Innovation Spotlight: First Internet Bank


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David Becker, President and CEO

Before he understood banking, David Becker understood technology and its ability to shape the customer experience. Highly attuned to how people would want to bank in the future, Becker started First Internet Bank in 1999, now a $2.4 billion asset institution in Fishers, Indiana. In his 35 years working in financial services technology, Becker has created five companies listed in Inc. magazine’s 500 fast growing companies and continues to engage in philanthropic initiatives to support the economic growth of central Indiana.

When you first told people you were starting a branchless bank, what reaction did you receive?
Nearly 20 years ago, I had an idea to create a bank that lived entirely online. At the time, I had three financial services software companies. Today, we would call them fintechs. My experience as a service provider to the financial services industry, and my years as a consumer and business bank client, gave me deep insight into how banks worked, and, candidly, how they could improve.

How did bankers react? I initially presented my concept to a traditional bank, explaining how a bank could build a nationwide business with an all-online presence. After the presentation, though, the bank’s CEO rejected our concept. He claimed computers weren’t fast enough and the alleged consumer wouldn’t buy in. Essentially, he said it couldn’t be done.

Fortunately, consumers did not share the same skepticism. What’s unique about our story is that this online banking model was born following a focus group with my friends and neighbors. I asked them about how they’d prefer to bank. The ideas flowed. Eighteen years and $2 billion in assets later, we have demonstrated the success that can follow when you remain focused on the customer.

What lessons did you learn working in the technology sector that later helped you as you were growing First Internet Bank?
Before launching First Internet Bank, I worked in and around financial services for years. I saw an opportunity to improve upon the industry’s shortcomings—primarily improving efficiency and the customer experience, both of which rely heavily on technology paired with a human touch.

What’s helped us grow so quickly is that we’ve recognized that we need talented people who can handle anything that comes in the door. Because we have no tellers, per se, everyone who works on our retail banking team, for example, needs to be trained across multiple technologies to handle multiple functions, from complex IRA transactions to mobile functionality to starting new deposit accounts.

And because we’re using technology like mobile banking and biometrics, to revolutionize the banking process, there really isn’t any limit to our potential growth.

How can bank boards start to adapt an entrepreneurial mindset that allows for innovation?
Because we were a pioneer of the branchless model, we’ve learned to use technology to help us adapt to challenges and reinvent ourselves. Technology enables us to expand our business, enter new verticals to diversify our revenue streams, and serve customers across the country—without a costly branch network.

Technology is an increasingly important part of our business, and there is much to be said about the ways fintech is changing the landscape of our industry. However, I would caution boards against looking to a fintech solution as a quick fix to bring innovation to your organization. If you truly want to foster a culture of innovation, look to your existing team.

Today, our hire is the “dissatisfied banker.” We look for the banker who says, “What if we did this instead?” We want the people who challenge the status quo and offer solutions to help us make it better. At First Internet Bank, we call this our “entrepreneurial spirit,” and it permeates the organization.

Our people are the key to our success. Some are bankers that have finally been empowered to do what they’ve always wanted to do. Others are industry outsiders that we’ve hired to bring new solutions to old problems.

Why Banks Are Slow to Embrace P2P Payments


P2P-7-3-17.pngMost banks have been reluctant to offer person-to-person (P2P) payments services, although the market—which the research firm Aite Group estimates has at least $1.2 trillion in annual payments volume in the United States alone—probably deserves a closer look.

Writing in a May 2017 research report, Talie Baker, a senior analyst in Aite’s retail banking and payments practice, argues that a P2P payments capability could be a “competitive differentiator” for financial institutions as they fight for market share in a crowded mobile banking market. And it’s a market that could be heating up as both traditional banks and fintech companies with their own payments offerings jockey for competitive advantage. “The P2P payments market is seeing growth in the adoption of digital payments, and both bank and nonbank providers, including tech giants such as Facebook and Google, are looking for ways to secure a piece of the P2P payments pie,” she wrote.

Most financial institutions offer a P2P option either through the Zelle Network (formerly clearXchange), which is owned by a consortium of banks and launched its new P2P service in June, or Popmoney, which is owned by Fiserv, the largest provider of core technology services to the industry. A total of 34 institutions currently offer Zelle, including the country’s four largest banks—J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp., Wells Fargo & Co. and Citigroup. Alternative providers include Facebook Messenger, Google Wallet, Square, PayPal through either its PayPal.me or Venmo services, and Dublin, Ireland-based Circle.

With 83 percent of the digital P2P market share in the U.S., compared just 17 percent for the alternative providers, banks are clearly in command of the space. Some of that advantage is attributable to the industry’s large installed base of mobile customers. “They have a captive audience to start with … and that gives them a one-up on, for example, a Venmo or a Square that don’t have a captive customer base and have to go out and build their business through referrals,” says Baker. However, the banks need to be careful that their big market share advantage doesn’t result in complacency. “Alternative providers are catching up from a popularity perspective and are doing more volume, and banks probably need to step up their game a little bit from a marketing perspective to keep their market share,” Baker says.

Why hasn’t the P2P market grown faster than it has until now? For one thing, P2P providers generally will have a difficult time charging for the service since consumer adoption has been slow. “Checks are free today, it’s free to get money from an ATM, so if [the services] are not free, I don’t know if they’re going to be popular for the long haul,” Baker says.

Another obstacle is the enduring popularity—and utility—of cash. Baker says that many potential users are still comfortable using cash or checks to settle small debts with friends and family—which is still the primary use case for P2P services. “I love being able to make electronic payments personally, I just have found that my peer group is not as up on it,” says Baker, who did not give her age but said she was older than a millennial.

The biggest impediment to the market’s growth, however, is the lack of what Baker calls “ubiquity,” which simply means “being available everywhere, all the time.” Cash and checks are widely accepted mediums of exchange, while most P2P services run on proprietary networks. “All of them are lacking in interoperability, so if we want to exchange money and I am using Venmo and you are using Square, we can’t,” Baker says. Baker points out that this is not unlike how things worked when email was becoming popular in the early days of the internet, where you could only exchange emails with people who shared the same service provider. Of course, a common protocol eventually emerged for emails and Baker expects the same evolution to eventually occur in the P2P space.

Why should banks care about a free service like P2P payments? Baker says that based on her conversations, many smaller institutions “don’t seem to understand that P2P helps drive consumer engagement. I think that P2P services keep them right at the center of a consumer’s life and keeps driving engagement with the banking brand.”

Three Top Trends in Mobile Banking: What You Need to Know


mobile-banking-6-21-17.pngIt comes as no surprise that today’s banks need mobile solutions to stand a chance of satisfying their customers. You’ve probably heard of the Big 5 of mobile banking, the essential features that are now an absolute must-have for the modern customer, including: the ability to transfer funds between accounts, pay bills, make deposits, locate ATMs and branches and conduct peer-to-peer payments.

These essentials are an excellent starting point for banks developing mobile solutions. However, the truth of the matter is that the basics are no longer enough. Any bank that has entered the 21st century provides their customers these capabilities. In order to differentiate their products, drive profits and keep their customers satisfied, modern banks must find ways to use mobile to offer customers more value and convenience and be more relevant to their daily lives.

Many of the largest banks have already realized this and have been working diligently to develop creative new solutions. Perhaps that’s a large part of why these banks have managed to pull ahead of community banks in customer satisfaction rates, a surprising development considering that community banks are commonly thought to have the personal touch.

However, who’s really owning the mobile banking space are companies that aren’t banks at all. Apps like Venmo have taken the mobile banking world by storm and are edging banks out of their rightful place as financial service providers. To stay on top of the latest mobile banking trends, banks should keep an eye on three larger mobile trends and follow suit with their own offerings.

So, what’s the latest?

No. 1: Intuitive Interfacing
The banks who have been most successful with their mobile banking have found ways to make the experience as intuitive for their customers as possible. One of the ways they’ve done this is through eliminating complicated menus and interfacing mobile capabilities into the features that customers are already familiar with.

For example, customers can now use their smartphones’ voice control to request and make payments from PayPal’s Venmo, one of the most popular peer-to-peer payments apps. Users don’t have to navigate the app—or even directly use it—to transfer money between friends. Instead, they can simply instruct their phone and their payments are taken care of.

To ensure their mobile offerings are attractive, banks should first and foremost make sure they’re easy-to-use and provide customers with a seamless experience they don’t have to think about twice.

No. 2: Artificial Intelligence
Voice-activated devices like Amazon’s Alexa have recently introduced artificial intelligence into the mainstream. Banks on the cutting edge have already recognized this technology’s potential to provide an enhanced customer experience that offers more value and have begun capitalizing on it.

Perhaps the best example of this is Erica, Bank of America’s soon-to-be-released chatbot, which can now go beyond the Big 5 basics to impart personalized advice on customers’ finances.

Companies outside of financial services are finding creative ways to utilize artificial intelligence as well. One interesting example is the app Digit, which helps the user build savings by connecting to his or her checking account and automatically making transfers to an FDIC-insured savings account based on income and spending activity. Users no longer need to think about practicing better financial habits; instead; they have an algorithm to do it for them.

No. 3: The Subscription-Based Model
Subscription-based services like Spotify, Netflix and Amazon Prime are influencing purchase trends and consumers’ expectations of the companies they work with, including their banks. These fee-based services offer value at an affordable price and can easily be controlled and customized based on the user’s need.

Also interesting to note is that a recent survey indicated access to discounts as a primary impetus for customers to not switch from their current bank. Money-saving deals can promote better fiscal health and allow customers to save more than they’re able to make in today’s interest rate environment. Plus, the bank is at the point of sale whenever consumers make a purchase.

The payment models utilized by services such as Amazon can clue banks in to how they should structure their own mobile offerings. And in fact, the top six banks have all been developing their own rewards-based shopping programs, which may be part of the reason why they’ve managed to pull ahead in customer satisfaction.

These are just a few of many mobile trends that are currently all the rage in banking. But it’s important to remember that mobile is ever-evolving, and today’s trends won’t be tomorrow’s. Banks must be ever-vigilant about observing what’s happening in the mobile space and think about ways they can keep innovating their own offerings to stand apart from the crowd and make sure their products and services please their customers.

How MySpend by TD & Moven Helps People Track Expenses


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If there’s one thing most consumers wish they could do better when it comes to managing their finances, it’s keeping tabs on spending. And while various technologies, apps and solutions have hit the market to help banking customers track their spending, one unique partnership is helping people get even more insight into where, when and how much they spend.

As the second largest bank in Canada—and 19th largest in the world—Toronto-based TD Bank serves over 22 million customers worldwide and over 11 million in Canada alone. And as an international big banking player, TD Bank faces stiff competition from competitors when it comes to offering branded money management and expense tracking technology. More and more, consumers are looking for apps that can help them monitor their expenses in real-time, on-the-go via smartphones and tablets. Bank of America, for instance, incorporated budgeting and expense tracking capabilities into the latest update of its mobile banking application.

Enter Moven, a New York-based fintech company focused on providing mobile capabilities to consumer facing financial services companies. Moven’s current white-label mobile product offerings to banks include a variety of functionality—from credit score monitoring and mobile banking to budgeting and expense tracking. That’s why Moven was a logical partner when TD Bank was searching for a company to help it develop a next-generation mobile expense tracking app. The result of this partnership was MySpend, a mobile, real-time expense tracking and money management app, made available to TD’s Canadian customer base.

The TD MySpend app was released in April of 2016, and quickly shot up to the number one spot in the category of free money management apps in the Canadian app store.

“Within nine months [MySpend] exceeded 850,000 registered users,” says Rizwan Khalfan, TD Banks’ chief digital officer. “[And] we are seeing customers who are using the app reduce their spending by around four to eight percent, with most frequent users seeing the greatest impact.”

MySpend alerts customers in real-time when any spending occurs using a TD Bank product or service, from a cashed check to credit card expenditures. Not only does this help customers keep tabs on their spending, it also serves to address potential fraudulent activity as soon as possible. MySpend also automatically categorizes all transactions, so customers can quickly log into the app and see how much they spent on rent, utilities, entertainment and so on. For a deeper level of insight, Moven built in a feature that compares a customer’s current month’s spending with their average normal spending patterns of prior months.

“I think the most compelling [MySpend] feature is the continual engagement with customers with the notifications,” notes Greg Midtbo, Moven’s chief revenue officer. “Before they even put their card away they get a notification, for example, of how much they spent dining out and how it fits into their monthly budget.”

The partnership with TD is also a great strategic move for Moven, as the firm is able to reach even more consumers with their technology using the white-label partnership model.

“We realized early on that we couldn’t get tens of millions of customers using the app across multiple geographies without partners like TD,” says Brett King, CEO and founder of Moven. “[Partners like TD] bring us real scale and solve one of the biggest problems that fintechs face today, which is recurring revenue growth.”

MySpend also illustrates the trend of banks partnering with fintech players to better utilize the large amount of customer data they possess, to turn back around and help those same customers succeed financially. While massive adoption rates and high app store rankings are great, the most impressive thing about TD and Moven’s partnership is that it’s helping customers save money. People that engage with the MySpend app on a regular basis have been found to spend less money than TD customers who don’t use the app, or use it infrequently.

The success that TD Bank and Moven are seeing with MySpend only increases the likelihood that the partnership will continue to expand. This could mean developing new features and capabilities within the MySpend app—Moven is already established in the mobile payments space—or making MySpend available to its millions of customers in the U.S. and even the U.K.

That’s because for Canadian consumers thus far, it’s been a simple equation—more time on MySpend equals less spending.

This is one of 10 case studies that focus on examples of successful innovation between banks and financial technology companies working in partnership. The participants featured in this article were finalists at the 2017 Best of FinXTech Awards.

Don’t Forget Your Umbrella: How to Protect Your Bank From Financial Crimes


risk-management-6-13-17.pngWith banks of all sizes facing significant challenges in the management of financial crime risk, senior management and bank board members need an unambiguous understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of their organizations’ financial crime compliance strategy.

The escalation of mobile banking, the burgeoning role of fintech in banking and the spread of cybercrime are only a few of the key reasons for banks to establish a process that views financial crime risks in the aggregate—under one umbrella. Further, in our view, directors must have a firm grasp with respect to how the program has been designed and implemented.

An integrated view of financial crime compliance risk can give board members a sense of confidence that management has a robust financial crime compliance program in place. A view of issues in the aggregate provides management the ability to understand the entirety of the financial crimes landscape at their firm.

At their core, these programs require a dynamic and agile mindset at the board level. Directors must possess a level of confidence that management has established a strategic, well considered approach to detecting, preventing and reporting financial crime. A carefully managed, well designed, and integrated plan can also create considerable governance benefits across internal silos.

For banks currently without an integrated plan, the creation of such a plan requires:

  • A strategic vision of a future program that engages senior management in the first line of defense (lines of businesses and operations) in the design of the vision—and has buy-in by the entire board.
  • The integration of teams that in the past have approached such risks in a separate manner, such as compliance programs for anti-money laundering, anti-bribery and corruption, and Office of Foreign Assets Controls.
  • A vision for how to change or enhance the bank’s information technology (IT) infrastructure.
  • The designation of an individual as the bank’s financial crimes compliance officer.

Building an integrated financial crimes program under an umbrella structure presents opportunities for collaboration, improved data aggregation and analytics capabilities, heightened board awareness of the bank’s control environment, and the possibility of cost savings and enhanced regulatory compliance.

The establishment of a centralized financial crimes compliance unit, however, requires a multi-faceted approach. Employee roles and responsibilities will likely shift, policies and procedures many need to be consolidated to reflect the new approach, and compliance reporting mechanisms and IT responsibilities will be altered.

Recognizing that the landscape will shift, we offer a roadmap to an integrated financial crimes compliance program. Here’s a synopsis of our five-step plan for your board’s consideration:

  1. Compliance leaders recognize the importance of cultivating partnerships with business-unit leaders across the bank—as well as their internal audit teams. Thus, building a cross-functional working team is a must across the bank’s “three lines of defense:” the front office and lines of business, the support functions such as compliance and finally, audit. These members should consider perceived benefits, anticipated costs and potential obstacles. Dialogue and trust is essential.
  2. The team should strive to gain a clear view of the bank’s current risk management efforts and assess the underlying financial crimes risks. Too many institutions stumble at this stage by adopting models that may work for larger or more-regulated institutions, or conversely for smaller institutions with a different product mix or jurisdictional presence.
  3. The cross-functional team should draft a working plan for the centralized compliance unit, and the team should provide the draft plan, which would include the recommended step-by-step approach to establishing the unit, to board members and executive leadership for review. The plan would identify the individuals who will design and roll out the changes, the governance and oversight structure of the transformation program, and the unit’s staffing model.
  4. Perhaps as much as any these steps, clear and frequent communication to bank personnel about the program’s intentions, benefits and impacts is vital. Board members should be satisfied that management has established a plan for the timing and cadence of communications, has identified which audience will be targeted at each step, and has created specific messages to the bank staff regarding why the establishment of the unit is necessary and how it will benefit the organization.
  5. Once the bank has embedded its Financial Crimes Compliance Program, management must be certain that monitoring and testing mechanisms are working continuously, and that the firm is equipped to deal with changes as regulations change or are introduced.

A final reminder is worth noting: The journey is never over. Financial crime compliance risk, as a board agenda item, should be a constant.

How Green Dot is Helping Uber Drivers Access Cash on the Go


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For just about anyone participating in the on-demand economy—from Uber drivers to Airbnb hosts—there’s always one major question: When will I get paid?

And in many cases, it’s more a matter of having access to funds they’ve already earned than customers paying them for their services. Between ACH transfer delays and bank clearing policies, it can be days (or sometimes weeks) before on-demand workers gain access to their money. This can negatively impact workers’ ability to budget, pay bills and meet their daily living expenses.

That’s precisely when Uber recently decided to partner with Green Dot, a financial services provider specializing in the issuance of pre-paid debit cards. In March 2016, Green Dot and Uber announced the introduction of “GoBank,” a mobile checking account solution for Uber drivers that provides them with access to cash from their Uber accounts almost instantaneously.

At its core, the GoBank concept allows Uber drivers to withdraw cash from their Uber accounts while the transactions are clearing. Green Bank is basically fronting drivers the funds until the transactions have cleared. Drivers can spend the money using an Uber Debit Card wherever Visa is accepted, or withdraw cash from any GoBank’s 42,000 ATMs nationwide without incurring any fees. The debit card is also linked to a small business checking account provided by GoBank, which focuses on mobile banking functionality first and foremost. Another feature called Instant Pay allows drivers to link a GoBank checking account with their Uber account and transfer money immediately into their checking up to five times per day.

These kinds of solutions are in line with Green Dot’s over-arching goal, which is to service the underbanked and low credit score sector of the population by partnering with major brands. For example, Green Dot recently teamed up with Wal-Mart to offer the Wal-Mart Everyday Visa Card. The goal of deals with the likes of Uber and Wal-Mart, according to Green Dot CEO Steve Streit, is to deepen the company’s ties with at least half of all U.S. households that earn less than $50,000 per year. Increasingly, Green Dot is focusing on enhancing its traditional mix of products and services with mobility and mobile solutions, which is one of the reasons that partnering with Uber makes so much sense.

Green Dot’s commitment to mobile goes all the way back to 2012 with the acquisition of a mobile app development company called Loopt. The underlying Loopt technology was utilized to develop the GoBank mobile banking solution. Outside of the ATM network, GoBank has no brick and mortar locations, making it a completely digital bank focused on mobile as its primary distribution channel. That means users can perform unique functions like check their account balance without having to log in, send money via SMS and open a new account solely through the mobile app. This focus on mobile solutions for the underbanked positions GoBank to be an extremely useful partner to Uber and its drivers moving forward. Drivers can even open a GoBank account from within the Uber app itself.

Uber, as the world’s leading ridesharing service, is pushing to streamline its relationships and processes with both drivers and customers, and overcome recent public relations issues. Competition for drivers has been heating up with major rival Lyft, which announced its own proprietary driver cash-out solution called Express Pay, shortly before Uber and Green Dot unveiled the Uber Debit Card by GoBank. Express Pay experiences heavy volume, with upwards of $40 million being cashed out by drivers in any given month. Uber no doubt is expecting Instant Pay to eclipse that number rather quickly, since it still has the lion’s share of drivers signed up to its app nationwide.

Uber began piloting the Uber Debit Card by GoBank shortly after announcing its partnership with Green Dot, and the solution managed to gain significant usage amongst drivers in a relatively short amount of time. This led Uber to open the program to all its drivers nationwide in June 2016, with over 100,000 drivers signed up for the Uber Debit Card by GoBank by August. The positive feedback is leading Green Dot and Uber to extend the functionality of the solution, with the availability of Instant Pay for any checking account (GoBank or otherwise) being one new feature in the development pipeline.

Getting paid in a timely manner has been a longstanding issue for drivers who rely on income from ride-sharing apps like Uber. And it’s clear that Uber understands this by aligning itself with an industry leader in financial services for the underbanked like Green Dot. By allowing these drivers to easily open an account, access funds and make payments (all on the go via mobile), Uber is likely to go a long way towards improving its relationship with drivers. It’s a boost the company could use to alleviate some recent friction with drivers, with some filing lawsuits and others wanting to be recognized as full-time employees. However, the Uber Debit Card by GoBank is already incentivizing drivers to remain on the platform, and should also help make their financial lives a lot easier.

This is one of 10 case studies that focus on examples of successful innovation between banks and financial technology companies working in partnership. The participants featured in this article were finalists at the 2017 Best of FinXTech Awards.

Best of FinXTech Award Winners Announced at Nasdaq


award-winner-4-26-17.pngWhile many bankers still think of them as a source of competition, most fintech companies focus on providing solutions that will ultimately make financial institutions more efficient and profitable. True, some fintech firms do compete head-to-head with banks, but the great majority of them are more interested in partnering with banks in ways that will benefit both sides. In recognition of this growing trend towards cooperation, FinXTech.com recently held its 2nd annual Best of FinXTech Awards, which highlights collaborative efforts between banks and fintech companies working together in a successful partnership. From a pool of 10 finalists, three winners were chosen by this year’s FinXTech Advisory Group. The judging criteria were strength of integration, innovation and growth in revenue, reputation and the customer base that resulted form the project. The three teams, whose stories are detailed below, were honored today at the FinXTech Summit in New York.

USAA and Nuance

Headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, USAA wanted to develop a stronger relationship with current customers while also attracting new customers through the use of technology that would meet their needs and preferences. Since 2013, USAA has utilized Burlington, Massachusetts-based Nuance’s virtual assistant technology—called Nina—on its mobile banking app. Nina leverages natural language understanding and artificial intelligence to provide a proactive and personalized customer experience. In 2016, following Nina’s widespread adoption by USAA members on the mobile channel, the bank deployed Nina on its usaa.com website.

On usaa.com, Nina provides immediate, human-like support and assists USAA members with tasks such as activating cards, changing a PIN, adding travel notifications and reporting lost or stolen cards. Nina goes far beyond a static question-and-answer capability to deliver a more human experience that speaks, listens, understands and helps USAA members get things done efficiently. Nina responds to 1.4 million requests per month and eliminates the need for USAA members to sift through menus, ensuring that every interaction begins and ends with an effortless, natural experience. Through its partnership with Nuance, USAA is able to provide its customers with a compelling, multi-channel, automated customer service experience that keeps it ahead of the pack.

Scotiabank and Sensibill

In October 2016, Scotiabank—Canada’s third largest bank—and Sensibill, both of Toronto, launched eReceipts, a service that allows customers to store, organize and retrieve any receipt (paper or electronic) directly from Scotiabank’s mobile banking app and wallet. Scotiabank is the first of the Canadian Tier 1 banks to rollout the solution, and Scotiabank CEO Brian Porter has referred to it as a “game-changing application.”

Sensibill’s receipt processing engines uses deep learning and machine-learning to extract and structure information about each item, including product names and SKU codes. This adds clarity to otherwise vague transactions and reduces the friction associated with searching for a specific purchase. The service is also the first to offer consumers automatic matching of receipts to card transaction histories, which supports customers’ need for convenience and accessibility and enables Scotiabank to provide a seamless end-to-end payment experience.

Scotiabank customers use the service to track both personal and business expenses, with approximately 38 interactions with the service per month per customer. In the same way that online and mobile bill pay serves as a “sticky” product that retains customers who do not want to move their information to another bank, eReceipts has the propensity to reduce attrition. Forty-eight percent of eReceipts users use the app’s folders and notes to keep themselves organized, with captured receipts often being revisited. Not only does the app improve the customer experience, it also has the potential to lower the bank’s costs. For example, Scotiabank believes that 20 percent of credit and debit card queries could have been resolved through the Sensibill app, which ultimately should lead to a reduction in call center activity.

Green Dot Corp. and Uber Technologies Inc.

One of the biggest challenges workers in the gig economy face is gaining speedy access to their earnings. In March 2016, Uber, the transportation network company headquartered in San Francisco, and Green Dot, a prepaid card issuer located in Pasadena, California, launched a customized business version of Green Dot’s GoBank mobile checking account. Initially piloted in San Francisco and a few other cities, the solution provides Uber drivers with immediate access to their funds through a feature called Instant Pay. All drivers do is open a free Uber debit card from a mobile GoBank checking account and use this account to access their earnings instantly, for free, up to five times per day. Drivers are also able to use their Uber debit card for free at any of GoBank’s 42,000 ATMs spread across the country, and can also use it for transactions wherever Visa cards are accepted.

The pilot was so successful that in June 2016, Uber offered the solution to all of its drivers nationally, resulting in over 100,000 drivers signing up since August. That same month, in response to driver feedback and increasing demand, Uber and Green Dot announced it was expanding Instant Pay to work with not only a GoBank account, but almost any U.S. MasterCard, Visa or Discover debit card that is attached to a traditional checking and savings account. The expanded debit card program has scaled quickly, with millions of transactions having occurred between the August launch date and September 30, 2016.

The other seven finalists in this year’s Best of FinXTech Awards were IDFC Bank and TATA Consultancy Services, Franklin Synergy Bank and Built Technologies, National Bank of Kansas City and Roostify, Somerset Trust Co. and BOLTS Technologies, Toronto-Dominion Bank and Moven, Woodforest National Bank and PrecisionLender, and WSFS Bank and LendKey.

Recognizing How Fintech Companies Are Making Banks Better


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While the financial technology sector is still viewed as a source of competition, most fintech companies focus on providing solutions that will ultimately make banks more efficient and profitable. True, some fintech firms do compete head-to-head with banks, but the great majority of them are more interested in partnering with banks in ways that will benefit both sides. In recognition of this growing trend towards cooperation, FinXTech.com recently held its 2nd annual Best of FinXTech Awards, which highlights collaborative efforts between banks and fintech companies working together in a successful partnership. From a pool of 10 finalists, three winners were chosen by this year’s FinXTech Advisory Group. The judging criteria were strength of integration, innovation and growth in revenue, reputation and the customer base that resulted form the project. The three teams, whose stories are detailed below, were honored today at the FinXTech Summit in New York.

USAA and Nuance

Headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, USAA wanted to develop a stronger relationship with current customers while also attracting new customers through the use of technology that would meet their needs and preferences. Since 2013, USAA has utilized Burlington, Massachusetts-based Nuance’s virtual assistant technology—called Nina—on its mobile banking app. Nina leverages natural language understanding and artificial intelligence to provide a proactive and personalized customer experience. In 2016, following Nina’s widespread adoption by USAA members on the mobile channel, the bank deployed Nina on its usaa.com website.

On usaa.com, Nina provides immediate, human-like support and assists USAA members with tasks such as activating cards, changing a PIN, adding travel notifications and reporting lost or stolen cards. Nina goes far beyond a static question-and-answer capability to deliver a more human experience that speaks, listens, understands and helps USAA members get things done efficiently. Nina responds to 1.4 million requests per month and eliminates the need for USAA members to sift through menus, ensuring that every interaction begins and ends with an effortless, natural experience. Through its partnership with Nuance, USAA is able to provide its customers with a compelling, multi-channel, automated customer service experience that keeps it ahead of the pack.

Scotiabank and Sensibill

In October 2016, Scotiabank—Canada’s third largest bank—and Sensibill, both of Toronto, launched eReceipts, a service that allows customers to store, organize and retrieve any receipt (paper or electronic) directly from Scotiabank’s mobile banking app and wallet. Scotiabank is the first of the Canadian Tier 1 banks to rollout the solution, and Scotiabank CEO Brian Porter has referred to it as a “game-changing application.”

Sensibill’s receipt processing engines uses deep learning and machine-learning to extract and structure information about each item, including product names and SKU codes. This adds clarity to otherwise vague transactions and reduces the friction associated with searching for a specific purchase. The service is also the first to offer consumers automatic matching of receipts to card transaction histories, which supports customers’ need for convenience and accessibility and enables Scotiabank to provide a seamless end-to-end payment experience.

Scotiabank customers use the service to track both personal and business expenses, with approximately 38 interactions with the service per month per customer. In the same way that online and mobile bill pay serves as a “sticky” product that retains customers who do not want to move their information to another bank, eReceipts has the propensity to reduce attrition. Forty-eight percent of eReceipts users use the app’s folders and notes to keep themselves organized, with captured receipts often being revisited. Not only does the app improve the customer experience, it also has the potential to lower the bank’s costs. For example, Scotiabank believes that 20 percent of credit and debit card queries could have been resolved through the Sensibill app, which ultimately should lead to a reduction in call center activity.

Green Dot Corp. and Uber Technologies Inc.

One of the biggest challenges workers in the gig economy face is gaining speedy access to their earnings. In March 2016, Uber, the transportation network company headquartered in San Francisco, and Green Dot, a prepaid card issuer located in Pasadena, California, launched a customized business version of Green Dot’s GoBank mobile checking account. Initially piloted in San Francisco and a few other cities, the solution provides Uber drivers with immediate access to their funds through a feature called Instant Pay. All drivers do is open a free Uber debit card from a mobile GoBank checking account and use this account to access their earnings instantly, for free, up to five times per day. Drivers are also able to use their Uber debit card for free at any of GoBank’s 42,000 ATMs spread across the country, and can also use it for transactions wherever Visa cards are accepted.

The pilot was so successful that in June 2016, Uber offered the solution to all of its drivers nationally, resulting in over 100,000 drivers signing up since August. That same month, in response to driver feedback and increasing demand, Uber and Green Dot announced it was expanding Instant Pay to work with not only a GoBank account, but almost any U.S. MasterCard, Visa or Discover debit card that is attached to a traditional checking and savings account. The expanded debit card program has scaled quickly, with millions of transactions having occurred between the August launch date and September 30, 2016.

The other seven finalists in this year’s Best of FinXTech Awards were IDFC Bank and TATA Consultancy Services, Franklin Synergy Bank and Built Technologies, National Bank of Kansas City and Roostify, Somerset Trust Co. and BOLTS Technologies, Toronto-Dominion Bank and Moven, Woodforest National Bank and PrecisionLender, and WSFS Bank and LendKey.

A Review of Emerging Technology Trends


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The emergence of a vibrant financial technology sector has dramatically changed the banking industry by enabling new products and services that cater to the needs and preferences of consumers in today’s digital age. In preparation for FinTech Week, an event that FinXTechis holding April 25-26 in New York, here is a look back at our recent coverage of emerging technology trends and innovation strategies for banks. These stories have appeared on the BankDirector.com website, and in digital and print versions of Bank Director magazine.

ARE YOU A BANKER OR A VISIONARY?
The power of digital banking goes beyond a fundamentally different, more satisfying customer experience.

MAKING SENSE OF FINTECH LENDING MODELS
What type of fintech lending solution should your bank pursue? In this video, Mike Dillon of Akouba outlines what management teams and boards need to know about these lending models, and how each can benefit the bank.

PAYPAL’S BIG BET
The former eBay subsidiary is turning itself into a global payments powerhouse with mobile at the heart of its strategy.

CYBERSECURITY: A BOARDROOM CONVERSATION
Radius Bank CEO Mike Butler sits down for an interview about how to manage the risk of doing business with fintech companies.

COMMUNITY BANKS TO FINTECH: WE NEED YOU
Banks attending the Acquire or Be Acquired Conference in Phoenix, Arizona, discussed ways that technology companies could improve profitability and the customer experience.

GETTING THE MOST OUT OF MOBILE
If you’re on a bank board, it pays to ask some questions about mobile.

HOW STRONG IS YOUR CORE TECHNOLOGY?
Changes in customer preferences and pressure from fintech competitors are forcing banks to innovate. Is your core provider up to the task?

2016 BANK DIRECTOR’S TECHNOLOGY SURVEY
As the banking industry struggles to innovate to meet shifting consumer expectations, 81 percent of bank chief information officers and chief technology officers responding to Bank Director’s 2016 Technology Survey say that their core processor is slow to respond to innovations in the marketplace.

Digital is in Our DNA


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Once your most basic needs in the first two levels of Abraham Maslow’s famous hierarchy of needs have been covered—including food, shelter, security and the like—what do you need then?

According to Maslow, the next three levels of need are Belongingness and Love, Esteem and Self-Actualization. All of these needs are fulfilled in one way or another by various forms of digital media: blogs, emails, twitter and LinkedIn.Combined, the digital mobile world we live in today plays to our basic psychological and self-fulfillment needs, which is why it is so addictive.

According to the Bank of America Corp.’sannual researchinto mobility, millennials spend more time interacting on their phone than with their partner, family, friends and colleagues.

Perhaps this is why many of us are so addicted to selfies and using the camera to stream our daily routines non-stop.It is also why some joker added WiFi and a battery to Maslow’s well known pyramid. (And if Maslow was alive today, he would no doubt agree.)

When we don’t have our phone, we often feel anxious and bored with a fear of missing out on what’s going on. We even walk and talk differently when we are using a mobile phone. The University of Bathfound that people who text had developed a protective shuffle that prevents them bumping into obstacles, or tripping over hazards. This means that it takes those texting 26 percent longer to complete a walking task compared to those who were not distracted by their phones, and it is really annoying. You know, you’re walking along the pavement and someone is shuffling slowly in front of you with that hunched over look that signals they are playing with their mobile phone. You kind of want to hit them in the back of the head and tell them to get out of the way, but don’t because you know you do it yourself. This is the world today, and the reason whysome citiesare introducing texting and non-texting sidewalks.

Before we look at banks, a little test. Turn off your mobile phone and seehow many minutes or hours you can wait before turning it back on again. Do this when you’re not in a meeting or sleeping and have ready access to your phone. I bet none of you last more than an hour.

The reason for giving this insight into the mobile digital age being part of our DNA is that, if our relationships are with and through our digital devices, how does a bank become part of that world? That’s a difficult question. Most bankers think that mobile and digital generally are projects to invest in, not the representation of a cultural transformation.But this dependency on our devices is a cultural transformation. The very fact that we have gone from a phone being a mere communication device to being at the very center of our lives in just one decade is incredible, but true.

Meanwhile, what banks are offering the best mobile experience? In the U.S., it’s JP Morgan Chase & Co.’s Chase retail banking unit, according toMagnify Money. Chase was voted the best mobile banking app in the country for a large bank, and applauded by users for a combination of design and functionality. The app has a lot of the features deemed most important by consumers, which includes fingerprint sign-on, mobile check deposit and the ability to see images of deposited checks. Consumers want to be able to do everything on the app, and Chase has been adding functionality throughout the year to keep people satisfied.

Forrester ranked the world’s best retail mobile banking services and benchmarked the retail mobile banking services of 46 large retail banks across four continents on 40 criteria, and found the average bank scored 65 out of 100.

Australia’s Westpac outstripped the average bank by being strong in every category. The bank earned the highest score in the transactional features category and did particularly well in its range of touch points, account and money management, and marketing and sales. It is one of the few banks to offer contactless mobile payments capability using near-field communication technology. The bank has also rolled out innovative features such as letting customers take pictures of their credit cards to activate them.

Of theother banks reviewed, nine stood out from their peers for their impressive mobile banking capabilities: CaixaBank in Spain, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and Scotiabank in Canada, Garanti in Turkey, Bank of America and Wells Fargo & Co. in the U.S., Bank Zachodni WBK in Poland and Lloyds Bank in the U.K.