iBeacon, working in conjunction with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), can integrate the physical and mobile channels, enabling a bank's mobile app to deliver highly tailored digital promotions, coupons or offers directly to the consumer's smartphone when the customer is in the general vicinity of an office, at any specific location within an office or at an ATM.
There are already more than 200 million iBeacons in the form of phones in our pockets. Google has included BLE into the Android 4.3 and other recent phones. Apple has been including BLE in their devices since the iPhone 4, meaning that every iPhone from the past two years is an iBeacon in itself. More importantly, standalone low cost iBeacons ($40 - $100 each) can be placed in physical branch locations, linking the bank branch with consumers' smartphones.
iBeacon technology is designed to deliver continuous content based on the precise location of a customer within a branch, allowing for highly relevant messaging or special offers on products to be sent to smartphone users at the exact time and place they are most useful. This immediacy is a big advantage over other technology like NFC or QR codes that are either less accurate or require additional steps by the customer.
In order for iBeacon to work in banking, customers must first install the mobile app of the bank they are visiting and opt-in for personalized promotional alerts. By providing the bank access, the bank could track activities performed both online and in the branch in the past to customize both mobile and in-person communication the moment they step inside the branch.
Consumer Acceptance of In-Store Alerts
While there is virtually no research on the acceptance of in-store alerts by financial institutions due to the current lack of use by banks, there is positive response from consumers when in-store alerts are used by retailers. According to a study of 1,000 smartphone users commissioned by Swirl, 67 percent of consumers reported having received shopping-related push notifications on their smartphones during the previous six months. Of those, 81percent said they read or opened these alerts most of the time, and 79 percent made a purchase as a result.
- 41 percent said they were not relevant to their interests or location
- 37 percent stated the offers did not provide enough value
- 16 percent fount the alerts to be annoying
- 6 percent did not opt-in to receive the notifications
It is clear that the lessons learned in the retail world apply also to the world of banking. While iBeacon technology can provide the power to deliver highly relevant digital content and offers personalized to the customers' location and banking relationship, the use of these alerts must be used judiciously.
In both retail and banking, privacy remains an ongoing concern for consumers, especially when disclosing their smartphone's location. The good news is that 77 percent of consumers said they would be willing to share their location information, as long as they received enough value in return. An opt-in process helps to establish this trust and consent.