Avoiding Commoditization in a Democratized Retail Banking Space

A branding crisis is looming in the Financial Services industry. Its subtle beginning came with Mint and PayPal but became much more apparent with Apple Pay in 2014. New entrants in Financial Services – both smaller fintechs and larger technology companies – have created a crowded value chain that spreads the end customer relationship across a variety of parties. And now, as financial data becomes liberated through regulations like PSD2, banks have begun to rethink operating models. Continue reading

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Using Facebook Bots to Route Insights Back to the Customer

As millennials begin to make up a larger proportion of the consumer base, there will be heightened expectations on businesses to inform their customers of relevant information in real-time using the mobile channel. One way that many providers have responded to this need is by leveraging the real-time push notification smartphone feature, which can instantly alert or transmit insights to consumers.

American Express has offered real-time push notifications to its cardholders for quite some time – but has recently taken this feature a step further with the release of purchase notifications via its Facebook Messenger chatbot, which uses AI to perform a variety of customer support functions. Cardholders opting into the service receive real-time payment details through the Messenger app, with the option of retrieving other basic transactional information and the ability to navigate to their card account.

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How Banks Can Remain Relevant in the Mobile Wallet Race

A once-fragmented mobile wallet ecosystem has evolved into a spectrum of definitive players that intend to be the consumer’s go-to payment method in physical stores, a space loosely defined as “proximity payments”. The evolution of this space has raised a conspicuous question: who owns the customer at retail checkout? Traditionally managed offline by the merchant, the now-digitized, in-store customer experience has undergone a paradigm shift that vaulted third-party tech companies into the driver’s seat.

Meanwhile, banks, as trusted custodians of a consumer’s payment accounts, see no reason why they can’t become consumers’ “everywhere” shopping and payment companion. Just a few names to invest in wallet infrastructure include: Capital One, Chase, USAA, Fifth Third, BBVA Compass and Citi. Though online and in-app payments have garnered most attention, proximity payments remain very much in play.

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An Effective Means for Controlling Short-Term Finances

It seems that personal financial management (PFM) has finally captured the attention of big banks, evidenced by Bank of America’s recently-announced plan for the delivery of PFM features for its native mobile banking app.

But amidst a series of developments in PFM capabilities over the past 12 months, consumers continue to mismanage weekly spending funds. An unclear picture of a consumer’s real checking account balance available for everyday spending can lead to overspending and inconsistent deposits to savings accounts.

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The Digital Receipt as a Gateway for Customer Acquisition

In 2014, I wrote about the potential for using digital receipts to expedite loyalty program enrollment. My viewpoint has been that the real-time push notification, leveraged in the context of everyday retail purchases, is a powerful tool for merchants, consumers and banks alike.

Over two years later, digital receipting is still a largely untapped space, with only tepid interest from merchants and banks. Perhaps banks overestimate what it really takes to deliver this simple, yet dynamic solution. Or, they fail to understand the enormous value that a mobile device’s push notification – termed ‘digital receipt’ – can provide for the three primary parties involved in a retail transaction. Continue reading

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Decoupled Debit a Rewards Jackpot for Consumers

It has been frequently rumored since its 2014 inception that Apple Pay would roll out a rewards program for users of its digital payment service – likely as a means of driving adoption and establishing Apple Pay as the default payment option. This week, Samsung beat Apple to the punch, announcing the launch of a rewards program for Samsung Pay.

Consumer interest and excitement over the rewards program will naturally grow as users begin to understand the relevant value of each point while accruing them during everyday purchases. But consumers with strong loyalty toward a certain store in particular should be extra excited for the proposition that digital payment rewards offer: triple rewards for decoupled debit accounts.

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Banks’ Growing Blindness to Consumer Activity

In the age of big data and digitization, data has become an increasingly valuable asset for banks, whose millennial customers often leave digital blueprints of their life, via online shopping, social media posts and ride share receipts. And, to no surprise, banks aren’t the only parties that understand the enormous value of this highly-contextual consumer information: merchants and marketers alike salivate over transaction data that suggests meaning and intent behind purchases and product usage.

Transaction data is so valuable that these non-financial parties have every reason to block others from accessing it – banks included. But how would a provider even go about disintermediating a bank from transaction data on their own customer? The answer lies in decoupling transaction activity from the purchasing tool.

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