Brett King

Posts Tagged ‘Internet Banking’

The Total Disruption of Bank Distribution – Part 4

In Branch Strategy, Engagement Banking, Future of Banking, Mobile Banking, Retail Banking on July 26, 2011 at 06:48

The Widening Gap between Behavior and Capability

In 1980 the average bank in the developed world would receive a visit from a customer once or twice a month, making an average of 20-25 times a year. As ATM machines started to emerge, by the end of the 80s average branch visits per customer were already starting to level off as the primary reason for visiting the branch – to get cash – was moving to the ATM.

In the early 90s to combat this decline in visitation trend banks started to create specialist branches around High-Net-Worth-Individuals, and seek to attract the most affluent and profitable customers back to the branch. This strategy was successful in attracting new and highly profitable customer segments stimulated by loyalty programs, specialist branches and better service, but could it last?

Internet Banking Disrupts Banking Behavior

The reality was that it wasn’t until around 2006 that Internet Banking fully reached its potential as a disruptor. By 2006 the trend for Internet Banking adoption had become very clear, it was ready to overtake the branch as the preferred method of day-to-day banking. Between 2005 and 2009 Internet Banking usage doubled, and across the United States, UK and throughout most of the EU, Internet banking emerged as the leading channel for day-to-day access to banking services.

The perception reinforced by some within the retail banking set was that this emerging behavior around Internet Banking was isolated to newer generations of customers only, and that older, more established customers were still keen to have the personal experience of a face-to-face interaction, or that customers seeking to start a relationship would always opt for the richer experience of the branch. However, the data did not bear this out. The earliest adopters of Internet Banking turned out to be the time-poor, affluent HNWI segments who valued their time over the upside of a branch visit. They could afford computers, the fastest Internet connections and had a strong incentive to use iBanking – they sought convenience and time saving.

In 1985 70% of transactions occurred through physical artifacts and networks, namely Branches, Cash and Cheques. By 2010, however, 75-90% of retail banking transactions were processed through Internet, Call Centres, Mobile Devices and ATM machines. Today branches make up at best around 5-13% of total transactional traffic, and that is on a good day. As a result, branch staff are poorly motivated and in many markets staff turnover is toping 40% annually. The average customer is now visiting a branch in the United States less than 5 times a year, in some EU markets the average is less than half this number. This is resulting in massive closures of bank branches. That number doesn’t get better if you look at it another way – it’s just bad news for branch focused brands.

RBS is closing 55 branches this year, this is the behavioral effect

In 1990 11 million cheques a day were written in the UK, by 2003 that figure had ballooned to 36 million cheques a day. By 2010, however, Internet Banking had caused that figure to crash dramatically to less than 1 million cheques per day. Why? Behavior has irreversibly changed. What used to be second nature to many is now a dwindling holdover for an ever shrinking demographic; those who hark back to the days of good old fashion banking.

What happens in the next 5 years?

Today we’re seeing mobile banking take off as the fastest ever growing channel for retail banking services. Today some banks are reporting a 300-500% faster adoption of Mobile Internet Banking than what they saw with Internet Banking. Rather than take traffic away from Internet Banking, the trend is for mobile banking users to actually increase their use of Internet Banking.

So what’s more likely in the next 5 years? Is it more likely that customers will suddenly, spontaneously buck all these trends and spontaneously start using branches more, or will Internet and Mobile simply increase their march of dominance for day-to-day banking? The answer is obvious (to most).

Why, then, do branch networks still command the massive bias in funding that they have today within retail banking P&L, and why do leaders in the digital space struggle for board-level attention and legitimacy?

It’s not about Internet vs Branch, it’s about behavior

We’re not going back to vinyl records, the telegraph, or steam powered transport – we’re just as likely to go back to a banking system dominated by branches and cheques. This is an undeniable, statistical truth. The majority of us now (over 50% in developed economies) are simply too busy to drive down the branch, find a parking spot, stand in line for 15-20 minutes, to hand over the counter a cheque that will take 3 days to clear for a nominal processing fee. But it’s not just transactional behavior that takes the hit.

Today if I’m looking to start a new relationship with a bank, the first place I go is to my search engine, and possibly my social networks. Admittedly there are still some who will seek to visit a branch to kick off a new relationship, but after that initial visit my day-to-day banking becomes pure utility and convenience. In 2007 when I worked on a global survey for Standard Chartered, 75% of customers in 42 countries said that Internet Banking capability was their primary criteria for deciding on a new banking provider. Regardless of whether I might come into the branch to get started, the fact is you aren’t going to be seeing a lot of me. That’s not the way I behave anymore.

By continuing to favor branch from a channel investment perspective or organizationally from a strategy perspective, and by insisting on multi-year business cases before making real investments in mobile, social media and web, we are opening up a gap. This gap is a behavioral gap between how our customers behave everyday, how they want to bank, and how prepared “the bank” is to facilitate their needs. This gap can easily be exploited.

The more banks insist on me conforming to their behavior and processes, the more I will feel the bank is irrelevant, out-of-date and a poor match with my needs. I’ll start to find workarounds like PayPal for transfers, or Prepaid Debit cards for day-to-day billing and payments. I’ll start to move my cash to other banks that have a mobile banking and iPad App.

There are many who will argue that this is not enough to kill the branch – I say you won’t be able to afford not to kill them off yourself very soon.

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Business Internet Banking – What does PFM for business look like?

In Business Banking, Customer Experience, Internet Banking, Offer Management on September 15, 2010 at 11:05

Have a look at your bank’s local website in respect to business internet banking and you’ll see lots of demos, and promotion of basic features like ‘instant balances’, ‘convenient transactions’ and ‘anytime access’. In 2001 that might have been world-class features but today that’s tired, boring and hardly a differentiator. So why haven’t we seen much improvement in business banking since 2001? Basically because most banks are out of touch with the day-to-day banking needs of their corporate customers.

The Three worlds of Business Internet Banking

There are effectively three worlds in Business Internet banking, there is the sole trader, the Small to Medium size Operator (SME) and the Large Corporate. In respect to platform, the challenges of the sole trader and SME are somewhat similar operationally. However, for a sole trader, they tend to run their bank account more like a personal facility, but with business transactions coming in and going out. They usually have a very small staff footprint, if any, but their primary banking activities are paying for goods and services, and chasing payments from customers/clients.

The SME has, by definition, fewer than 100 employees. They have the same concerns as a small trader, but incorporated in operational concerns are payroll and Human Resources functions, and the job of managing cash flow – increasingly tough in a challenging economy. The large Corporate has a much more complex environment from a payments and banking perspective. Managing complex suppliers and procurement relationships, group life, health and pension concerns, along with credit facilities, receivables management, etc. So what role can Business Internet Banking (BIB) 2.0 play in the corporate landscape today?

The Sole Trader

Collecting money is one of the biggest challenges for a small trader, as cash flow needs are often acute. Especially in the early phase of the business, a sole trader will often be operating hand-to-mouth, month-to-month. So the ability to collect payments is critical. However, as dealing with cheques and cash becomes increasingly erroneous, many sole traders turn to Merchant services either through POS capability or e-Commerce integration to solve the payments dilemma. But if you are a sole trader, good luck on getting a Merchant account.

Many banks require a minimum of US$100,000 a year in transaction throughput before you ‘qualify’ for a merchant account. Then the onboarding process for a merchant account is extremely complex. You need to sign contracts with the bank, with each of the card issuers (Mastercard, Visa, Diners, American Express, Union Pay, etc), and you typically need to set up a completely new ‘merchant’ account. This process is not simple, and in many cases small businesses just don’t qualify. Additionally, ask a sole trader when they were ever proactively offered a merchant account…

This is one of the reasons we see a host of workarounds for accepting bank payments today. Jack Dorsey, one of the founders of Twitter has started up Square, a cheap and fast alternative to traditional merchant onboarding. Square has had some recent competition in Europe (UK and Germany to start with) from iCharge. There are also a bunch of online virtual merchant and e-commerce payment options from the likes of Shopify, Yahoo! Merchant Solutions, then you have Amazon and Google Checkout, many, many more. However, the future looks bright for sole traders. With Visa announcing trials of NFC mobile payments this year, with Orange and Barclaycard doing the same in the UK, and Apple hiring some big names in NFC for their next iPhone – we’ll all soon have the ability to accept contactless payments with ease as our phones become POS terminals of a sort.

With payments sorted, the remaining issue is cash-flow and financial management. As I already posted back in June, there are huge possibilities in the area of Accounting, Cash Flow Modeling and Credit services in the cloud. But don’t think cloud as in outsourced from a banking perspective, think that the bank is the ‘cloud’ and the Business Internet Banking platform is the services layer that provides the key functionality to customers. Already the sole trader today probably has most of his transactions going through one account – so his bank statement is effectively his general ledger. Be smart banks … formalize this. Recognize that the sole trader’s internet banking system – is also his day-to-day accounting function. Enable that, and you have something really helpful for the small business owner.

Small to Medium Enterprise

Small-to-medium size businesses face their biggest challenges oddly enough when they are dealing with rapid growth. Small businesses don’t have a huge pool of resources to draw upon, so when business steps up a notch the hiring lag can often be a problem, as can be hiring ahead of the receivables. Take a medium size company of 20-30 employees, and throw a $3-4m contract at a company of that size – life changing yeah? Maybe, but if your total revenue last year was $4m and you are going to double that, you need to hire another 15-20 staff today. Problem is, the cash isn’t going to come in until the end of Q1 next year? So how can you afford to ramp up? This is the type of scenario where banks are supposed to help, but are too risk adverse these days to assist.

SME's often face their toughest challenges in times of rapid growth

By getting closer to SMEs and understanding their business better, there are real opportunities here. But don’t stress about the investment in direct banking resources, just offer SMEs a platform where they can upload their accounting data and get free cash flow analysis, along with suggestions about how to deal with cash issues. The system then can act to provide better triggers for SME relationship managers to talk to their clients. Right now banks do a lot of waiting for clients to come to then, and they the first thing we ask is to provide the last 3 years of accounts. I’m proposing a reversal of that. Get the accounts by allowing SMEs to upload them to their Internet Banking platform, offer free financial analysis and on the basis of smart analysis, provide the services customers need as they need them, not only when they ask for them.

Conclusion

Business Internet Banking can become the platform for so much more leverage with Business clients, but today it is a very basic transactional platform for the bulk of customers. We need to shift it to become the PFM of business banking – a toolset that enables the bank to help your business when you need the help, not only when you ask for it.

I’ll discuss Business Internet Banking for the large corporate on my next blog.

Does your Internet Banking suck?

In Customer Experience, Internet Banking, Offer Management, Retail Banking on August 25, 2010 at 07:44

Is it just me or have you noticed that the pages behind the login for your bank haven’t changed much in the last 5 or 6 years?

According to the omnipresent Wikipedia, Stanford Federal Credit Union was the first financial institution to offer online internet banking services to all of its members in October 1994. Interestingly, while the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act introduced some important elements to support internet banking, it wasn’t until 2002 that the The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency issued final regulations on the use of Electronic Banking for US-based banks. This informs another key innovator’s dilemma. That of trailing regulation. In fact, it’s also indicative more broadly of the speed at which the banking industry adapts to changes of the significance of the introduction of the Internet. Far too slow for the rate of change that is occurring these days.

Excuse me sir, your Internet banking is looking a little tattered…

I wrote recently on The Finanser’s Blog about the problem of lack of investment in Internet banking by the mainstream banks. The issue is that when you categorize Internet banking internally as a channel where you migrate customers to reduce cost, the initial impetus for investment in Internet banking is just getting the required functionality in place – once in place, and cost savings on-track, it’s hard to get further investment in the customer experience behind the login because it’s already doing its job.

The problem is – it isn’t doing its job.

The assumption that internet banking behind the login is about transactional costs savings for the bank is a very bad assumption. It assumes that customers are using the channel to save the bank money, when customers are actually using the channel for convenience and to increasingly engage the bank on the fundamentals of day-to-day banking. The increase of online banking usage just doesn’t want to slow down because of this behavioral shift, and unless banks understand and adapt to this shift, their internet banking platforms will increasingly isolate customers who want more convenience and control. Here’s how comScore, who has been measuring this since 2006, characterizes the relentless take-up of internet banking:

Since the inaugural comScore online banking report in 2006, the number of DDA customers visiting the top 10 online banking sites has increased from approximately 40 million people to more than 58 million people. In any given quarter, nearly 60 percent of the total U.S. Internet population visits at least one of the top 20 financial institution (FIs) sites.
Comscore: 2010 State of Online Banking Report

This is played out across the world. In looking at data on major website and internet banking redesigns, the fact is that since the launch of Internet banking in the last 90s and early 2000’s most banks update their public website’s look and feel every couple of years, whereas they’ve only updated behind the login capability every 3-5 years at most and in general the last round of updates was largely cosmetic. And yet, the growth keeps coming…Look at the statistics for Commonwealth Bank of Australia for monthly logins between 2007-2010 as reported in The Age of August 12th, 2010.

Year CBA Monthly Logins
2007 18.5mil
2008 22.9mil
2009 29.3mil
2010 35.6mil

See more details at CommBank Investors site

That’s a 92% increase in usage between 2007-2010. This trend is borne out the world over. Internet banking usage is increasingly not only in that a larger portion of the population is logging in, but that existing customers are logging in more frequently. So if Internet banking needs more than just a facelift, what exactly does Internet banking need to become to capture the behavioral needs of the customers who are using it?

More than bill pay – my financial control tower

What I need more than a transaction dashboard, more than pure functionality is something that helps me manage my finances. Right now Internet Banking is to intelligence, what an old mainframe dumb terminal is to an iPad. Extremely primitive. There are some solutions out there right now that do an admirable job of personal financial management, I’d rank Geezeo’s and Yodlee’s toolset and Mint as solutions every bank should be looking at. Geezeo has taken it once step further of recent times with their customizable widget/dashboard approach.

The thing is most banks are not yet using PFM and many claim the jury is out on whether or not PFM really generates strong ROI. Intuit certainly sees differently, their acquisition of Mint late last year for US$170m is telling – they see the future in managing the finances of individuals.

The top three activities within Internet banking are still checking account balances, transfers and bill payment. But just adding PFM functionality is not necessarily going to be the answer to solve the flagging, lagging development of the world behind the login. More is needed.

The future of the login

What customers will be looking for from their Internet banking portal moving forward is more control. More than just offering the ability to pay bills, customers will be looking for integrated bill management – this is not just direct debit services. Customers will be looking to see a consolidated view of their billing relationships, and have their internet banking dashboard help manage bill payments automatically. This will require banks to be integrated in respect to data with utility companies, telecomms network operators, cable companies, and the usual suspects. The Internet banking dashboard will become the place I go to see my aggregated monthly expenses, drill down on individual accounts and statements, and setup rules for automated bill management.

On the products side, banks are going to have to start to get a lot more proactive. For example, if I have a lump sum sitting in my savings or deposit account, the bank could show me how much interest I could be earning if I invested that in either a term deposit, CD or in something more exotic like an equity-linked investment. On my credit card statement, that large ticket item purchase you made last month…the bank could offer to put that on a 12-month payment plan at a lower interest rate. Observing that you do a lot of travel, the bank could proactively upgrade your credit card to a deal that gets you free air miles with your favorite airline.

In addition to those more obvious elements, the whole multi-channel thing will start to come into play here too. For example, the dashboard will also let me manage alerts. Increasingly we’ll have to handle of whole lot of messages in respect to ingoing and outgoing payments, warnings about upcoming bills where your balance is short, location-based offers for retailers that you frequent and where you get a discount for using your NFC mobile enabled credit card, and other trigger-based alerts or offers that you subscribe to.

Mobile has to become one of the primary acquisition tools that banks will use in the future, but to ensure that this channel is not abused by overeager marketers, we’ll need a filter mechanism. That means that you’ll need somewhere to tell the bank what you will and won’t accept being sent either by SMS or to the the apps that you utilize on your smartphone. The Internet banking dashboard will need to manage all of this – it will be a critical tool in managing the multi-channel relationship.

If you’re a bank you better get serious about investing behind the login – you’ve got a long way to go.

If you are on the corporate banking side, stay tuned…I’ll talk about corporate Internet banking dashboards next

Online Fraud and Privacy is not that big a deal…eventually

In Retail Banking on August 4, 2010 at 20:34

I hear a lot of individuals in the financial services space expressing concerns about the risk of conducting business online, the lack of privacy in social media, the issues of identity theft and so forth. I’m not sure what these proponents of the ‘high-risk involvement’ model hope to accomplish, but if they realistically think that flagging concerns about privacy and online fraud will make ANY sort of dent in the progress of digital engagement through online, mobile, or social media – their mental health may need to be assessed. The best they can hope for is increased awareness of the issues.

Dealing with the digital landscape as far as payments and identity is inevitable. The issue becomes how to manage your online presence moving forward, and not if you should be conducting commerce digitally or participating in social networks.

It’s easier to commit fraud offline

While we hear lots about online fraud, the fact is that when it comes to things like credit card fraud, it is still far, far easier to commit fraud when a physical card or physical process is involved. Recently I was in London launching BANK 2.0, and at every restaurant where I presented my card, the waiter would come to the table with a wireless POS terminal to present my card. This is undoubtedly because of the simple risk associated with letting my credit card out of my sight. It takes just seconds to run a card through a mag reader and replicate that card physically. Even with CHIP and PIN, which is common throughout the EU, it would not be that hard to shoulder surf your PIN number if I really wanted to.

I used a foreign credit card in the UK, however, so I am not afforded the protection of PIN when I’m visiting the UK. In most instances I was actually asked to show my card to verify the signature, but in reality if someone had duplicated my card, then the signature they’d be using would be one they had created in any case. In the US , there is not even the protection of CHIP and PIN, and the physical processes allow for easy access to copy a credit or debit card.

The fact is, the weakest link when it comes to fraud is always the physical medium. Granted, phishing attacks designed to glean your account number and password for Internet banking is today a major issue, but again the weakest link is not the technology but the customer who willing submits his information to a fraudulent site.

Many markets have already solved this problem through two-factor authentication (TFA). The markets who have moved slower on this innovation, are obviously now reaping the reward for their lack of innovation. It is, in fact, not that fraud is easier online, it is that card issuers, retailers, banks and regulators simply are not keeping up with the behavioral shift to digital and have not leveraged the quite simple technologies that actually make digital more secure.

The US is only now moving to new POS infrastructures around contactless cards, and the fact that the EU still has yet to broadly adopted TFA are just examples of lack of innovation in fraud management. Customers move with innovations in the digital space, banker’s don’t and fraudsters exploit the gaps while they can.

Increasing digital interactions are inevitable – deal with it.

I find it amusing that those that are strongest in vocalizing the risks in online privacy are often those that in reality have the most to gain. For example, while check (or cheque) fraud is less frequent today, the fact is that the check in itself is an outmoded payment mechanism. It is not an efficient way to pay in almost any measure that makes sense today. Checks are cumbersome to carry, error prone, easily corrupted, costly and are increasingly difficult to handle, especially if you are trying to cash a check issued cross-border for example.

I’ve heard bankers argue till they’re blue in the face that checks are here to stay, and yet in the same breath they admit that they don’t know how they are going to continue to afford to process checks and admit data increasingly shows that in developed markets checks are in terminal decline.

So why aren’t banks rushing to embrace person-to-person payment capabilities, improving interbank connectivity, and trying to integrate better, simpler security mechanisms into electronic interactions? The only thing I can figure is that there is so much organizational inertia around traditional mechanisms like checks and TT’s that is often just seen as too hard to change.

The fact is today that no government, no bank, no threat on the planet, could viably stop the adoption of social media, mobile phones, payment technologies like P2P and other such innovations. It is simply a question of how soon – not if.

How digital will be far safer

Commercial interactions in the digital realm are instantaneous, completely auditable, measurable and can occur anytime, anywhere without the requirement of any specific physical instrument, except a browser or mobile phone. The fact that I can pay you in real-time, without any special process or instrument is ultimately the big draw-card.

So how do we make it safe. Embedding payments into the phone is the first step. The combination of the phone SIM, the ownership of the physical platform (handset) and the payment process will be safer than today’s credit card process. However, the simple incorporation of biometrics, the most promising being fingerprint, voice or facial recognition, will make such transactions magnitudes safer than current physical payment processes, including cash.

The likelihood is that Apple, Google or the handset manufacturers will likely be the ones to lead with these technologies, rather than banks working to incorporate such into the platforms. But the patents are already out there, we’re just waiting for the commercialization.

Biometrics are the ultimate solution to digital privacy

What about privacy?

The reality is, I don’t know of one individual who has stopped using Facebook, Twitter, email or their mobile phone as a result of privacy concerns. That doesn’t mean as individuals we should be complacent. The fact is, that we’ll probably end up with two distinct personas when it comes to the digital space.

  1. Our public persona, where we accept a compromised privacy level in respect to our personal details (email, profile, date of birth, etc), and
  2. A secure persona, which we will protect fiercely because of the financial implications or risk.

The biggest risk to our secure persona today is identity theft. Recent twitter hacks, facebook scams, hotmail account takeovers and other examples occur because it is still relatively easy to get someone’s credentials through an App, phishing site, or other such methods. Again, the answer here is that our secure persona needs to be linked to biometrics and not weak mechanisms around an ID and password. I don’t see anyone working on this as yet, but it is the obvious answer and the core technology is pretty much there. We just need one of the big Social Media networks like FB or say Apple with their iPhone/iPad to embed it and it will become ubiquitous fast.

But one thing that won’t happen is a mass exodus away from digital innovations through privacy concerns.