What We’re Reading: Underbanked, Mobile Game App, DDoS

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.

  • They May Be Underbanked, But They’re Highly Networked

American Banker

A remarkable 68 million Americans today lack full access to traditional financial services, such as a bank account or credit card, or choose not to use them. Interestingly, though, these financially underserved individuals are far from disconnected. They are actually more active users of mobile phones and social media than the population at large. The vast majority of the so-called “underbanked” are highly networked, using their mobile devices to connect via social media, purchase goods online and, increasingly, conduct financial transactions.

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  • BB&T Teaches Leadership Creed with Mobile Game App

Bank Systems and Technology

The Winston-Salem, N.C., bank released a mobile app this month called Legacy: A BB&T Leadership Challenge, in which users play the role of a medieval hero enlisted by King Alpheus to help the land of Failburg succeed. (The king is named after BB&T founder Alpheus Branch.) Players gain influence – and proceed to the next level of the game – depending on how they interact with the characters.

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  • Biometrics Has Potential in Mobile Banking Apps

Barlow Research

Apple finally delivered on its much hyped biometric capabilities in September when it released its new iPhone 5S with a built in fingerprint identity sensor, Touch ID. It had been rumored to be in the works for several years and the public was finally able to view how the finger printing technology works. Touch ID has some great benefits; it is a user-friendly way to let users get to their information quicker and it also allows a fingerprint to authorize a purchase from the iTunes or App store. These two capabilities have potential for the future of mobile banking apps.

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  • DDoS Growing; CUs Unprepared

Credit Union Times

The DDoS threat keeps growing. Third-party experts and credit union executives—primarily speaking anonymously on the subject—said most credit unions have done nothing to protect themselves against the threat, which has been increasingly linked with theft of funds at financial institutions. “They are remarkably naive,” said an expert, who asked to remain anonymous, of credit unions. Added a senior engineer at a Northeast credit union with more than $500 million in assets, who also requested anonymity, “We haven’t had any outages and we haven’t installed any new defenses.”

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  • Top 100 Banks & Credit Unions Adding The Most New Facebook Likes

Financial Brand

The top 100 banks and credit unions on Facebook ranked by their new ‘Likes’ in the last 90 days through September 2013.

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  • Executives see no letup in mobile trend

Miami Herald

There are 7 billion activated cellphones worldwide, about the same as the population. About 6 billion hours of video are accessed on YouTube every month. Of that, 70 percent is from outside the United States; 25 percent is accessed on mobile devices. On Friday morning, panelists at WorldCity’s Tech Connections event — executives Marcelo Caputo of Telefonica, Jose Antonio Rios of Celistics, Mark Hans-Joachim Crofton of SAP, Juanjo Duran of YouTube and Richard Wadsworth of MasterCard Worldwide — shared these numbers as well as a glimpse into the future. The consensus: There will be no letup in the speed of mobility or big data, particularly in Latin America.

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Creative Social Media Solutions for Banks

Most banks and financial institutions have a Twitter feed and a Facebook page, but not every bank is employing those social media options in the most effective way. Customers won’t pay attention to a Twitter feed just because “it’s there,” and they won’t befriend a Facebook page simply because an advertisement compels them to do so. Even a staid business like a bank needs some creativity in the realm of social media.

Here are some tips to make social media work for your financial institution.

1. Use Social Media for Research

Social media is not a one-way street, and banks can learn from what their customers say to and about the financial institution on Facebook pages. 1st Mariner Bank, a small bank in Baltimore, Maryland, decided that it would use social media to query its customers about bank features and needs.

Instead of conducting sessions with focus groups, 1st Mariner asked the entire internet what it could do better. Through questions posted on social media pages, the bank was able to determine that it needed to provide a better banking experience to teenagers and parents.

2. Expand Customer Service Options

Social media is all about the engagement and responsiveness of the bank with its customers, and the immediacy of social media like Twitter offers customers the satisfaction of quick answers to problems.

Although the information shared on social media by a bank must be controlled in such a way to ensure security and privacy, the medium remains a reliable option for communicating with customers about their problems. Bank of America recently set up an active Twitter account that took some time to develop, but which eventually turned into a valuable outlet for customer service queries. Other merchant and review sites are also using Twitter as the go-to source for customer interaction.

3. Partner with a Popular Entity

United Kingdom-based Barclays Bank took note of the popularity of football (that’s soccer to Americans) in the country and decided to buy into title sponsorship of the country’s Premier League. Out of this sponsorship came an incredibly popular Twitter feed where the bank started to offer timely updates on what was happening with the professional football league.The feed swiftly gained over a hundred thousand followers, and Barclays was able to fortify brand recognition through Twitter. Each time a fan would see a Twitter update on the football feed from Barclays, he would see the Barclays Bank logo.

There is no doubt that social media propels advertising today, but it may also help a bank to improve customer service and create personalized relationships with its depositors and customers. Today’s customers are on the internet, and it is essential for banks to be inventive and resourceful with their social media campaigns.

A bank shouldn’t see social media as a simple advertising machine but rather a conduit for the exchange of ideas with customers.

Tanner M is a web specialist and entrepreneur and runs Multiple Streams, a site about helping people with their personal finances. Tanner also writes for TopTenReviews.com.

What We’re Reading: Mobile Banking Scorecard, Social Media, Big Data

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.

  • Fifth Third CEO: Social Media Keeping Banks Honest

American Banker

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created to ensure that banks treat customers fairly, but Facebook and Twitter are even more effective at keeping banks honest, argues Fifth Third Bancorp (FITB) Chief Executive Kevin Kabat. In a speech that largely focused on the regulatory response to the crisis, Kabat said social media is now taking a central role in helping banks assess their standing among customers and shareholders. Banks don’t really need new guidelines and mandates from regulators, he said, since every action — from the introduction of a new product to new disclosures on checking accounts — can be censured in real time.

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  • Study: Banking’s branch of tomorrow

ATM Marketplace

In new research, “Arriving Now — Banking’s Branch of Tomorrow,” Mercator Advisory Group reviews continuing evolution of branches today in banks and other financial institutions, according to a news release about the study. “With recent advancements occurring in the self-service banking channels — including ATM, online, and mobile banking — coupled with an expansion of teller duties in both full- and assisted-service roles, branches continue to evolve at many financial institutions, with branch reconfiguration at the center of many FIs’ branch strateg[ies],” said Ed O’Brien, director of the banking channels advisory service at Mercator, and author of the report.

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  • Chase Tops Keynote Mobile Banking Scorecard

Bank Systems & Technology

Banks are moving towards offering more robust, transactional mobile services and capabilities, the scorecard finds. Chase achieved the top overall score in the 2013 Mobile Banking Scorecard from Keynote Competitive Research, the industry analysis group of San Mateo, Calif.-based Keynote Systems. The scorecard compared the mobile banking offerings of the top 15 U.S. banks and ranked the banks across four mobile categories: text, mobile Web, iPhone app and Android app. The banks were ranked in four categories, functionality, ease of use, quality & availability and privacy & security.

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  • Sibos #2 – Your Weather Forecast for 2014

Celent Banking Blog

The headline is that Sibos is back. Swift would argue that it never went away, but after the rather damp squid that was Osaka, the difference was clearly different, with the halls full and buzzing. Swift clam 7,648 delegates, which breaks out to roughly 44% Europe, 29% Middle East & Africa, 16% Asia Pacific and limping in last, 11% Americas.  Considering the size of the delegations from the large US banks, the latter number shows that Swift needs to continue to make sure the conference returns to the US regularly.

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  • How CUs Can Use Big Data To Drive Big Revenue

Credit Union Journal

The ever-growing file of aggregated, disparate information known as “big data” is leaving many credit unions with more questions than answers. A new report, however, shines some light on how CUs can use predicative analysis to increase revenues. “Big data is something we have recently begun to focus on but we are new to it,” said Robert Keats, vice president of information technology for Grow Financial FCU. “I believe there probably have been some missed opportunities in the past, but if we had all the data in front of us, and understood it, better decisions could be made.”

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  • Behind eBay’s $800M buy: Braintree will replace PayPal’s developer platform


eBay’s $800 million purchase of Braintree is primarily motivated by one big factor: PayPal’s need for a nimble and flexible commerce platforms that met the demands of the new generation of startups and mobile app developers. That’s according to John Lunn, PayPal’s global director of developer networks, who spoke with GigaOM Thursday morning.

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  • Chase leads US mobile banking segment


According to new mobile banking data from Keynote, Chase achieved its fourth consecutive win for Overall Score. Following Chase was Wells Fargo and Bank of America, with US Bank moving into the top tier, tying with Bank of America for third place.

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What We’re Reading: Cloud, Tablet Growth, Social Media

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.


    • Companies turning to multiple cloud models

ABA Banking Journal

As cloud computing becomes a default part of the IT landscape, more companies are relying on cloud computing for business processes such as storage (59%), business continuity and disaster recovery (48%), and security (44%), CompTIA’s Fourth Annual Trends in Cloud Computing study reveals.

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    • More than Half of Consumers Pay Bills on Mobile Devices: Survey

American Banker

More than half of consumers worldwide use their mobile devices to pay a bill, according to SAP’s survey of more than 12,000 adults who own a basic mobile device or smartphone. SAP, a financial technology vendor, published the survey Wednesday. “Through our research, and the work we have done with leading global banks, we see the consumer appetite for mobile banking – and the range of services that can be provided via mobile devices – increasing as customers are keen to embrace more complex banking activity,” said Eric Stine, general manager of financial services for SAP America, in a press release.

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    • Banks Sit On Sideline As Tablet Growth Continues

Bank Marketing Strategy

According to PEW Research Center, tablet adoption has almost doubled over the past year and for the first time, a third (34%) of American adults currently own a tablet computing device, including almost half (49%) of those in their late thirties and early forties and a majority (56%) of those in higher income households. With this platform becoming increasingly important to customers, banks and credit unions can no longer sit on the sidelines and watch as the digital landscape develops around them. Unfortunately, with limited resources, new research indicates that development of native tablet apps has occurred at a snails pace due to limited resources and a focus on developing new smartphone applications.

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    • Getting Past the Hype with Customer Analytics

Celent Banking Blog

There are at least three reasons why now is a good time for financial institutions with no customer analytics experience to take the idea seriously. And for those with customer analytics initiatives, why now is a good time to revisit how and how broadly things are being done. Together, these factors will advance customer analytics from a project undertaken by a minority of banks to a core competency among the majority of financial institutions over the next five years. Yet a small minority of banks have experience with customer analytics.

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    • The New 80/20 Rule? Pew Study Finds Online, Mobile Adoption Differs

Credit Union Journal

Findings from the Pew Internet & American Life Project show that while 91% of Americans own mobile phones, only 35% of cell phone owners do any banking business through that channel, a 17-percentage-point increase from two years ago. Of those consumers that do mobile banking, the study found an equal percentage of men and women (35%) using the channel, with those between the ages of 18 to 40 with at least some college education being the most likely to use it. Persons with higher household incomes are also more likely to use mobile, as a 13-point gap separates users with incomes above or below $50,000 annually.

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    • Social Media Can Deliver, With Some Creativity

Credit Union Times

Recognizing that getting younger consumers to care about savings, life insurance or even the credit union difference, would be challenge, IC Federal Credit Union turned to robot monsters, clay, zombies, a medieval tale and the blues. “The majority of videos out there are unwatchable, because no one wants to hear a credit union explaining their services. Moreover, younger consumers either can’t relate or are not even listening, when you start talking about dry topics like budgeting,” said Jim Pond, co-owner of James and Matthew and Co., the Boston-based digital services agency that created the popular videos. “We wanted to create entertaining, engaging, humorous videos based on what the viewers want to watch, that respect their time. It has to be worth watching,” Pond explained.

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    • U.S. Bank and Western Union Make Mobile Remittance Transfers a Reality

Javelin Strategy & Research Blog

U.S. Bank and Western Union announced some great news for mobile money transfers: U.S. Bank is now expanding the Western Union Money Transfer service to its online banking and mobile banking platforms. U.S. Bank customers have been able to initiate Western Union transfers at the branch since 2009, but this is the first time in the United States that Western Union’s remittance transfer service will be directly integrated within a mobile banking app. This new development is huge for both U.S. Bank and Western Union, as it allows U.S. Bank to directly compete with the up-and-coming digital remittance players (such as Xoom or Remitly) and provides an excellent revenue opportunity for both players.

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Infographic: Top National Banks on Social Media

The financial services sector may have been slower to adopt social media, but in the past few years, many of the top banks have not only embraced social, but amassed a large following. ViralHeat compiled data on large national banks using social media to see who has the strongest social presence. The breakdown is highlighted in the infographic below.

Top National Banks on Social Media

by Viralheat.
Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.


Getting Started with Twitter: Tips & Tricks

AllTwitter.com, a blog run by Mediabistro, is running a ten-part series on getting started with Twitter. If your financial institution has recently started a Twitter handle, or you are planning on starting one in the near future, these lessons and tips are helpful resources to “get Twitter.” Below are links to the first seven parts of the series; we will update the list as they add the remaining three.

  1. The Newcomers Guide To Twitter Part 1: Getting Started
  2. The Newcomers Guide to Twitter Part 2: Choosing The Right Username
  3. The Newcomers Guide to Twitter Part 3: Setting Up Your Profile
  4. The Newcomers Guide to Twitter Part 4: Finding Cool People, Brands and Accounts to Follow
  5. The Newcomers Guide to Twitter Part 5: How To Get More Followers
  6. The Newcomers Guide to Twitter Part 6: How To Write Great Tweets
  7. The Newcomers Guide to Twitter Part 7: Twitter Etiquette

And, here is an infographic with tips on how to get more followers on Twitter.

What We’re Reading: Collaboration, Tablets and Google Glass

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.


  • Collaboration Goes Social For Banks

Bank Systems & Technology

The rise and popularity of social media have had a dramatic effect on the ways people interact and share information on a personal level, and many banks have embraced social media as a way to improve customer engagement. But when it comes to bringing social media tools into the enterprise for business uses such as collaboration and project management, the revolution has not been quite as pronounced. That’s especially true in banking, where the use of social tools for internal business collaboration is still in the nascent stages, according to some experts. However, when banks are able to adopt the best practices for taking advantage of social channels internally, it can lead to a much more efficient and collegial work environment.
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  • Credit Unions Lead in Online Satisfaction

Bank Systems & Technology

Credit unions top the financial services industry when it comes to online customer satisfaction, according to a survey conducted by customer experience analytics firm ForeSee. The firm this week released its “Financial Services Benchmark,” which reports on online and mobile customer satisfaction trends for various industry segments. The report used data from more than 335,000 surveys from the first quarter of 2013 in which customers shared their experiences with online websites, mobile websites and mobile applications.

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  • iPad, Tablet Point-of-Sale Systems Gain Popularity


Over the next three to five years, many of the existing larger and pricier point-of-sale systems will be replaced with iPads, says Dave Kaminsky, an emerging technology analyst with Mercator Advisory Group, a payments-industry advisory firm headquartered in Maynard, Mass. It’s impossible to predict when a total conversion of the market would occur, he says. In the same way that some customers continue to write checks in an age of online banking, some merchants will continue to use the older point-of-sale systems out of habit, he says.

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  • Wearable banking: Google Glass


Using touch controls and voice recognition, Google Glass will allow users to capture photos and videos, view emails, use apps and surf the web on the move. But what does this mean for digital banking? This rises to a quarter for 18 to 24 year olds, which means once the technology is available to buy, banks will need to ensure they have a clear idea of how to extend their digital banking experience to wearable technology. This has interesting implications for how consumers control their finances and suggests that if Google Glass does indeed form an ‘important branch of the tree’, it is likely that consumers will choose to manage their money using the new technology.

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  • Why The iPhone Still Matters To Mobile Payments


Months before the iPhone 5 was released, the industry was a buzz of rumours on the details of Apple’s new device. New connectors, a new OS, thinner, taller. But one feature that received wide-spread attention from the banking industry was the rumoured inclusion of an NFC Chip. Something that anticipated bringing mainstream scale to a technology that could replace the need for us to carry wallets full of plastic credit & debit cards. Who could forget Google’s George Costanza advert for the Google Wallet, the first NFC Mobile Wallet. Rumors about the new iPhone having NFC, but at this point, they seem like a total long shot.

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  • The Key to Building Bank Ads That Work

The Financial Brand

Consumers do not buy products and services, they buy the benefits they receive from them. Take Dove Soap, for example; For years, Dove advertised that its soap had ¼ cleansing cream, leaving skin soft. Dove didn’t become a top seller because it had ¼ cleansing cream, but because it made consumers’ skin softer. Tip: You may need to describe your product and its details, but this isn’t the same thing as selling the benefits the product and its features deliver. For every product feature, you can almost always find a corresponding consumer benefit.

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  • KeyBank Moves To Data Driven Decision Making


When Cleveland-based KeyBank reaches a decision about its optimal branch footprint, the decision is based on analytics, said David Bonalle, executive vice president and director of client insights and marketing.

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  • Banks Might Hold The Key To Mobile Wallet Adoption

Investor’s Business Daily

Banks and other companies worldwide are vying to get consumers to use their mobile wallets, which enable point-of-purchase payments via smartphones. A recent report by network gear leader Cisco Systems found that banks might have the upper hand in the battle to rule a payments technology that could revolutionize how consumers buy things worldwide. The Cisco “Customer Experience Report,” which focused on retail banking, found that mobile wallet providers must offer more personalized and secure banking services before consumers will flock to their offerings.

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  • Global mobile payment transactions to surpass $235B


Global mobile payment transactions will generate $235.4 billion this year, growing 44 percent over last year’s US$163.1 billion. Asia-Pacific will account for US$74 billion, with growth driven by both developed and developing countries such as Singapore, India, and South Korea.  According to a Gartner report released Tuesday, global mobile transactions volume and value will clock an average growth of 35 percent between 2012 and 2017, climbing to over 450 million users and a market worth US$721 billion by 2017.

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Social Media Statistics: By-the-Numbers, May 2013

Below are some interesting statistics on social media usage. Feel free to share your favorite social media statistics in the comments section or Tweet @bankingdotcom.

  • 500,000,000: The number of photos uploaded and shared per day in 2013. (Source: KPCB)
  • 442,000,000: The number of views per month generated by the top 500 brands on YouTube. (Source: Outrigger Media)
  • 50,000,000: The number of unique visitors per month to the Foursquare website. (Source: Foursquare)
  • 6,000,000,000: Hours of YouTube video watched per month. (Source: YouTube)
  • 5: The number of Vine videos shared every second on Twitter. (Source: Unruly)
  • 24: The percentage of online teens that use Twitter, up from 16 percent in 2011. (Source: Pew Internet)
  • 150: The number of times the typical smart phone user checks their phone per day. (Source: KPCB)
  • 645,000,000: Views of local business Facebook Pages during an average week. (Source: Facebook)

Does your financial institution use Pinterest? Here are three creative ways brands are utilizing the site from Social Media Examiner.

Social Media Chatter









Image courtesy of nattavut / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What We’re Reading: Mobile Remote Deposit, Small Business and Walmart

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.

  • Connect and Follow: Leveraging Social Media for Business Results

American Banker

Companies need to change the way they look at their employees, says Nathan Egan, the CEO of PeopleLinx, which provides solutions that help companies leverage social media for business and marketing. Businesses have known for several years now that their customers are on social media, and that they can glean important information from listening to their customers on those networks. Financial services firms are generally well ahead of the game in monitoring their customer interactions on social media because of compliance issues, Egan, a former sales executive at LinkedIn when the social media site was still in its infancy, observes. One reason both companies and employees should be interested in using social media to develop business and marketing leads is the ability to track returns, Egan says.

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  • Google Presents Biggest Threat to Banking

American Banker

The Google Wallet product announcements at I/O 2013 present a perfect illustration of how Using Optical Character Recognition, Glass could determine the type of television the customer is eyeing.  This presents an absolute horror scenario for banks.  After you link your Google Wallet with your checking account, there is no need to interact with the bank.  This means the complete dilution of the customer relationship.  Customers then stop logging into Internet and mobile banking and banks miss out on the opportunity to cross and upsell products

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  • KeyBank to Certify Small-Business Experts

American Banker

The Internet is teeming with offers of credit-card processing services, loans and other products geared toward small businesses. But KeyBank plans to deliver something that business owners may not find online: trustworthy advice. This year, the bank is rolling out a program to certify 300 of its frontline employees as small-business experts. “We’re just trying to increase their acumen so they can think more broadly about what their clients’ issues are,” says Maria Coyne, executive vice president of the branch network for KeyBank, the main subsidiary of Cleveland’s KeyCorp.

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  • Brighter Than Big Data

Credit Union Times

Despite competition from nonbank providers like Google Wallet and a growing consumer shift away from traditional checking accounts, credit unions are best positioned to provide what the consumer of the near future will demand. So said ProfitStars Director of Strategic Insight Lee Wetherington during his May 21 general session at the CUNA CFO Council Conference, held at the Wild Horse Pass Spa. The financial services consumers of the future will demand transaction services that better enable them to make better financial decisions, including nudges against potentially harmful behavior, Wetherington said. Only their financial institutions have the data to enable such a service, he said.

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  • Tiny Tri-Cities Beats Big Boys With Mobile RDC

Credit Union Times

With just $25 million in assets, 4,000 members and one credit union branch, Tri-Cities Credit Union in Kennewick, Wash., rolled out a mobile check deposit application on May 22. A big deal to this small credit union is that it became mobilized before the other two credit unions in the county – $1.2 billion HAPO Community Credit Union in Richland and the $1.2 billion Gesa Credit Union – have theirs up and running. “We’re not in competition, “said Doug Wadsworth, president of Tri-Cities Credit Union. “But it sure is fun to be first.” The Tri-Cities area comprises Kennewick, Pasco and Richland, a metro area of about 250,000 people in southeast Washington.

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  • Why Walmart poses a major threat to the mobile payments hierarchy


It’s been roughly nine months since more than a dozen leading U.S. retailers including Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Sears and 7-Eleven first banded together to create Merchant Customer Exchange, a nationwide mobile commerce network designed to support smartphone-enabled purchases, consumer offers and mobile marketing promotions. The MCX initiative remains a work in progress, but here’s what we know: Its ranks now encompass more than 30 merchant brands representing $1 trillion-plus in annual sales, 80,000 stores, 4 million employees and 700 million payment and other customer accounts. All of those merchants will accept the forthcoming MCX wallet, a cloud-based solution supporting barcode-enabled transactions.

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  • Bank’s Lobbyists Help in Drafting Financial Bills

New York Times

Bank lobbyists are not leaving it to lawmakers to draft legislation that softens financial regulations. One bill that sailed through the House Financial Services Committee this month — over the objections of the Treasury Department — was essentially Citigroup’s, according to e-mails reviewed by The New York Times. The bill would exempt broad swathes of trades from new regulation. In a sign of Wall Street’s resurgent influence in Washington, Citigroup’s recommendations were reflected in more than 70 lines of the House committee’s 85-line bill.

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  • Consumers Prefer ACH Bill Pay, But Billers Still Missing Opportunities

Payments Journal

A recent study of billers across the United States reveals while a majority of consumers prefer ACH for bill pay when offered the option, there remains a rich opportunity for billers to migrate paper checks to electronic payments. The study found that the great majority of billers – more than three-quarters of those that offer electronic payment options – offer Direct Payment via ACH, and now, almost 50 percent of consumer bills are paid through this method. Forty-two percent of consumer bills are still paid through the mail, and 11 percent are paid with credit/debit cards. The findings illustrate one of the hidden problems in a highly developed electronic payment market such as the United States: consumer education can still move the needle, something many stakeholders often forget.

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  • Mobile Wallets 2.0: What’s in your mobile DNA?


Convenience has made mobile wallet technology an increasingly popular payment tool for those looking to save a trip to their back pocket and simply wave their phone instead. However, transacting only scratches the surface of how mobile wallet technology will ultimately revolutionize customer experience at point of sale. Like a physical wallet, mobile wallets have also become identity carriers. The potential lies in the ability to leverage data, which will allow mobile wallets to become virtual identity carriers, and, ultimately a customer’s mobile DNA, which will deliver greater insights to brands.

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FI Spotlight: Pan American Bank

Pan American Bank

Banks and credit unions are making headway building their own social media presence and with the influence of the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) are beginning to determine how their activities fit into company policies. Financial institutions looking to go social have a bevy of resources to learn from, whether listening to webinars from experts, talking with lawyers familiar with the guidelines or hearing from other members of their community.

For our latest FI Spotlight, we touched base with Jesse Torres, President and CEO of Pan American Bank in Los Angeles, California. Jesse recently posted an instructional video for bankers and directors on social media. To learn more, Jesse provided further insight to Banking.com on his experience with social media at Pan American.

Jesse Torres - Pan American BankQ: You seem to have a great perspective and experience with social media? How did Pan American Bank build its social channels, and what was your general philosophy?

Pan American Bank began using social media in late 2009 in response to the backlash against banks. As a conservative community bank, Pan American Bank never participated in subprime lending and other questionable lending practices. However, due to the broad and sensational messaging delivered by the media, Pan American Bank and other community-focused banks were painted with the same brush as those that violated public trust through questionable lending practices. Social media provided Pan American Bank with the platform to tell its story – one person at a time.

Through social media, the bank has been able to demonstrate its commitment to the community and other stakeholders. Social media is a tremendous tool for “personalizing” the institution and creating a venue for honest and transparent two-way communication.

While Pan American Bank maintains a presence on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube, it has chosen to focus the majority of its social media resources on Facebook. Facebook was chosen due to its broad adoption (over 1 billion worldwide users) and its mix of tools (e.g., status updates, video, photos, the ability to create and host events). These factors allow Pan American Bank to maintain an ongoing relationship with stakeholders using information in a variety of formats.

Q: What’s your best piece of advice for a financial institution just beginning to establish their social media presence?

Institutions need to realize that social media is now a regulatory hot button. During the past five years social media has transformed from an emerging technology to a mature technology. Many institutions now believe that it is time to incorporate social media into their strategy – perhaps due to having greater familiarity with the technology or because of competitive pressure. As such, the social media space is becoming increasingly occupied by financial institutions.

Regulators have noticed the growing trend but, until recently, have been unable to focus on social.  As the industry recovers and as fewer banks risk failure, regulators are returning to business as usual. Any institution pursuing social media must become adequately familiar with the regulatory expectations – governance, policies and procedures, third party due diligence, training, content monitoring, audit, and board reporting. At a minimum, institutions should address social media through a risk assessment, policy and training.

Q: What’s one unexpected difficulty that banks can prepare for when developing their social media policies?

The main challenge in developing a social media policy is the governance structure. Contrary to what many may believe, social media risk is not a technology risk. It is a human resource risk. The dangers involved with social media do not involve malfunctions of technology or similar events. The dangers arise from employees being poorly trained and unintentionally creating risk for the institution. As such, the governing individual or body should have sufficient influence to require adequate employee training. This fact is many times lost as social media is often assigned to the IT department rather than to a department with broader human resource training capabilities. Ideally, due to social media’s broad impact of an organization (compliance, legal, sales, marketing, information technology, etc.), an appropriate governing structure should include a cross-departmental team.

Q: What do you see as the next trend for financial institutions on social media?

While adoption has increased over the past five years within the banking industry, the recent January 2013 FFIEC draft social media issuance and pending final regulations will slow adoption as the regulatory process works itself out. Once adoption resumes, financial institutions will increase their use of social media as a customer service channel. More progressive institutions, with greater risk appetites, will consider its use in completing financial transactions (think Chirpify). Others may utilize the platform for underwriting, using the social networks as an indicator of credit risk (good credit risks beget, or befriend, good credit risks). However, most institutions will limit its use to community building and brand differentiation due to their conservative nature and the rise of hacking incidents of both bank and social media platforms coupled with regulatory skepticism over the security afforded to bank customers through social media channels.

Want to hear more from Pan American Bank? Follow them on Facebook.

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