Bridging the Generation Gap

Kids today—they don’t know much, but they think they know everything.

That’s the familiar yet only appropriate reaction to the latest deep dive into millennial behavior as it pertains to banking. This one comes from “The Millennial | Financial Behaviors & Needs,” a comprehensive new study commissioned by TD Bank and conducted by Angus Reid Public Opinion. The study samples 2,031 millennials aged 18-34, all of whom have some form of financial relationships.

In what might not be a big surprise, a significant majority of the respondents, 69%, have never taken part in any financial courses, seminars or workshops. But apparently that isn’t a big problem—fully 59% of those surveyed say they’re extremely, very or somewhat knowledgeable about day-to-day banking. And here’s a nugget that will confirm some more stereotypes about this generation.  When they actually do go search for information, nearly half cite parental influence for their opinions in this area, and 40% turn to family for specific advice. Of course, a strong 62% also go online to find answers.

To be sure, none of the findings in the TD Bank is particularly surprising. They do more banking online than in-branch; nearly half favor mobile access, and the numbers keep rising; and so on. Each generation carries with it a level of stereotypes, and this one is no exception. And of course, as with most stereotypes, there is more complexity than is first apparent, and that emerges with more detailed research.

It’s easy to shrug off these studies, but to do that would be a mistake. Negative perceptions aside, millennials do bring real change. And for our industry to survive, let alone thrive, we must do things very differently.

Millennials are the reason why a retail giant like Costco is facing some very real problems. The company is still frequently celebrated in customer service surveys and documentaries alike, but concerns are rising that the membership and bulk-goods business models don’t appeal to younger consumers. That may be one reason why the stock is suffering.

Costco is facing issues in generating and retaining millenial-aged members.

On a related note (since the Costco model is so dependent on customers having cars), the auto industry—which is still in recovery mode after a rough few years and government bailouts for some—is getting worried that those pesky millennials don’t seem to want cars as much as their predecessors did? Is it because, in this economic climate, they just can’t afford to buy what they want? The car makers certainly hope so, but the fact that an alarming number of teenagers haven’t even bothered get a driving license should be cause for concern. Is it because the wealth of social media tools and channels make it less necessary to meet face to face? Is it because in the age of Big Data, these tech-savvy and privileged consumers won’t respond to marketing unless it’s much more customized?

And as even a scan of the headlines will make clear, millennials are the reason why President Obama appeared on a far-outside-the-mainstream outlet like “Between Two Ferns” to pitch his signature legislation, the healthcare law. Critics have savaged the appearance as being beneath the office of the President, but the undeniable truth is that the stunt generated enormous attention and drove unprecedented traffic to the primary healthcare site.

In a sense, we’re not that different from giant retailers, carmakers and the Presidency. We need to get our message out there in order for our customers to come to us. We don’t have to change our identity or our philosophy in the process, just certain strategies and a lot of tactics. But the bottom line is that in appealing to millennials, if we’re not doing things differently, we’re probably doing things wrong.

 

 

The Haves and the Should-Haves

Small business and younger, tech-savvy consumers—these are two market segments that couldn’t be more different. Yet for our purposes, at least, they could be seen as representing two sides of the same coin. For both, there are big obstacles and even bigger opportunities. The key to success on both fronts is to get smarter about what we’re doing.

First, consider the sheer size of the small business market. In a word, it’s big. In fact, with $6 trillion in revenue each year, it’s the second largest economy in the world. That is one huge pie, with profitability enough to go around for everybody. That said, it’s only a ‘market’ in the loosest sense of the term—with some 28 million companies around, it’s too diffuse to identify specific patterns. Besides, it’s a target that’s constantly moving. Thanks to the constant emergence of new online and mobile capabilities, routine best practices and fundamental human behaviors alike keep shifting.

But here are some numbers that should stick with us. Only 14% of small business owners currently use their financial institution’s cash management/business banking solutions. Sad as that sounds, our customers spend 5.4 billion hours each year doing taxes (it takes less time to produce every car, truck and van in the country). And finally, let it be noted that a stunning 66% of small business owners still use personal bank accounts for business.

So that’s what they’re not doing. To get a snapshot of what they could be doing, consider the generational shift. A Digital Insight study of 27 financial institutions found that 84% of mobile bankers fall into what we call the ‘Gen Y’ and ‘Gen X’ categories (to make some of us feel a little older, remember that Gen Y alone will account for close to half of the nation’s personal income within the next 10 years.) This is one ripe demographic.

And how does this translate into tech-savvy behavior that benefits them and us? Online banking customers have 13% more accounts than their offline counterparts. In fact, online banking customers conduct 59% more debit card purchases and have a 7% higher annual retention than offline customers. Going one level deeper, consider the difference in log-ins: for online banking users, the number is 9.73; for online and mobile users, it’s 18.87; and for online, mobile and tablet users, it’s 29.05.

We may be sick of hearing it, but mobile is a particularly big deal. These consumers conduct 40% more monthly debit card purchases than online non-mobile consumers. Even more significantly, mobile consumers access their financial information 65% more frequently than online non-mobile users.

Underlying all these changes is an even more fundamental shift, and it’s from consuming credit to managing cash. Basically, business customers of every kind want simplified workflows with greater access to financial information and tools, ranging from payments capabilities to asset management. Do traditional cash management solutions do the job? Or are they too complex to meet emerging business needs?

Now for the good news. Nearly 80% of consumers name their bank or credit union as their most trusted online destination to manage finances. According to the Tower Group, business owners’ use of online financial services has risen 17% in just the past year. Online services are among the top three reasons businesses choose their financial institution in the first place (but we warned: Barlow Research tells us that nearly half of business online banking customers would switch banks for better online banking functionality).

So here’s the future of financial management. To get smarter about profitability, credit unions must get to manage every facet of customers’ financial lives. There’s a ton of research telling us this—of the 88% of consumers who now pay bills and transfer funds online, 62% would like a single place to manage their complete financial picture, regardless of where the information originates, and an unbelievable 94% of TurboTax for Online Banking users who used direct deposit for their refund sent it directly to their host financial institution.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the changes taking place in our customer base. If the move to online banking was a big change, then the adoption of mobile tools and services is a seismic shift. Yet the wealth of data we have at our fingertips also offers a clear view into the multitude of opportunities that comes with that transformation. Consumers who actively use technology-enabled services, particularly those offered through mobile channels, undeniably represent higher account ownership, balances, retention, and debit card purchases. They will find, join and be loyal to financial services providers that offer customizable tools and services to meet a wide range of evolving needs. The onus is on us to get smarter about how to meet those needs.

The Zen of Gen-Y

*This post originally appeared on MyBankTracker as a guest post from Banking.com.

At this point it’s almost a cliché to talk about millennials. We know who they are: the generation born between the late ‘70s and late ‘90s, or essentially book-ended by the Vietnam War and 9/11. They’re frequently derided, but can’t be ignored — there are now close to 100 million of them, which means they constitute the bulk of the consumer class. More importantly, they define both the business and lifestyle practices of the modern era. They’re not them anymore — they’re us.

So what does this mean for the business world in general, and the financial services community in particular?

That question periodically generates hot debate, and we seem to be in one of those cycles now. Every shift and each innovation is viewed through this prism, and with good reason. Trends will rise and fall based on its success with this market.

To be clear, every successive generation has its defining characteristics. The Greatest Generation we associate with World War II was clearly unique. The Baby Boomers that followed them set trends that we follow today. Gen-Xers helped lead us into the digital revolution. So what is it about Gen-Y (sounds so much better than “millennials”) that will define our era for those that come after?

An exhaustive study of this demographic (conducted jointly by Service Management Group, Boston Consulting Group and Barkley) identified the key words associated with this group: technology-reliant, image-driven, multi-tasking, open to change, confident, team-oriented, information-rich, impatient and adaptable.

A few of those terms surely have great resonance. “Technology-reliant?” Absolutely. The Internet became mainstream just as this generation reached college age, which means they were its earliest adherents. No wonder, then, that they’re also “information-rich,” not to mention “impatient” and “adaptable.”

The fact that they’re team-oriented is equally significant.  A new article in Investors.com analyzes the distinctive habits of financial advisers from this generation and finds that the key to performance is collaboration—in keeping with their upbringing, they thrive on constant feedback. Of course, they also differ from their predecessors in many ways. Rather than put in extra-long workweeks as their parents did, they want flexibility  in everything from days off to working from home.

Perhaps most importantly, they have a greater sense of security about their savings. This is despite the fact they potentially have a pessimistic outlook, representing a sea-change in attitude from, for example, the election in 2008.

One unmistakable characteristic in the Gen-Y crowd, of course, is the adoption of new technologies. This also has a domino effect, and banks need to stay aware of this phenomenon. For example, remote deposit capture has spread with remarkable speed, which in turn has diminished the value of branch banking — it was often the only reason younger consumers ever entered a bank. Other mobile innovations have had a similar effect, which is why digital accounts now arouse greater interest than ever before. In addition, an entire generation nursed through technological adolescence by the soothing tones of Siri might want someone like “her” guiding them through complex financial transactions.

In a larger sense, if Gen-Y is a significant part of the market now, it essentially is the market (soon). They have enormous clout already, with massive buying power out-sizing influence. They are clearly more fickle, apt to change service providers on a whim, less impressed by brand credibility, and have a more international outlook than earlier generations.

Above all, the fundamental change with Gen-Y, actually, is just that — change. This may be the first generation that can be fairly assured the career they begin with is not the one they’ll end up in. Every aspect of their lives will undergo systemic transformation, often through no fault or desire of their own, and they will need support systems, including banks and accountants, to be similarly adaptable. Financial services providers that can stay ahead of such trends will win their hearts and their business, but be warned, just keeping up will be a challenge.

 

Mobile Banking Revolution (Infographic)

It’s no secret that mobile banking has taken off in recent years and continues to grow by leaps and bounds. To help illustrate just how much mobile banking is growing FICO pulled together an infographic with some impressive mobile stats. For example, did you know that by 2017 an estimated 1 billion people will be using mobile banking? Read on to learn more about the mobile revolution.

Mobile Banking Revolution

FI Spotlight: Star Choice Credit Union

star-choice-credit-union-85699142

Molly McCurdy Star Choice Credit UnionIn our latest FI Spotlight, Banking.com spoke with Molly McCurdy, Marketing Coordinator for Star Choice Credit Union. Molly has been the Marketing Coordinator for Star Choice Credit Union since February 2012, and has been utilizing social media to reach a younger demographic in hopes of lowering the average age of the members at Star Choice Credit Union. We connected with Molly to talk about how Star Choice is engaging members, using social media to drive more intimate customer relationships and recent social campaigns like their Minnesota Wild Hockey promotion.

Q: In a few sentences, can you tell me about Star Choice Credit Union?

What began as the Minneapolis Star Employees Credit Union in 1931 has flourished into Star Choice Credit Union, a strong, healthy, stable financial institution. We are dedicated to making sure members love what we do, and carry out the tradition of people-helping-people by helping our members build strong financial futures and achieve their financial goals.

Q: Do you find social media beneficial to interacting with members?

We have been using social media extensively, especially in the past year, to connect with our current and prospective members. It gives our members another outlet to communicate directly with us, allowing them to post questions and comments about Star Choice as well as expressing their appreciation for our array of products and member services. Social media has allowed us to create a likeable “personality” for our credit union and allows our members to interact with us in a way that isn’t strictly business-related, which they seem to really enjoy.

Q:  Let’s talk social. Star Choice CU is on Facebook and Twitter. Do you view social channels as a good way to interact with customers? Do your members use one platform more heavily than another to engage with you? Do you see a difference in the demographics that use Facebook v. Twitter?  

Social media is an extremely great way to interact with our members. Our Facebook page is generally more member-based, while we interact with a lot of other credit unions and business using Twitter. Our Facebook demographic seems to be younger and more actively engaged than our Twitter page. I utilize Twitter mainly to interact and get insights on what other credit unions and financial institutions are doing, while Facebook is used more heavily and primarily for interacting with current and prospective members of Star Choice.

Q: Star Choice recently launched a sweepstakes encouraging Facebook fans to send their information to win tickets to see the Minnesota Wild take on the Colorado Avalanche.  How has your Minnesota Wild Hockey Ticket promotion helped encourage more engagement?

Since we started the Minnesota Wild Hockey promotion, we went from about 460 Facebook fans to around 530. Not only did we increase the number of “likes” on our Facebook page, but the promotion has sparked a lot of excitement and engagement on our page. People were liking and sharing our posts, encouraging their friends to enter into the ticket drawing, and, as a result, our reach increased dramatically from 687 people towards the beginning on February to around 1,700 this past week.

Q: Are you looking to drive engagement to your credit union within a certain demographic?

The national average age for credit unions is 47 years old, and we are currently at around 46 years old. Our goal is to continue to lower that age, and get the word out about credit unions to a younger demographic and social media is doing a great job helping us achieve that. Seventy five percent of our Facebook demographic is between the ages of 18-44, and that is ultimately the demographic we are trying to reach, so we are right on track.

Q: Let’s talk mobile. You offer mobile banking to your members. What platforms do you offer (iPhone, Android)? Have you seen a surge in mobile banking usage in the last year?

We offer mobile banking to any member who has an internet-enabled mobile device. Last year at this time we had about 1,800 members utilizing our mobile banking services, and right now we have almost 2,000 members taking advantage of our mobile banking. Our mobile banking usage is definitely continuing to increase.

 

Want to hear more from Star Choice Credit Union? Follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

Think your FI deserves special recognition? Submit your FI here.

 

FI Spotlight: Union Bank

Union Bank

Responses by Union Bank Senior Vice President Maha Madain, head of Consumer Deposits and chief designer of Banking By Design

Madain, Maha 2012 300 DPI.jpgQ: You recently unveiled Banking by Design. What was the inspiration behind the new service?
Union Bank’s Banking By Design is an innovative new way of banking that was created in direct response to consumer research and demand for more control and transparency in banking.  It addresses the way consumers live their lives — they want a true value exchange and don’t want to pay for items and services they don’t need or want as part of a bundled product.  Banking  By Design’s innovation builds on the idea that today’s consumer expects the ability to customize and personalize the products and services that are important to them. It’s a step in what will become a cultural shift by banks to adapt our business offerings to suit the customer’s highly individualized needs.

 

 

Q: What has the customer response been to Banking by Design?
Customer response has been positive – existing clients and new customers appreciate the opportunity to customize their checking accounts based on their financial needs.

Q: Is there a specific age group that is using it the most (i.e. Gen Y, Baby Boomers)?
While it’s still too soon to analyze the results, the research indicated that Banking By Design will be more appealing to younger customers (such as Gen Y), although not exclusively.

Q: Has Banking by Design increased account openings for Union Bank?
It’s too soon to determine as we’re still evaluating results.

Q: Are Banking by Design customers traditionally online bankers, in-branch users or mobile users?
We’ve seen a mix of online, in-branch and mobile users.  Consumers can design their account at bankingbydesign.com and then call or visit a Union Bank branch to open the account.  Banking By Design accounts can also be designed in a Union Bank branch with the support of a personal banker, and consumers will have the ability to open their account online in early 2013, giving them yet another convenient option.

Q: In an age when many checking accounts cost money, Banking by Design is low (to no cost) depending on how much a user deposits each month. Do you offer many free services to your customers? What was the decision behind offering this low cost tool?
Banking By Design is an affordable option for our customers and prospective customers. Everyone who wants greater control of their checking account and finances will be empowered with Banking By Design and the ability to design their checking account to meet their needs and their budget. We will continue to offer a range of banking products and services in order to give our customers options and a greater ability to design the services they need based on their individual circumstances.

Q: Where is Banking by Design available? Why did you choose to release the initial launch there? What area you are planning to launch these services next?
Banking By Design is available throughout California, which is where most of Union Bank’s branches are located. We are exploring additional locations, including the Pacific Northwest.

Greater Privacy Regulation For Children Online Will Impact Data Collection

*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.

 

The Impact of Baby Boomers & Seniors on Online Banking

There is a presumption which exists in the world of online banking that baby boomers and seniors do not use their computer and/or mobile device to interact with their financial institution. We’ve all heard the reasons why – security, lack of internet access, or they prefer to bank the way they’ve always banked. However, as a Gen Xer and someone who works in the banking industry, I’ve seen that boomers and seniors do use online banking, and they could fuel the next growth wave within digital banking.

Over the last three years, I have performed portfolio analytics across dozens of Intuit Financial Services’ clients encompassing 2.8 million checking account holders.* These deep dive studies have provided me with insights into the banking behavior of consumers. While baby boomers and seniors have not quite reached the level of adoption rates of online banking as Gen Y/X, it’s hard to ignore their adoption growth over the last several years. Additionally, once baby boomers and seniors become active users of online banking, their engagement within the channel rivals Gen Y/X. Baby boomers and seniors, ages 49-68 and over 68 respectively, account for 46 percent of all open checking account holders.

* See chart below for breakdown by generation and comparison of bank vs credit union.

Across the 2.8 million checking account holder segment I have analyzed, 55 percent of Gen Y (0-28 in age) consumers actively use online banking. This rate is 57 percent for Gen X (29-48); 46% for baby boomers; 27% for Seniors. Those stats probably don’t surprise anyone, but what if I were to say that both baby boomers and seniors demonstrate a higher active use rate for bill payment than GenX and GenY? Granted, Gen Y includes a portion of consumers who (enjoy it while you can) haven’t reached the point in their financial lifecycle to have payment obligations, but it’s probably safe to say that most Gen Xers have monthly obligations. 35 percent of online banking boomers utilize bill payment, compared to 33 percent for seniors and 32 percent for Gen X. Granted, the variance here is very tight across these 3 generations, but the point I’m making here is that boomers and seniors utilize the services within the online channel once they feel comfortable with using online banking. And it’s not just bill payment – Personal Financial Management tools, internal funds transfer, eStatements – boomers and seniors have shown an appetite for these services, and as we know, the more engaged a consumer is within a channel, the less likely they are to leave the financial institution.

According to a study by Market Insights Professionals, “Boomers…are not far behind in embracing the Internet for their shopping needs–two out of three Boomers have researched a product or service online in the past three months, and more than seven out of 10 have made an online purchase during the same time frame. Boomers are the generations with the highest online spending levels.”[i]

What is also interesting within the data I’ve analyzed is the trend over time related to the active use curve of online banking. The traditional product curve for online banking reveals early adopters are younger demographics who embrace technology, have grown up with a computer and internet access, and value anywhere/anytime convenience. Pew Research found that “While the youngest generations are still significantly more likely to use social network sites, the fastest growth has come from internet users 74 and older: social network site usage for this oldest cohort has quadrupled since 2008, from 4% to 16%”[ii]. Technology services such as email, Skype, eBay have become increasingly popular with boomers and seniors, and as their comfort level with technology grows, so too does their adoption rates of online banking. The table below illustrates the online banking behavior of the same checking account holders over a two year period. The annual growth rate of seniors actively using online banking is outperforming all other generations, followed by Gen Y, Boomers, and Gen X. The additional growth in Gen Y is believed to have been fueled by mobile banking.

I know what you’re thinking – because seniors started at such a low adoption rate there was more room for them to grow. That is true, but their rate of growth still exceeded other generations, in part because technology is becoming more commonplace in their household and financial institutions have vastly publicized the security and convenience of online banking. “Older generations become more active as their experience with a new channel increases. Our research shows that as tenure with a digital channel increases, so, too, does a user’s willingness to conduct more complex interactions through that channel — such as selling a security through a mobile phone.”[iii]

While the saturation point of online banking for Gen Y and X might be near, boomers and seniors not only represent the majority of the US population, but their acceptance of online banking continues to grow at a rapid rate. Financial institutions and providers of online banking services must be aware of consumer demographics and perhaps go so far as to customize online banking for those demographics. Whether it’s the font size on the computer screen, products/services presented to the consumer, or changes to secure login credentials, demographics should not be ignored when considering growth in the online banking channel. Do not grow complacent in pursuing this older market. As you can see, there is much opportunity and benefit to attract the older generation. It is observed, that once the baby boomers and seniors gain confidence in the online channel, they will begin to cultivate additional online services, which presents another chance to cross-sell this generation.

About Jason Weinick: Jason is a Senior Analyst with Intuit Financial Services and leads the initiative on client profitability analyses, providing banks and credit unions a valuable in-depth look into the value of the online channel. Jason’s background includes 15 years experience within the financial services sector, focusing on consumer behavior, risk modeling, reporting, and financial analysis. Jason holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from Clemson University.


[i] November 2, 2011: The State Of Consumers And Technology: Benchmark 2011, US, by Gina Sverdlov, for Market Insights Professionals

[iii] June 8, 2011: Mobile And Social Technologies Come Late To Wealth Management: Younger Generations Are Just The First Wave Of Mobile and Social Adopters- by Bill Doyle with Benjamin Ensor, Amelia Martland, and Beth Hoffman

FI Spotlight: Attracting Younger Bank Customers: A Case Study of Yorkshire Building Society

The UK’s Yorkshire Building Society (YBS) is a bank that wanted to be sure they were attracting younger patrons that would become long term loyal customers. When it began looking into traditional marketing approaches geared towards younger consumers, the bank noticed that most banks chose to emphasize savings accounts with competitive rates. Realizing that there was a big assumption on which products in this segment actually wanted, YBS chose to conduct its own market research. Here’s what they did and what they found.

The goal of their market research was to determine the customer orientation of young people. They wanted to find out about the financial requirements of younger customers in order to offer them products that would meet their identified needs. This was a distinct and deliberate shift away from product-led research to a customer-led approach, recognizing that customers are interested in more than just the mix of products and their prices. Consumers also consider non-financial factors that include quality of service, added value and overall customer experience. YBS recognized an opportunity to differentiate itself from competitors by moving beyond the financial value framework.

Yorkshire Building Society
Image source: telegraph.co.uk

The market research began with extensive qualitative focus groups composed of young people in order to find out about their motivations and financial requirements. Two important early findings were that young people have very little desire to save money and that having a debit card is considered extremely important beginning at about age 14. Not surprisingly, the under 12 population is largely dependent upon their parents for all financial decision making. In the 12-15 years of age group, however, young people become more independent and concerned about being able to spend, although with the knowledge that parental protection and advice is nearby. Starting at age 16, most young people have a strong desire to manage their own financial affairs, and this is where the cash card becomes a must-have item.

Another round of focus groups drew upon four distinct market segments organized by life stage: Couples planning to have children, parents who control children’s accounts, youth aged 12-15 that have their own accounts, and young people aged 16-21 with their own accounts. Expectant or new parents were more interested in long-term saving products with an eye on their children’s future, promotions that offered new families relevant “freebies,” and accounts for children that are controlled only by parents.

young bank customers
Image source: mybanktracker.com

By carefully researching the financial requirements of different market segments (in this case, age groups), YBS has been able to develop a comprehensive customer relationship management (CRM) system that keeps messaging highly targeted to the needs of each segment, which is much more effective than a constant barrage of indiscriminate communications.

*This post originally appeared on Instant.ly.

About Elizabeth: Elizabeth A. is a freelance writer whose work on entrepreneurship, tech, and social media has been published by The Huffington Post, PolicyMic, USA Today, and more.  She regularly contributes to the Instant.ly corporate blog.

What We’re Reading: YouTube, Pinterest and Gen Y

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.

  • Chase Has the Best of the Big-Bank Mobile Apps, Forrester Says

American Banker

Forrester Research has evaluated the mobile initiatives of the top four U.S. banks and declared JPMorgan Chase’s the best. The research firm gave the bank a score of 74 out of 100 on its mobile banking functionality, for providing a wide array of mobile money movement options, including funds transfer, bill payment and remote deposit capture. The other three banks — Citi, Bank of America and Wells Fargo — all scored above average in the tests. The overall research report offered a few insights into mobile banking trends: The percentage of mobile banking users has crept up to 17% as of the end of 2011, according to Forrester estimates.

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  • YouTube Casts a Spotlight on Banks’ Social Media Challenges

American Banker

Twitter and Facebook audiences are tough nuts to crack, but the toughest of all is YouTube. YouTube, the dominant online video site, has hundreds of millions of users, but holding their attention is far more difficult than typing out 140-character messages or encouraging customers to “Like” the bank’s brand. Many of the banks that have a YouTube account devote little attention to it; they populate it with repurposed TV ads and prohibit users from leaving comments. Putting in the effort to provide professional-quality and unique content for YouTube keeps customers engaged and even prompts conversations with branch staff, as Lakeland Bancorp’s (LBAI) Lakeland Bank has learned.

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  • Where’s the Tech Support?

American Banker

A recent survey of 1,527 mobile banking users found a gaping void in the typical mobile banking application — a lack of technical support, tutorials and advice. Asked the one improvement they’d most like to see in their mobile banking application, 60% of these consumers said links to and contact information for technical support. Easier navigation and chat tools would help banks improve their overall mobile banking adoption numbers, says Michael McEvoy, managing director at ath Power Consulting, based in Boston and Washington, D.C., the firm that conducted the survey. Another thing that would help: better education about mobile banking services.

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  • 7 Ways Banks Can Use Pinterest

American Banker

Financial institutions could benefit from being active on the fast-growing social media website Pinterest, Corporate Insight has found. Pinterest relies mostly on images instead of text and incorporates different aspects of Twitter and Facebook to connect users. After examining the website, Corporate Insight said Thursday that it found seven financial themes for which companies could use Pinterest to increase their digital presence. These themes were retirement, savings and investment goals, credit card rewards, lifestyle, corporate mascots, contests and charitable giving.

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  • Ally Rolls Out Mobile Banking Offering

Bank Systems & Technology

Direct bank Ally announced it has released a mobile banking app for iPhone and Android mobile phones. Features of the new app include the ability to check account balances, search transaction history, transfer money between Ally Bank accounts and find ATMs and cash-back locations using the phone’s GPS capability. Additionally, Ally is offering a second app for non-customer Android and iPhone users, which will locate nearby ATMs and cash-back locations in the U.S. This app is available to the public and free to download at the App Store and Google Play Store, Ally said.

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  • Leading the Bird: What Bankers Can Learn from Duck Hunting

Celent Banking Blog

Every duck hunter knows that in order to avoid coming home empty-handed, one must aim ahead of the bird – lead the bird as it is commonly referred. The idea is that if one aims directly at the bird, every shot will be a miss no matter how precise the aim. That’s because by the time the bird shot gets in the vicinity of the duck, it will have flown out of the shot pattern. What does this have to do with financial services? Tons! Today’s financial services landscape is challenged with astonishing array of changes, and the rate of change is faster than most have seen in our lifetimes.

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  • Gen Y Found in Branches as Much as Seniors in Fiserv Survey

Credit Union Times

Fiserv Inc. has found Gen Y consumers are not strictly tied to online and mobile banking, based on the company’s latest Consumer Trends Survey. Fiserv said its Gen Y findings include the following: Gen Y members do not limit themselves to online and mobile banking — they’re more likely than any other age segment to visit a branch, drive up to an ATM or phone a call center. For each of the banking services mentioned, Gen Y represents the highest percentage of high volume users (five or more visits/uses per month) than any other age segment. Online banking, debit cards and bank-based bill pay are the top three financial management tools utilized by Gen Y.

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  • Securing smartphones and tablets against banking fraud

Help Net Security

Trusteer announced a new version of the Trusteer Mobile service which prevents mobile and online banking fraud. The service detects mobile malware infection and helps bank customers fix security vulnerabilities on their devices. End users can also turn off access to their online bank accounts from anywhere using their mobile devices and safely access the bank web site via a secure mobile browser. Financial institutions can authorize online banking transactions using Trusteer Mobile Out-of-band Authentication for Android and iOS devices.

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  • The Post-Cash, Post-Credit-Card Economy

New York Times

In London, travelers can buy train tickets with their phones — and hold up the phones for the conductor to see. And in Starbucks coffee shops here in the United States, customers can wave their phones in front of the cash register and without even an abracadabra, pay for their soy chai lattes. Money is not what it used to be, thanks to the Internet. And the pocketbook may soon be destined for the dustbin of history — or at least if some technology companies get their way. The cellphone increasingly contains the essentials of what we need to make transactions.

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