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

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/   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...

Industry Perception, Optical Delusion

January 14, 2013
/   Insights

In Washington, they talk a lot about ‘optics.’ This has nothing to do with regulatory scrutiny, or government mandates on eyeglasses. It has to do with perception—how something looks, the way a particular story...

Social Banking: Blessing or Curse?

August 1, 2012
/   Insights

While the topic of Facebook and banking has generated plenty of heat (though not necessarily a lot of light), the debate seems mostly focused on two broad issues: The much-maligned IPO, and the notion...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*Photo credit:

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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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.

Brad Strothkamp

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

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.