Community Service with the Personal Touch

September 23, 2014
/   Insights

Question: Community branch, personal service, mobile banking—which is the odd one out? Answer: None. Otherwise, the industry is in trouble. For some time now, there have been discussions about the future of community banks...

Cause and Effect: If you build it, will they come?

July 23, 2014
/   Spotlight

Many financial institutions assume that digital banking is lucrative because the most valuable customers happen to bank online. While there is certainly a correlation between online bankers and higher profitability, quantitative evidence suggests that...

Fast Facts: Student Loans

January 22, 2013
/   Insights

The Financial Services Roundtable recently released another iteration of its Fast Facts, reliable, bullet-point research about issues facing the financial services industry. Topics span TARP, Dodd-Frank, insurance, lending, retirement savings and more.  Below are some updated Fast...

Intuit 2020 Report: The Future of Financial Services

April 11, 2011
/   Insights

Today, Intuit released the latest edition of the Intuit 2020 report, Intuit 2020 Report: The Future of Financial Services, which identifies and examines four key trend areas that will  transform the financial services industry...

Small Business: Perception vs. Reality

November 21, 2012
/   Insights

In the most recent election cycle, like most others before it, the one sector of the economy that got the most attention was small business.  This is the future, we were told by every...

The Top 10 Trends in the Digital Banking Industry

December 18, 2013
/   Spotlight

2014 is rapidly approaching and as the year wraps, the Digital Insight team has pulled together the top 10 trends in the digital banking industry based on data and trends from studying financial institutions....

Mobile Banking Engagement: Data from Digital Insight

June 24, 2013
/   Spotlight

Intuit Financial Services has been conducting a comprehensive and ongoing study of financial institution customers. From these studies, the company has been able to provide a deeper view of banking customer behavior across several...

Financial Literacy Month: How are you celebrating?

March 22, 2013
/   Insights

With April approaching, it’s almost time to kick off Financial Literacy Month! Strongly supported by the United States Congress and the Financial Literacy and Education Commission, Financial Literacy Month aims to promote the importance...

CookiesWe need to talk about the cookie.

It’s such a sweet word—warm, comforting, bringing back memories of home. But in this time and this business, it also means something very different. In fact, it symbolizes the constant debate between openness and privacy, an uncomfortable discussion we need to have.

The end of January always brings us Data Privacy Day, as designated by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA). The occasion is typically marked by a smattering of articles on the sensitive topic, particularly if it closely follows a high-profile data breach. This year proved no exception, and again, sensible advice that’s easy to follow is a good thing. The message of caution may be repetitive, but it’s still relevant, and it gets more so with each passing year.

That’s because, with each passing year, we get more of everything—data, devices, channels, applications, scams. The more we talk about privacy, it seems, the less we have of it.

For example, the NCSA asks consumers to celebrate Data Privacy Day hosting events and, of course, by “sharing resources and advice on social media.” It’s a weird irony that some of the tools we use to disseminate that advice will inevitably cost us a little bit of our privacy (any idea how many metatags are associated with each Tweet?).

That brings us back to the cookie, the subject of an interesting new research initiative from an organization with deep roots in the subject, the Interactive Advertising Bureau. “Privacy and Tracking in a Post-Cookie World” offers perspectives not only on the state of affairs as they relate to privacy, but alternative models for data transparency and privacy controls for all constituencies.

The White Paper traces the cookie’s relatively harmless origins, and describes how it has outlived its usefulness in a multi-platform user universe. Rather than identify a single, all-purpose solution—which may be how this option went awry in the first place—the IAB proposes a series of solution classes that can be adapted to develop specific technologies to meet particular industry and customer needs.

Of course, the IAB has a vested interest in learning more about consumers. So do those of us in finance. But that may be where our interests and concerns diverge.

Let’s be clear: Every time a retailer suffers a data breach, or a consumer inadvertently gives away personal financial details, or even a credit card falls into the wrong hands, it comes back to us. Even if it’s not our fault, it’s our problem. The government, other industries and the public will ask what we’re doing wrong. We function at the intersection of money, technology and data, and that means there’s a huge bull’s eye on our industry.

No one reasonably expects us to have all the answers, any more than the IAB does, but that’s no reason why we shouldn’t be asking the questions. The welter of regulations and compliance mandates governing the industry should be seen as a starting point, not a boundary. We want technologies that help us serve our customers better, but that still means walking a sometimes-fine line between extracting relevant information and respecting consumer privacy.

The perfect punctuation mark to Data Privacy Day this year came with the guilty plea from Aleksandr Andreevich Panin, who allegedly created the bank-hacking malware SpyEye, which apparently infected 1.4 million computers. He’ll be spending some quiet time for conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud. Of course, we can rest assured that for every felon behind bars, there’s a bunch out there doing what they do.

Still, out-and-out criminality like this is one issue; data privacy is another. In this environment, we can be blamed for having information customers give us willingly, even if it helps us serve them better.

It would be good to have a range of alternatives to the cookie that meet our customers’ and our industry’s specific needs. Now that’s a comforting thought.

Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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James W. Gabberty

Gabberty is a professor of information systems at Pace University in New York City. An alumnus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and New York University Polytechnic Institute, he has served as an expert witness in telecommunication and information security at the federal and state levels and holds numerous certifications from SANS & ISACA.

Marisa Mann

Marisa Mann 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.

Zachary Ehrlich

25-year-old writer, and as a native San Franciscan, I am unreasonably loyal to Bank of America, if only for their superhero-like origin story, involving the 1906 earthquake and Italian fruit vendors.

Brad Strothkamp

http://www.forrester.com/rb/analyst/brad_strothkamp