in April in Washington, D.C., and is looking to open seriously shrunken branches in New York and other major cities. JPMorgan Chase & Co. has started building branches that are 25% smaller than older models.
- A New Social Media Platform For Advisors
The progress of social media is inexorable and inevitable. Yet many financial advisors are still trying to figure out how to play the game without getting into hot water with regulators. Finect, a New York City company, has recently rolled out an online platform aimed specifically at the financial services industry. The company believes it can help financial advisors meet their professional and compliance needs in the social media era. “Financial advisors are tiptoeing around social media and are looking for help to move forward,” says Jennifer Openshaw, Finect’s president.
- In-Branch Tablet Banking Kiosks: Ideas, Opportunities and Costs
The introduction of the iPad brought with it a whole new world of marketing opportunities for banks and credit unions. What are some examples of things bank and credit union marketers are currently doing with tablet kiosks? Jon VanderMeer, CEO/Kiosk & Display: The capabilities for kiosks and tablets is about 99% the same, only the form factor is different. Potential tablet uses include: In-branch demos, training and troubleshooting, onboarding new customers into online banking, and digital alternative to printed brochures where branch visitors can review and compare products.
- Financial Pain Ensues When Custodians of Health Fail to be Good Stewards of Privacy
The healthcare industry stores massive amounts of PII, and it is incumbent on them to protect that data from theft. According to Javelin research, approximately 1 in 9 data breach victims in 2010 were fraud victims – this correlation grew to 1 in 4 as of 2012! Social Security numbers are the keys to the castle when it comes to financial accounts. In our 2013 Banking Identity Safety Scorecard, 80% of the institutions examined still allowed consumers to authenticate themselves with SSNs.
- Mobile Remote Deposit Capture and More Convenient Banking
Mobile remote deposit capture (MRDC) has become banking technology’s must have for 2013. But MRDC is just the beginning of how the camera changes banking. Next up: picture bill pay. It works like this: You get a bill. You could input biller data – account numbers, addresses, all those details – into online banking. Or you could snap a picture of the bill and let the software – developed by the same folks who created MRDC – populate a payment form with all that information that has been harvested from the bill.
- Banking by Voice Gets Test From U.S. Bank
Smartphone users are just getting used to issuing voice demands to make phone calls, get directions or ask for dining-out options. Now mobile phone users may be getting another audible option: using voice commands to conduct personal banking. U.S. Bank is testing a voice-banking service that enables customers to check account balances, review transactions and pay bills solely through voice activation. For now, U.S. Bank is limiting the app test campaign to its FlexPerks Travel Rewards program and to its employees; the voice-activated technology comes from Nuance Nina Mobile, and is now limited to iPhone and Android phones.
*This post originally appeared on Payments Journal
In the coming weeks, federal regulators from the Federal Trade Commission are expected to outline new rules which will make collecting information from children’s online activities much more difficult without parental consent. Mary Engle, the associate director of the advertising practices division at the Commission states, “Today, almost every child has a computer in his pocket and it’s that much harder for parents to monitor what their kids are doing online, who they are interacting with, and what information they are sharing.” She continues, “The concern is that a lot of this may be going on without anybody’s knowledge.”
The current federal rule, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998, has become outdated due to new technological advances, say privacy advocate groups, despite the rule mandating the need for websites to obtain parental permission to collect sensitive personal information from children under 13. For example, under the existing rule, no regulation existed monitoring the use of webcams and online photography. However, regulators are expected to mandate that companies seeking children under 13 to submit photos of themselves online would require parental consent.
Generation Z children are the most computer and Internet literate generation in history, and with new technologies and applications continually produced that involve the exchange of personal information, privacy rules are vital. While no one is debating the importance of maintaining the safety of children, both online and offline, the new rules could potentially have a substantial effect on the payment industry, particularly for firms involved in the collection of information and social media websites.
The growing number of Generation Z online users means that the market represents a potential goldmine for online realtors and marketers. The new rules, however, will likely change the ability of firms to accurately target and market their goods and services for the teen and pre-teen markets online. While the added security in the new regulations will provide for children is important, it will slow the growth and development of payment-related technologies for this emerging demographic.
Tristan Hugo-Webb is an analyst with the Mercator Advisory Group covering the international market and U.S. debit card market. His responsibilities include covering new U.S. and international legislative regulations and analyzing their impact on the payment industry in the U.S. and around the world. Tristan is also a frequent contributor to Payments Journal, writing on a series of payments industry issues.
Tristan is a graduate of Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ, with a BS in Diplomacy and International Relations and Minors in Economics and French. He has spent several years living abroad including stays in Italy, Germany and Niger.
It’s hard to escape the hype around big data these days. From magazines to newspapers to TV, discussions of big data are everywhere. But for the average business or software developer, what does big data mean? What is its promise or potential? The answer depends on the business.
For Google, Facebook and others, big data is intelligence and revenue rolled into one. In cases like the British Museum, it’s about preserving and making freely available a corpus of better than 150 million assets, from maps to musical scores. But even the smallest businesses can begin to use data in new and creative ways.
Consider the case of seasonal retail businesses, such as hardware stores. In years past, store owners manually managed inventory, attempting to anticipate demand for their wares. Today, forward-looking businesses incorporate big data into that decision-making process.
Some turn to predictive algorithms, which are primed with years of inventory data to render better, more accurate projections of demand. Others factor freely available weather data into their inventory predictions. When long-term drought conditions are forecast, as they were prior to this spring, intelligent hardware store owners could lower their inventory of garden hoses and sprinklers and stock the parts necessary for deeper wells that may be dug.
And it goes far beyond internal or general sources, such as weather data. Two years ago the New York Times examined Netflix data to determine which movies were being rented, by neighborhood, in a dozen cities. If you were an entrepreneur looking to open a comic book store, knowing where the fans lived for movies like “Batman Begins,” “Captain America” or “Thor” would be invaluable. Or if you were opening a cooking supply store, planning your location and marketing around which boroughs were consumed by Julie and Julia could be a real competitive advantage.
The nonprofit sector can also benefit from big data. U.S. government census data, made available via the open API at www.census.gov, offers insights on poverty and homelessness. The Cornell Program on Applied Demographics, for example, uses the API to layer poverty statistics onto a map. From there, a savvy nonprofit could turn to the ProgrammableWeb’s collection of nonprofit APIs to tap into databases of potential volunteers.
Whatever the business and whatever the industry, there are datasets – some of them very large indeed – that can help make better decisions faster. The key to effectively using big data is to think creatively about how it can be leveraged. Consultants or contractors won’t necessarily see the same possibilities that you will. But keep an open mind, and big data will more than justify its hype.
*This post originally appeared on the Intuit Network.
About Stephen O’Grady: Stephen is an industry analyst and cofounder of RedMonk. He is based in Maine, a frequent traveler, ardent RedSox fan and focused on helping companies understand developers better and, in general, helping developers do what they do best. He is a paid contributor to the Intuit Network.