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.