Monday, October 31, 2011

Did Social Media Cause Big Bank About-Face?

A month after Bank of America and other large banks announced the levying of a monthly debit fee for debit card use, virtually all of the big banks that were either testing or had implemented a debit fee have backed off of their plans amid a groundswell of negative publicity.

On Friday, Chase and Wells Fargo announced that their respective debit fee pilots would end, and today SunTrust and Regions Bank announced a change of fee policies with refunds for fees already charged customers. Over the past week, many of the other top banks in the country like U.S. Bank, PNC Bank and TD Bank made strong statements that they would not be implementing debit fees. And  in an surprise move (after the initial posting of this blog), Bank of America rescinded their planned $5 debit fee based on 'consumer concern'.

Was this unprecedented big bank about-face caused by the significant public response initiated through blogs and social media?

Almost immediately upon the announcement of the $5 fee by Bank of America, a grassroots movement began on Facebook under the name of 'Bank Transfer Day'. President Obama and Richard Durbin blasted Bank of America for their decision and trade publications like the Credit Union Times immediately jumped on the Bank Transfer Day bandwagon, sharing local and regional initiatives while encouraging member organizations to extend November 5 Saturday hours.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Kaching Ushers In New Era of Mobile Banking

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia has broken new ground in the advancement of mobile payments by introducing a new iPhone application that allows users to pay friends or businesses using Near Field Communication (NFC), Facebook identification, an email address or a mobile phone number.

Kaching (pronounced like the cash register sound Ka-Ching)  will initially only be available for users of the iPhone 4 and 4S (with soon to follow Android support) using a specially designed case with built in NFC chip. With this case, the phone will allow the user to simply tap and pay at a PayPass terminal. 'This banking breakthrough marks a significant milestone in the evolution of how people pay and receive money from each other," stated Commonwealth Bank of Australia chief information officer Michael Harte.

According to a CBA spokesperson, the use of a specially designed NFC case is only an interim solution until iPhone, Android and other smartphones introduce new versions of phones with NFC integration built in. In what some believe could be the beginning of the end for plastic credit and debit cards and potentially even cash, this form of electronic payment would be conducted 24x7 in real time if both sides of the transaction are CBA customers and one to two days if the payment is made to a customer of another bank.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Relationship Trumps Fees for Small Business Bank Satisfaction

At a time when discussion around higher bank fees is at a fever pitch, small businesses value the human touch more than ever and are more satisfied with their banks than they were in 2010 according to the just released J. D. Power and Associates 2011 U.S. Small Business Banking Satisfaction Study.

The study, which ranks satisfaction in the areas of product offerings, facility, fees, account information, account manager, credit services, problem resolution and account activities saw all of these categories except fees improve on a year over year basis.

"Contrary to popular belief that most customers are unhappy with their bank, small business banking customers are more satisfied than last year with nearly all aspects of their banking experience," stated Michael Beird, Director of Banking Services at J. D. Power and Associates. In a webinar done yesterday by the firm, it was emphasized that having a person assigned to the relationship 'who understood their business' was a primary reason for improved satisfaction. It was also mentioned that banks should not 'boil the ocean' trying to be the best in each category, but should leverage relationship managers to improve performance in as many areas as possible. In fact, while missing a single KPI does not impact satisfaction scores significantly, missing 3 or more measures can dramatically impact satisfaction.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Is Bank Transfer Day a Small Bank Trojan Horse?

"A Good Day to be a Credit Union" is the headline of an article from Myriam Digiovanni in the October 19 Credit Union Times discussing the upcoming November 5 "Bank Transfer Day".


According to numerous news articles and coverage in both mainstream and social media, community banks and credit unions across the country are rallying around the anti-bank sentiment that has germinated from the announcement of a $5 debit card fee by Bank of America on September 29 and the increase in fees by other large banks. Not only have new account openings reportedly increased at several large credit unions, but social media traffic on the official Bank Transfer Day Facebook page and on other national credit union sites such as and have also seen spikes.

But is all this attention and potential new business a fortuitous gift or a potential threat to the well being and revenues of community banks and credit unions? It may just depend on who you ask and how the financial institutions on the receiving end of the disgruntled customer exodus handle their new customers and members.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Siri: My Bank 2.0 Concierge

The introduction of Siri as the star feature of the new iPhone 4S already appears to be setting the stage for a major change in the way people interact with their phones. By combining insight reminiscent of IBM super computer Watson and the voice of a willing assistant, marketers from all industries can leverage this technology to simplify the way we complete tasks with voice commands. There is no doubt that Siri's introduction represents the mainstreaming of voice recognition and natural language interface in much the same way that the introduction of the iPad mainstreamed tablet computing.

Siri represents something of a paradigm shift in how we will interact with mobile devices going forward, and there are few places where this movement from keystroke to voice command will impact business more than banking. While today's voice technology in banking does fairly well in being able to recognize basic transaction commands and process rudimentary transactions, leveraging the technology and humanized tone of Siri and similar programs will allow banks to process an endless array of interactions seamlessly from the convenience of the phone.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Collecting Behavioral Insights Increases Value of Relationship

Over the past 30 years, the new account opening process hasn't changed very much. Sure, there is a far greater use of technology at the new account desk and there is the opportunity to open accounts online, but the overriding objective for most banks is still operational efficiency as opposed to building the foundation for a lasting relationship.

This is why new customer onboarding has become so important to the banking industry. Without a rapid deployment of communication around the best way to use the product(s) opened and encouragement to expand the functionality of the product by taking advantage of engagement services such as online banking, direct deposit, bill-pay, mobile banking, etc., the customer experience will be lessened and the potential for attrition increases.

In fact, first year attrition continues to be a strategic challenge at most banks, with defection rates of 20%, 30% or even 40% not being uncommon. For those organizations with a multi-touch, multichannel onboarding program, however, the rate of attrition drops significantly. Unfortunately, even for those banks that have an onboarding program in place, the program may not be optimized due to a reliance on transactional and demographic insights as opposed to psychographic and behavioral insights.