Monday, December 16, 2013

Top 10 Retail Banking Trends and Predictions for 2014


The Top 10 Retail Banking Trends and Predictions for 2014 are compiled from more than 60 global financial services leaders including bankers, credit union executives, industry analysts, advisors, publishers and editors, bloggers and fintech followers.

This year's list runs the gamut from a continuation of past trends to the introduction of new trends in delivery, payments, competition, operations, customer experience and marketing. Prioritization of these trends may differ by institution, but none should be ignored.

For the third year in a row, I have reached out to global leaders in the financial services industry to ask for their thoughts around upcoming banking and credit union trends and predictions. As in the past, the response was overwhelming, with more than 60 responses. The emphasis of this compilation is mostly North America, but most of the trends are global thanks to responders from the U.K. and the Asia Pacific region.

While everyone had their 'favorite' trend, and some provided a personal top 10 list, I consolidated their thoughts and came up with trends that were considered the most important. Two significant trends that are not listed, but impact virtually every trend discussed, are the omnipresence of previous and upcoming regulations as well as the continued investment in new technologies to make this year's trends a reality. Two trends that may prove important, but got less than expected mentions were the underbanked and alternative currencies like BitCoin.

This year's Top 10 Retail Banking Trends and Predictions are:

All of the contributors did concur, however, that a guaranteed prediction for 2014 is that disruption will continue at an unprecedented pace and that the industry will look different this time next year.

        • Drive-to-Digital: Impacting delivery, marketing and service usage
        • Payment Disruption: New players, technologies and innovations
        • Increased Competition: Neobanks and non-traditional player pressures
        • Branch Optimization: Maybe not branchless, but certainly less branches
        • Focus on Customer 3.0: Digitally astute, social and yearning for insight
        • Breaking Down Silos: Product and data silos begin to crumble
        • Simplifying Engagement: Removal of friction and steps to engage
        • Improving Contextual Experiences: Leveraging data for improved service
        • Differentiating Brands: Avoiding commoditization in a digital world
        • Global Innovation Perspective: Expanding view of tomorrow's innovations
The following infographic is a graphical representation of top trend and prediction terms provided by the contributors to this year's report. The size of each word represents the prominence of terms from the industry leader submissions.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Loop: A Mobile Wallet Game Changer

Loop is an exciting new mobile wallet solution that has achieved near ubiquitous acceptance with more than 90% of POS terminals without any infrastructure change by the merchant, the acquirer, or the issuers. 

While other mobile wallet players are talking about NFC, EMV, barcodes, BLE and the cloud, Boston-based start-up Loop has invented an incredible mobile solution that intelligently communicates with the existing retail mag stripe reader interface today – without another plastic card and without the merchant needing to change anything!

Compared to the recently announced Coin solution that captured the hearts and more than 7M YouTube sets of eyes of consumers and the fintech world a few weeks ago (see Bank Marketing Strategy post on Coin), Loop has been amazingly under the payments 'next shiny object' radar during its funding process. There was a wave of fintech buzz in October, including several articles and a presentation at Money2020, but not much since.

In an exclusive interview with Will Graylin, CEO of LoopPay, Inc, he said, "Loop has been focused on product development and our soft launch which will take place in about 3 weeks. We did a small PR effort at the time of our Kickstarter campaign, but we did not want to blow a lot of hot air before we had our product ready for market and had happy users." He continued, "Many have overhyped their solution and have failed. We are more interested in the long run and are building solid a foundation for our future with solid partners."

Given that Loop is delivering a solution that automatically transforms virtually every existing POS terminal mag stripe reader into a contactless payment receiver, I don't expect Loop to be in the shadows much longer.

That's right, unlike other solutions that require merchant terminal conversion or a programmable card with limited security, memory, card or battery capacity, Loop integrates the highest level of Payment Card Industry (PCI) security and can store hundreds of payment, gift, loyalty, reward or ID cards into a smartphone.

To 'trick' the mag stripe reader into thinking a physical card is being swiped, the consumer will need one of several add on devices available from Loop to emulate the card swipe including a Fob (being sent to 2,000 pre-order customers and Kickstarter backers this month), smartphone charging cases (available for iPhone 5 and 5s in early 2014 and other devices shortly thereafter) and eventually wearable devices.

Once cards are 'swiped' into the LoopWallet app using the Square like device, the user can select the card they want to use at payments. While the process initially will use additional consumer hardware, ultimately, Loop would prefer that their Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST) technology be directly embedded into the mobile device itself, eliminating the need to carry any additional hardware.

Watch the video below and see if you agree with me that this is an ingenious new mobile payments innovation.

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

9 Strategies for Building a Great Mobile Banking App

There is no doubt that strategies around mobile banking are in the top five priorities for any financial institution. Even with this focus, many bankers have a difficult time making the paradigm shift that is required to build a great mobile banking application.

As a result, I asked Scott Bales, who is currently working on a new book entitled 'Mobile Ready' to share his thoughts on the keys to mobile app development success. 

Guest Post by Scott BalesRegional Director for strategic advisory firm User Strategy

The following thoughts come from the development of my new book, Mobile Ready and are provided to assist banks in driving greater success through the mobile platform. These come with a catch, however. To truly understand mobile, you have to accept that mobile is not the answer. Instead, there are real 'human' factors that create the foundation for mobile as a viable delivery tool for banks. 

What I am saying is that you should never embark on your mobile development for the sake of being on mobile. Doing so will only invite doubt, uncertainty and a constant struggle with the ROI of mobile. Instead, you need to view the interactions, engagement and loyalty that mobile can provide.

My list below is not intended to cover the technology aspects of mobile banking, like operating systems, security, transaction or payment capabilities. Instead, I have focused on preparing your mindset, so you can build a better mobile banking application from the perspective of your customer. 

After that, the technology components become much easier.

1. Get Out of the Building

Let's face it, banking interactions don't happen at your desk. Trying to craft an experience inside the office, you'll struggle to develop the necessary empathy for the customer, their context and their goals. The best mobile banking applications can't be built in an innovation lab. They need to be built with the input of real people who can validate your design assumptions and engagement potential in the real world.

You need to understand where and why people choose to engage your mobile application. Is it because they want to pay bills on their daily commute, do they need to check how much they have to spend before they go shopping.

Actively engage people in the context in which they need to engage your service, learn through open ended questions the behavioral, psychological and contextual needs of those moments. Only by connecting to the real world can you create truly delightful experiences.

2. Enlist Partners

So you think you know everything about building on mobile, or you're apprehensive to engage service providers. This is typical for most banks. The challenge for most banks is mobile banking applications built by bankers will look like banking on a phone . . . which can be boring, uninspiring and lacking creative thinking of new perspectives.

Engage open application designers, partners and thought leaders early in your journey to help leverage the successes from other industries to build a truly delightful mobile banking experience. Remind your teams that what you build will determine the consumer opinion of your brand over the coming year.

Digitally engaged consumers take experiences as material grounds for evaluating brands, and are less likely to be effected by your advertising messages. So make the effort to include a strong and diverse set of creative inputs into your creation process.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Bank Customer Service Still Stinks

Banks and credit unions realize that there is a strong correlation between customer satisfaction, portfolio growth and financial results, yet recent studies of customer satisfaction indicate there is still a major gap in performance between the financial services industry and other verticals. 

Where are financial institutions falling short in their quest to become customer-centric and how can banks and credit unions begin to exceed customer service expectations? 

According to findings from a new Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting Group study, 65 percent of consumers say their primary financial institution is not as good as (47%), or much worse than (18%) leading customer service companies. This is despite increased investment in customer experience initiatives by the financial services industry. (A SlideShare presentation entitled, Are Two Calls Too Many in the Eyes of the Customer? is available for download)

The key findings of the report include:
      • Customer culture drives great customer service
      • Customer experience is defined by first problem resolution
      • Most complaints involve core banking products (checking, debit card, credit card, mortgage)
      • Banks are not listening to their customers
      • There is a correlation between complaint handling, satisfaction, loyalty and new business potential
These findings correlate with the just released ForeSee Experience Index that found that the financial services industry had the lowest aggregate score of any industry, including the lowest scores in retention, upsell and referral potential. In addition, financial services as a category had the largest gap between the highest and lowest scoring brands (American Express is 82 and Santander is 65), suggesting that there is much work to be done in offering the experience that customers expect from companies in this category.

Quick Problem Resolution Provides Challenge and Opportunity

One of the impediments to customer satisfaction is that more than a third of consumers surveyed by Carlisle & Gallagher did not believe their problem* was completely resolved. Of the complaints resolved, a whopping 72 percent of the problems required two or more interactions, with close to 30 percent requiring 3 or more interactions. This is certainly not a path to success.
Source: Carlisle & Gallagher (2013)

From an opportunity perspective, more than half of the customers surveyed said they felt like a valued customer when their issue was resolved with a single interaction and that their confidence in the financial institution increased by 38 percent. Conversely, confidence dropped to 17 percent and trust dropped to 10 percent when a problem required two or more interactions to be resolved.

While some complaints may be complex and require further research, this insight shows the power of resolving a problem quickly and completely. In fact, several studies done in the past have illustrated that a customer who has had a problem resolved satisfactorily can be more loyal than one that has never had a problem.

Source: Carlisle & Gallagher (2013)
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Monday, November 25, 2013

My Digital Banking Nirvana

Last week, I was fortunate enough to be one of the keynote speakers at the inaugural Next Bank Sydney. In preparation for my presentation entitled, 'My Digital Banking Nirvana', I looked globally for mobile banking applications that were the best at being simple, encouraging engagement and being contextual.

With help from the team at Mapa Research, I came up with almost 30 components for my perfect mobile banking relationship from every region of the world. Some were completely unique, while others were mobile applications that multiple financial institutions provide.

Link to my Next Bank Sydney presentation, My Digital Banking Nirvana on SlideShare here

What Makes a Great Mobile Banking Application

In many ways, there is no difference between what makes a great mobile banking application and what makes a great non-banking mobile application. The key components are:
        • Simplicity: Does the app replace a non-mobile process I do often? Does it make my daily life easier? Is it easy to use? In the non-banking world, I love the KeyRing application because it stores multiple loyalty cards in one place on my mobile phone, eliminating the need to carry plastic cards. The app also links to digital offers I can redeem without cutting coupons.
        • Engagement: Does the application stimulate positive interaction, and build a better application from this engagement? For me, my Marriott mobile application does a great job. Beyond providing the standard ability to make reservations and check my loyalty balances, it also allows me to check in early, receive notifications when my room is ready and informs me about special offers through multiple channels.
        • Contextual: One of the benefits of a mobile application vs. an online tool is the ability to provide value based on where I am located. My favorite app from a contextual perspective is OpenTable. Using locational functionality, OpenTable provides suggestions of restaurants based on my current location and previous dining experiences. Reward points are provided for using the app and starting next year, the app will also allow me to pay for my meal using my phone and the OpenTable application.
So, which mobile banking applications meet one or more of the above criteria and could become part of my digital banking nirvana? As could be expected, this list is fluid, since new innovations are being introduced every week, replacing previous applications that were once best-in-class.

Mobile Banking 'Basics'

As an active mobile banking user, there is some functionality that must be the foundation for my best-in-class mobile banking relationship. First of all, as covered in a recent blog post entitled, Banking Innovation for the Fat-Fingered, leveraging mobile imaging technology and my phone's photo capability simplifies mobile banking by removing keystrokes and improving accuracy. Therefore, I expect my future mobile bank to provide the following:

Friday, November 15, 2013

Big Day for Payments: Plastic vs. Digital

Only in the ever changing world of payments.

It is more than a bit ironic that on a day that Isis Mobile Wallet announced that they were going live with their carrier-backed digital payments initiative, a unique card-based solution named Coin announced their alternative solution to the overstuffed wallet.

The question is . . . which solution has the greatest chance for near-term and long-term success?

Maybe both will garner the support of the key involved parties. Maybe neither. Maybe another company will take the Coin concept mainstream sooner than the planned introduction. The one thing I am pretty sure of is that it is further evidence that financial institutions need to place multiple bets on alternative solutions to avoid being left behind.

Despite all of the talk in the industry around mobile payments, acceptance of new digital innovations and platforms has been anything but a smooth ride. In addition to the seemingly insurmountable challenge around consumer's concern with security/privacy, getting merchants, consumers, financial institutions and even carriers on the same page has been close to impossible.

At the end of the day, the biggest challenge may be the perception by many that there is no reason to fix something that isn't broken. The current card-based process for making payments, while not perfect, is relatively easy and definitely firmly entrenched in the consumer's daily life.

What is Coin?

Coin is a .84 mm thin plastic card-like device that can store any of your current cards (actually, 8 of them) and behave like the cards it replaces. Instead of carrying an assortment of debit, credit, gift, membership and loyalty cards from various institutions, you simply use the dongle provided (like the one used by merchants accepting Square) to capture your card information on your phone, take a picture of the cards and use the Coin app to load your Coin card.

While only 8 cards can be loaded into the Coin card, an unlimited number of cards can be stored in the mobile app and switched in and out of the card as desired. "You don't need eight cards every day, so your phone is kind of like your drawer, and your Coin is kind of like your wallet," explains Parashar, founder and CEO of Coin. 

When you are ready to pay or use a loaded card, simply press a button on your Coin card to select the card you want to use (electronics imbedded within the Coin card itself), present your card to the merchant like you have done in the past, and the rest of the process is the same as it is today (see compelling video below).

Coin is Secure

For those concerned about the security of the card should you leave the card behind (only happens to me about 4x a year), the Coin card uses Bluetooth low energy technology to inform you on your phone that you left your card behind. Better yet, the card completely disables itself if your phone and card are away from each other for more than 10 minutes. 

For those concerned about someone scanning another person's plastic into the app, Coin says that the app only accepts a card that includes the user's personal information. Further, the Coin app is protected with 128-bit or 256-bit encryption and the company is pursuing PCI compliance. The app is also password protected.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Engagement and Revenue Potential of Mobile Alerts

To drive greater mobile banking adoption and engagement, banks and credit unions need to take a more active role in helping customers proactively manage their finances through real-time notification of events that impact their accounts.

Beyond simple balance and transaction updates, alerts can provide the foundation for greater interaction with your customers, increasing engagement, lowering servicing costs and even providing potential revenue opportunities.

As discussed in my post, Is Your Bank Ready for Customer 3.0, today's mobile-savvy customer expects their bank to provide instantaneous feedback as to their financial position and to move from being a financial facilitator to being part of their everyday, always-on digital ecosystem. A new white paper from Fiserv entitled, Enterprise Alerts: The Superhighway to Delighting Customers With Timely, Relevant and Actionable Information discusses how financial institutions can develop a comprehensive alert strategy that can take advantage of this opportunity while also meeting regulatory requirements related to customer notifications.

Despite the benefits of alerts to financial institutions, adoption of alerts (similar to online banking and bill pay) have flatlined according to Javelin Strategy and Research. In a recent study entitled, Road Map to Alerts 3.0: A New Channel Emerges for Interactive Finance, Javelin predicts that the number of consumers who receive email or text alerts is only 34% currently, and will only grow by 4% annually through 2016 unless the industry deepens the pool of users by upgrading alert technology, providing more real-time insight and making alerts more useful and relevant.

Source: Javelin Strategy & Research (2012)
As could be expected, the banks with the most successful alert strategies (based on households receiving alerts) are the larger banks, while community bank and credit union customers/members are the least likely to have received an alert according to Javelin research. While Bank of America customers are the most likely to have received an email alert, Chase customers were the most likely to receive a text alert in the past 30 days.

Bank of America Mobile and Online Banking Alert Selection Pages

Alert Channel Preference

At a time when the vast majority of interaction with online and mobile banking involves simplistic balance inquiries or funds transfer, expanding the number and variety of alerts can lead to a significantly higher level of engagement that can deepen the relationship with the customer.

According to the Javelin research, while email continues to be the primary delivery channel for alerts, text alerts are the fastest growing type of alert even though this form is usually used to supplement the email variety. As mobile banking downloadable app usage continues to grow (currently at about 50% of mobile banking users), opt-out push notification alerts continue to grow.

In early 2013, Varolii Corporation did research on mobile banking preferences entitled, Can You Bank On Your Banking App, which found that consumers differ significantly in the way they want to be contacted regarding their account. Some of these preferences may be correlated with the way in which they are currently being notified by their financial institution.

Source: Can You Bank on Your Banking App?, Varolii Corporation (Jan. 2013) 

With such a wide variety of preferences, banks and credit unions must find a way to economically tie their alert system to a unified system of engagement that does not confuse the customer with too many notifications but still allow the customer a degree of customization. The key is to ensure that time-critical information is delivered to the customer in a manner that both informs and allows for immediate action.

"An enterprise alert strategy should include a wide variety of alerts distributed via multiple end points and devices," says Jim Tobin, senior vice president and general manager, Mobile Solutions from Fiserv. "This will enable financial institutions to serve customers at different stages in their lives while keeping pace with regulatory demands."

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Traditional Banks At Risk Due to Digital Disruption

According to two recent reports from Accenture, 35 percent of banks' market share in North America could be in play by 2020 as traditional branch banking gives way to new digital players. The research also indicates that 15 to 25 percent of today's roughly 7,000 North American financial institutions could be gone as a result of consolidation before 2020.

To combat this shift, Accenture recommends that traditional providers take a radically new approach to distribution, combining a simpler yet more comprehensive branch offering with integrated digital services.

"Digital technology and rapid changes in customer preferences are threatening full-service banks that do business primarily through branches," said Wayne Busch, managing director of Accenture's North America banking practice and author of the report, A Critical Balancing Act: Retail Banking in the Digital Era. "Given the scale of these disruptions, traditional full-service banks, as a group, could lose significant market share by 2020 -- to banks that reorient around digital technologies and to new entrants from the retail and technology sectors."

Digital Disruption

New digital technologies, emerging digital competitors and the extremely rapid changes in customer preferences are threatening to dramatically impact those full-service banks that limit themselves to products and services that get distributed primarily through physical branch channels. The outside disruptors tend to be more agile and more innovative, while traditional banks are weighed down by unprofitable branches, legacy back offices and inefficient silos. 

Business as usual is no longer an option in an industry that could see up to 25 percent of U.S. banks disappear completely.

In conducting online interviews with more than 2,000 US retail banking customers of the 15 leading retail banks in the U.S., Accenture found that 71 percent said they were “satisfied” with their bank and 68 percent said they would be “extremely likely” to recommend their primary bank to a friend, family member or colleague. In addition, only 9 percent of those surveyed switched institutions over the past year.

This loyalty is fragile, however, since more than a quarter (26 percent) of bank customers who remain with their primary provider do so simply because they consider switching to be a hassle, while about half said they haven't seen a competing offer that was attractive enough to make them move. The survey also found that two-thirds of bank customers would consider a branch closure as inconvenient and nearly half would switch banks as a result.

Source: 2013 Accenture Retail Banking Survey

This not only exposes the tenuous relationship banks have with their customers. It also confirms that the right offering and approach can induce them to switch. "The core challenge for banks: how to build a seamless digital customer experience -- and optimize its power with a better and more cost-effective complimentary offering in the branches that customers find so attractive," concludes Accenture.

The Disruption Has Already Begun

According to Accenture, many banks have already begun losing their customers to digital disruptors. The survey showed that customers acquired 34 percent of traditional banking services such as CDs, money market accounts, personal and auto loans and even new checking and savings accounts from institutions other than their primary bank.

Source: 2013 Accenture Retail Banking Survey

While traditional players have the innate advantage of extensive branch networks that the customer still says they value (nearly 60 percent of new product sales are still closed in branches), these same players should be concerned about the the transition to an online sales environment.

The growth rates in online sales since 2012 are strong in several categories, with online auto loans growing from 11 percent to 21 percent in the past year, online sales of mortgages rising from 15 percent last year to 25 percent in 2013 and sales of personal loans through the online channels jumping from 8 percent to 24 percent in only one year.

Source: 2013 Accenture Retail Banking Survey

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Banking Innovation: Not Made in the U.S.A.

For the third year in a row, I attended the BAI-Finacle Global Banking Innovation Awards ceremony that takes place as part of the BAI Retail Delivery Conference. This year's program, which recognizes innovation excellence in the banking industry, drew more than 200 nominations from institutions based in over 30 countries.

The two overriding impressions I have had each year when the finalists and winners were announced were that 1) despite industry challenges, there are amazing innovations happening in the banking industry that impact the daily customer experience and 2) with the exception of Citibank in 2011 (for their 'Smart Banking Branch), no other U.S. bank has ever won the award.

Traditionally, the financial services industry in the U.S. has been slow to innovate compared to many other industries due to compliance and regulatory obligations, dependence on large internal and external infrastructures and the need to focus on security and privacy. In addition, the lack of a formal structure or process for innovation or dedicated funding also inhibits initiatives.

Despite these limitations, the industry globally continues their effort to innovate, with varying degrees of success. Some institutions are recognized regularly for their efforts, with some regions (Asia Pacific) being hotbeds for new ideas and innovation. In addition, social media banking innovations are being found in places like India, Brazil and Nigeria.

The Efma and Infosys Finacle sponsored study, Innovation in Retail Banking: Simplify Technology to Innovate provides a good perspective on global innovation trends, ways banks can overcome some of the barriers to innovation and why some banks have been so successful in their efforts. This year is the fifth year of the study and it appears that banks worldwide are increasing their investment in innovation and beginning to structure organizations in a way that is more conducive to innovative practices.

While defining innovation continues to be a challenge, examples of new ideas globally illustrate the need for banks to measure not only against domestic competition but also against global standards. The key findings of the study were:
        • More banks have an innovation strategy: 60% had a formal strategy in 2013 vs. 37% in 2009.
        • Investment in innovation is increasing: In 2009, more banks were decreasing innovation investment than increasing. Today, 77% of banks say they are increasing investment vs. 5% decreasing (personally, I am concerned about the definition of innovation investment in this study).

Banking Innovation For The Fat-Fingered

Financial services innovation takes many forms, but Mitek Systems believes simplifying a customer's banking life is best. A leader in the category of using the smartphone camera to simplify normally complex processes, Mitek's mobile deposit solution set the stage five years ago for innovations to follow.

Since 2008, Mitek has had a laser focus and a broad passion for using the phone's photo capability to eliminate the keystrokes that are the bane of consumers in a hurry, who are spelling challenged or have a hard time using oversized fingers on an undersized keypad.

As I have written about frequently over the past several months, I believe some of the best innovations in banking are not the result of added features and benefits to existing financial products and services, but the simplification of everyday processes that can improve the lives of a banking customer. This is what makes me such a fan of Mitek. 

Mitek has created solutions that allow customers to use the camera on their smartphone and tablets to deposit checks and reload prepaid cards, pay bills, get insurance quotes, open new accounts and transfer balances . . . all with a snap of a picture. No data entry is required. With mobile imaging technology, the image is captured with error correction and adjustments made, then data is extracted and put into pre-set fields on the mobile banking app instantly.

What is interesting when I watch Mitek and their bank and credit union partners is that every time I think there is no more that my phone's camera can do, Mitek finds a new solution or enhances a previous innovation.

In an industry where the growth of mobile banking is mirroring the growth in smartphone ownership, the benefits of using one of the most easily understood functions of a smartphone and leveraging it to facilitate a better mobile banking experience are enormous. These capabilities can attract new customer, build engagement, increase cross-selling and enhance loyalty.

While what may follow may sound like a commercial for Mitek, it probably is. With so little true innovation being done by traditional banking organizations in the U.S., it is refreshing to see a company that makes innovation part of their overarching company mantra. The good news is that Mitek continues to build new solutions that banks can implement quickly and easily (i.e. U.S. Bank), making them innovators as well.

To illustrate my point about the focus of Mitek on innovation, I have included a video where Jim DeBello, president and CEO of Mitek discusses innovation at his company.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Is Your Bank Ready For Customer 3.0

The banking industry is in the midst of a significant shift in customer behavior fueled by new channels, new competitors and new shopping behaviors. Today's customer is hyper-connected, highly informed and demanding a highly personalized approach with regards to communication, product development and customer service.

These customers cannot be defined by a specific age or income category or geographic parameter, but by their ability (and desire) to adopt and apply new technologies to meet their banking needs.

Say "Hello" to Customer 3.0.

Customer 3.0 begins their bank and credit union product shopping experience at their desk, in their car or on their couch, relying on friends and family reviews and published reviews across social media channels. Instead of walking into a local branch office and sitting down to open an account during banking hours, these customers purchase their banking services much like they purchase music, books or other products . . . online, 24/7.

As Brett King highlighted in his book, Bank 3.0, the new customer doesn't 'go to' their bank or credit union or rely on a physical distribution network. Banks and credit unions need to find and effectively engage customers who are mobile-first and have vast choices and a 'want it now' attitude. This paradigm shift in the balance of power between banks and the customer positions Customer 3.0 as a power player who is firmly in charge of their personal buying process.

To find and engage with Customer 3.0, financial institutions need to transform their back office and delivery networks and begin to think like the new customer. They need to understand that the competition is not just other traditional banks or even the digital-first 'neobanks'. Instead, we are competing across all of the touchpoints used by Customer 3.0, where experiences are shaped by the latest in retail, gaming, search and mobile technologies.

In a just released research report, Say Hello to Customer 3.0, Accenture discusses the transformation of the banking customer over time and the need to move from being a financial facilitator to becoming a part of the ecosystem where Customer 3.0 interacts. The report also discusses the need to move from mass marketing techniques to a highly personalized approach that takes advantage of both structured and unstructured data to improve the overarching customer experience.

Defining Customer 3.0

Unlike the customer of the past, Customer 3.0 is not defined by traditional demographics like age, income, geographics or gender. Instead, they are defined by the way they leverage new technologies to meet their individual needs. Digitally astute, mobile-first and socially connected, Accenture found Customer 3.0 to have some generally common attributes. I provide my take on what these attibutes mean to bank product managers and marketers:
        • Highly Informed: Customer 3.0 leverages the information available on the internet more than any previous generation. They use comparison sites and associated apps to gather insight about the banks and products they want to purchase before a bank even knows they are shopping.

          The change in bank shopping behavior was discussed in my previous post, Digital Shopping Has Transformed the Bank Purchase Funnel, and more generally in the Accenture report, Energizing Global Growth: Understanding the Changing Consumer. Customer 3.0 starts (and sometimes finishes) their bank shopping experience in the digital world.

          My Take: Traditional media is no longer enough for acquiring or cross-selling the new customer. The importance of digital marketing tools, such as retargeting, must become part of ever bank and credit union marketers tool kit.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Mobile Payments Growth: Just The Tip of The Iceberg?

A new report from Business Insider Intelligence on the state of the mobile payments industry shows that, while the volume of mobile payment transactions still represent just a small percentage of overall payments on the surface, the level of growth is significant and quickly shaping the entire payments industry.

Both consumer and merchant uptake is exploding as smartphone users are quickly adopting mobile wallets, payment apps, etc. to facilitate offline and online purchases and as businesses are turning smartphones and tablets into full-featured POS terminals. The next critical step is to persuade the masses to become users of the payment technology available.

When Amazon and eBay launched their online shopping sites in 1995 and 1996 respectively, the notion that over half the U.S. population would make purchases online would have been scoffed at. Yet in 2013, the number of online shoppers in the U.S. will reach 189.6 million, according to eMarketer. In this case, the majority of the consumers were resistant to change until they made the switch and realized the benefits. The same applies to mobile payments.

The key is to examine the current payments industry growth trends, motivations of current users, the reasons for the gap between awareness and usage, and how financial institutions, retailers, network operators and equipment manufacturers can work together to convert reluctant consumers into loyal users. As mentioned by many of my fintech colleagues recently, it goes beyond a mentality of "If you build it, they will come". There is a need to solve for the concern around mobile security as well as develop incentives for usage.

Defining Mobile Payments

For the purpose of the study being reviewed, 'mobile payments' were defined as when a mobile, internet-connected device (smartphone, tablet, smart watch, Google Glass, etc.) is used to facilitate a transaction that might otherwise have taken place using a physical credit card, debit card, check or cash at a physical (not online) store. 'Mobile transactions' (for the purpose of this study) are a larger category that included mobile payments as well as mobile commerce and e-commerce channeled by an app or mobile website (e.g., Amazon's mobile app).

Mobile payments and transaction innovation is currently be led by start-ups and tech companies, who are prompting legacy payments players and card companies to reevaluate their current strategies and increase their own pace of innovation. 'Coopetition' has become the norm as companies team up with each other as opposed to building a mobile strategy from scratch. These partnerships (and individual initiatives) are pushing innovation forward quickly, making the industry fragmented yet ripe for consolidation.

Mobile Payments: Still Relatively Small on the Surface

Like an iceberg, there is much more to the mobile payments than what the can be seen on the surface today, with a U.S. mobile payments forecast of $30 billion in 2013. According to the research compiled by BI Intelligence, this forecast represents an average annual growth rate of 118 percent since 2008, but still will only account for 2 percent of the $3.3 trillion debit and credit card volume in the U.S. this year. It was also found that other global markets (such as Africa and the Asia Pacific regions) are seeing a much larger percentage of mobile transactions.

In both the U.S. and other global regions, the growth in mobile transaction volume has been driven primarily by the growth in smartphone adoption (especially in areas of underdeveloped banking systems). Not only has the smartphone impacted the consumer side of the payments equation, but also the merchant side, where attachable card readers transform smartphones and tablets into cash registers, making card purchases easier.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Bank Product Proliferation: Too Much of a Good Thing

When someone walks into your bank or credit union branch or visits online to open a new account, how many options are available to choose from? More importantly, how many different legacy products exist that are no longer offered, but still need customized maintenance, specialized communication and integration with your new digital offerings?

Has our desire to provide the best products for everyone resulted in product clutter, complexity, confusion, and additional costs? Now, there's new evidence that customers will reward us for reducing choice and for helping them move to the right product.

Beyond just reducing the current number of products we promote, it is also important to close the books on outdated product portfolios, consolidating legacy products into a more refined, less complex set of offerings. By doing so, your institution will reduce costs, generate new revenue, simplify your customers' lives and provide the foundation for future growth.

In a recent research paper from A.T. Kearney entitled, Reducing Complexity in Retail Banking: Simple Wins Every Time, it was found that the origin of banking's product proliferation challenge is the industry’s product-centric view and the lack of a traditional product lifecycle. By remaining siloed and focusing on the impact of individual products, there had been little internal incentive to reduce complexity for the customer’s benefit.

And unlike other industries, where customers are proactively shifted to the next generation of products when a new product is introduced and an old product is retired (i.e. Apple), A.T. Kearney found that most financial institutions maintain retired product portfolios forever, avoiding the risks and challenges of product migration. As a result, they found that some of their clients had more than 500 products, with two-thirds representing outdated offerings.

"One of our clients had more than 15 different savings products, with just three accounting for 90 percent of new product sales," states Torsten Eistert, partner at A.T. Kearney and co-author of the report. "Some products were being used by no more than 200 customers."

Beyond ongoing new product introduction, the product proliferation challenge is amplified by the impact of mergers, short duration specialty products, multiple branding, etc. This doesn't even take into account the impact of different behind-the-scene pricing algorithms or customer level customization (waivers, bonus rates, etc.) that is commonplace in banking.

As an industry, we can no longer equate variety of offerings with customer centricity. While customers say they want a variety of products and services, recent research by Filene Research Institute entitled, The Psychology of Choice Overload: Implications for Retail Financial Services found that the assumption that consumers always benefit from more options does not always hold, and in some cases, the consumers (and the bank) benefits from fewer, rather than more, options.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

An Interview With Chris Skinner on Building a Digital Bank

It is becoming more and more difficult for traditional banks to compete in an increasingly digital marketplace. With most bank systems stuck in the last century, the conversion of legacy technologies to new platforms with total reliability, security and resilience is a massive challenge.

How can today's banks evolve to a new model of servicing and processing, where the mobile internet allows consumers to bank wherever and whenever they want using an increasing array of devices? How can banks leverage their existing foundation to compete with new and nimble mobile-first competitors?

I had a chance to speak to Chris Skinner recently about his perspective on the evolution of banking, the emergence of new competition, winning the mindshare of an increasingly connected consumer and on the release of his newest book, Digital Bank: Strategies to Succeed as a Digital Bank (available on Amazon for $9.99 for the Kindle version or $17.99 in paperback).

Best known as an independent commentator on banking and the financial markets through the Financial Services Club blog and Chair of the networking forum The Financial Services Club, Chis is the author of several previous books covering everything from emerging regulations to innovation and new currencies. He is also Chief Executive of Balatro Ltd, a research company and a regular commentator on BBC News, Sky News and Bloomberg on banking issues.

In reading an advance copy of Digital Bank, I found that Chris provides a great overview of the digital revolution in banking from channels to systems to emerging currencies. He also provides in-depth analysis of the how incumbent banks such as Barclays to new start-ups such as Metro Bank in the UK, Alior Bank in Poland and FIDOR Bank in Germany are building for a digital future.

As several noted fintech followers mention in online reviews of this book, Digital Bank is the most recent must-have for anyone wanting to help their organization stay relevent in banking or for businesses wanting to better understand the impact of digitalization on the marketplace. 

What inspired you to write this newest book?

I've been blogging daily since the start of 2007 at the With the blog, I would write a series of four or five posts on a particular subject, like why branches were the wrong focus, how data is becoming the new banking battleground, why existing banks have challenges, what organizations are innovating in unique ways, etc. These posts were never edited or placed in any sequence, but provided a great foundation for potential chapters in a book. So, I finally got around to taking all of that experience and all those thoughts and personally editing them into a readable, digestible, logical book. 

What do you hope readers take away from your writing?

The overarching theme of Digital Bank is that banks are being fundamentally restructured and challenged by the Digital Age. From physical services through physical branches, we have rapidly become a business that provides digital products through digital relationships. That leap is not happening fast enough, however, as most banks are tied to their traditional operational, technological and physical structures. This book provides a roadmap to take that old bank into the new world, how it can be achieved, proof points as to why it is needed and lessons of what to do and not do. Anyone dealing with digital bank distribution through the mobile, social internet will find it useful.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

P2P Payment Simplicity Square'd

Some of the best mobile banking apps are those that make everyday tasks simpler. Two of my favorites are GoBank's Balance Bar, that lets you see your account balance without login, and Moven's real-time mobile purchase receipts and analysis.

Tuesday, Square, Inc. joined my growing list of ├╝ber-simple mobile banking applications with their introduction of Square Cash, a new app that makes sending money person to person as simple as sending an email. In today's mobile world, simplicity is the 'new black'.

P2P applications are definitely not new. There are literally hundreds of bank and non-bank applications that allow you to send money digitally, including Google, PayPal and Venmo. Consumers also have the choice of simply writing a check as they have done for years. But, I believe Square has introduced the most streamlined app that may have the broadest mass market appeal. 

Imagine emailing money to another person, without a fee, directly from a debit card without a login or password. All that is needed is a debit card number, Zip Code and expiration date from the sender and recipient (only need to be entered the first time you use the service). After that, sending money is only an email address away.

Compare that process to most banks, that require mobile banking sign-in (don't get me started), a test transaction and potentially more steps, even though there is normally no fee for the service. PayPal's P2P app transfers money from a PayPal account to another PayPal account, with transferring funds to a bank account being an additional step (in addition to a one-time signing up for PayPal). Google's P2P service uses email like Square, but requires signing up for Google Wallet and transferring funds to a bank account. Venmo is a growing favorite of younger people who prefer to send money via a Facebook-like newsfeed. This service also requires an application sign-up.

Unlike Square Cash, most of the other P2P applications have fees attached as shown below. Square Cash, however, only supports debit cards at this time, with low weekly limits ($250) unless you provide a mobile phone number and Facebook account or verify your full name, the last four digits of your social security number and date of birth -- then the limit is raised to $2,500. If the Facebook option is selected, no information or messages are ever passed to the social channel. Square is simply using Facebook as part of authentication.

Source: My Bank Tracker, September 2013

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Rise of PayPal as a Major Payments Player

No place in financial services is transformation and innovation more apparent than in the world of payments, where the convergence of mobile and new data-driven business models have the potential to completely disrupt both the consumer and merchant experience.

The recently concluded Money2020 illustrated that there is no shortage of payments players vying for attention,  but no firm seems to be as aggressive as the new PayPal, which continues to roll out new innovations impacting the payments ecosystem.

While some of the 'innovation' at PayPal may not seem new or disruptive (such as the use of QR codes), the ability to quickly build scale by using the existing payments infrastructure may be the key to PayPal's success. The company hopes to transform its reputation as a means of exchanging cash over the Internet into the default payment system for many everyday transactions.

At stake for PayPal is control of a mobile-payment market that is expected to grow more than three-fold from this year’s $235 billion over the next four years, according to researcher Gartner. PayPal faces a host of competitors, including Google Wallet, Square, Lemon and Stripe (and potentially Amazon and Apple).

Brian Roemmele, researcher and business advisor says of a recent PayPal announcement, "The true innovation that PayPal has achieved is really quite invisible and perhaps even boring to technologists. No iOS devices or android devices deployed at the merchant locations. No new add-ons needed, just the a boring laser bar code scanner that every single major retail store already has."

It is clear that PayPal is moving fast to become a ubiquitous option at retail merchants, introducing products for both the consumer and the retailer. In fact, there have been so many changes recently, it may be difficult to keep up.

To that end, I am providing a brief overview of what has occurred over only the past couple months and what the future may hold.

New PayPal Mobile App

In early September, Paypal introduced an updated version of the PayPal mobile app for both iOS and Android, turning it into much more of a mobile wallet. Maintaining all of the old features, the new app added tools to facilitate shopping and paying for goods online at the physical POS.

The app features five clearly labeled sections on the home page, with the major sources of innovation residing within the new Shop tab and Bill Me Later integration. Within the Shop screen, you can find nearby merchants that accept PayPal. Once you check in at a merchant (using your PIN), you can download any special offers from the store and can complete the transaction simply by saying "I'm paying with PayPal". Since the merchant will have your PayPal photo on their POS device or phone, funds can be transferred without needing to pull out your phone a second time.

Leveraging the app's location-based capabilities, there is the ability to push coupons based on a consumers specific location and even allow for ordering and paying for a meal within the app.

As for payments, PayPal is providing the option to pay directly from a bank account, from a PayPal balance or to use a credit card on file within the app. It's also expanded the 'Bill Me Later' function, providing credit for large purchases within the app. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Money2020 Attendees Share Insights and Takeaways at Bank of America Twitter Chat

On Wednesday, October 9 from 7:30 - 8:30 am, Bank of America hosted a twitter chat at Money2020

The live chat was designed to look back at the first few days of the conference, discussing important themes and takeaways, memorable moments, and issues facing the payments industry – essentially an opportunity to connect the dots.

The chat was aimed at conference attendees and people who weren’t able to attend, and was designed to focus on thought leadership around payments. Unlike most chats, this event had a live audience who participated on site along with others who participated in absentia. On the live panel moderated by Peter Osborne were Farhan Siddiqi from Bank of America, Cherian Abraham from Experian, David Birch from Consult Hyperion, consultant Tom NoyesElizabeth Dias from Perficient, Jim Issokson from MasterCard and myself (remotely).

The following transcript captures comments made during the Bank of America Money2020 Twitter chat. This transcript was edited to keep the answers to questions together. Retweets were also deleted that did not include additional content to shorten the transcript and show the flow of conversation. 

Metrics for the twitter chat were as follows: 
          • Total Participants: 187 
          • Total Number of Tweets: 711 
          • Total Reach: 574,623 
          • Total Impressions: 6,787,715 
          • Total Number of Retweets: 318 

Bank of America @BofA_News: Welcome to the Future of Payments Innovation chat, live from #Money2020 in Las Vegas. #BofA_News is pleased to host this opportunity to connect the dots from the #Money2020 conference. My name is @peter_osborne and I’m a communications executive for #BofA. I’m joined by @FarhanSiddiqi, #BofA Strategic Planning Executive for Digital Banking.

Q1: What speakers or topics have most resonated so far at Money2020

Jim Marous @JimMarous: A1: Highlight - #Amazon #PayPal #Citi #AmEx #Discover #MasterCard rocked! Showed that payments innovation never sleeps. #Money2020

Elizabeth Dias @techmktggirl: A1: Standout #Money2020 Speakers: @thefriley of @Square & @PayPal. Topics: #TomorrowsBank, Consumerization of Data & Retail 3.0

Kevin Boglarsky @kmbx2ind: #money2020A1. The keynotes even if they went a bit long.

Thomas Noyes @noyesclt: A1: I thought amazon MCX and Amex did a fantastic job.

Bank Innovation @BankInnovation: I enjoyed the bullishness on Bitcoin and loved the Square and Amex keynotes. - Phil Ryan, Bank Innovation #money2020

Aaron McPherson @aaronmcpherson: A1: Tokens are BIG #money2020

Jim Marous @JimMarous: A1: Loved the tweets Monday "#Bitcoin will do to money, what the internet did for information" #Money2020

Bank of America @BofA_News: A1: Sarah Friar was impressive explaining Square’s lofty mission and its simple approach – Start-Run-Grow. ^fs #money2020

Dave Birch @dgwbirch: #money2020 A1: liked the Amex stuff about the unbanked, the Zapp direct to bank account retail proposition, new PayPal stuff