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Archive for July, 2011

Hey, Banks: Business Customers Want To Be Mobile Too

July 18, 2011 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

Banking is going mobile. There’s no doubt about it. Mobile phones and tablets are replacing the PC. So far, however, banks have been primarily aiming their mobile banking initiatives at consumers. That’s leaves a large, untapped opportunity for pioneering banks to offer mobile services to corporate customers.

There’s high demand, according to an Aite Group survey of over 300 treasury professionals conducted in late 2010. Two-thirds of those surveyed said that they would be at least “somewhat likely” to use basic mobile banking services if their bank offered them. Over 40 percent responded that they would be “likely” or “very likely.” Sounds like an opportunity to me.

Corporate customers are looking for information and the ability to execute. According to a February 2011 Treasury Strategies Incorporated survey, treasury professionals want to (in order of priority) view balances, release payments, authorize payments, confirm trades, execute trades and have access to administrator functions.

It makes sense. Business—especially small business—can go on hold due to key executives being inaccessible or out of the office. Payroll release or wire transfers over a certain amount may need approval before they can go through. Mobile banking would allow execs to review and approve payments remotely.
Itinerant small business customers would like the capability to move funds across accounts, process a payment and handle positive pay decisions, all without having to get to an office and log in.

Right now, banks have the opportunity to gain new customers by offering mobile services before their competitors, improve existing customer relationships with the direct communication channel mobile provides, and generates additional revenue streams through new products’ fees.

For instance, a small business owner who provides services has to rent a hand-held terminal to process payments. He ends up paying an annual fee for the privilege of using the equipment to accept credit cards.

However, technology exists today that allows this small business owner to use take a picture of a customer’s credit card with the camera on an iPhone, and process the payment. Similarly, with remote deposit capture, the business owner can deposit a check into his account or send an invoice.

At this point, it’s really up to the creativity of the banks to offer new services that make life easier for their business customers. The Sybase 365 Corporate Mobile Banking solution gives banks the ability to provide the kinds of solutions their business customers want within a matter of months.

RBS Citizens bank launched its accessMOBILE solution, built on the Sybase 365 Corporate Mobile Banking solution, in November of 2010. Leveraging the bank’s existing online platform, and taking just 10 months to complete, accessMOBILE is available to customers using iPhone. Six months later, customers had downloaded the app 2,500 times, and were providing rave reviews. First Tennessee Bank launched its own full-featured mobile offering in June, also built on the same Sybase 365 platform.

The demand for corporate mobile banking very definitely exists—and will likely grow. The benefits are compelling, for banks and their customers. The platform is available today. Forward-thinking banks are already doing it.

The window of opportunity is right now. It’s time to offer corporate mobile banking or get left behind.

Mobile Payments Have Already Taken Off in the U.S.

July 5, 2011 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

I keep hearing people ask why mobile payments haven’t taken off in the U.S. My answer: “They have!” But many of us haven’t realized it yet.

When you use your mobile device to purchase and acquire something, that’s a mobile payment. By that definition, I’d say that everyone who’s ever downloaded an app to their mobile device has already done it, because the act of downloading requires a kind of payment. Even if no money is exchanged, the consumer must still enter their account credentials, just as if the app costs money.

At this point, we all expect the payments for those apps to be handled via our mobile. The notion is embedded in our minds, and our behavior has changed accordingly. We set up an account through iTunes, eBay, or another merchant, and then make purchases through our devices. We already expect this kind of simplicity. Apple’s announcements related to iCloud and not requiring tethering an iPhone to PC, will only further the advance of mobile payments.

Yet still, people are looking to telcos and banks, asking when we’re going to get a mobile payment infrastructure, and forgetting that mobile payments have already taken off via smartphones, and merchants have taken the lead. Telcos and banks are just now beginning to recognize it, hence the push for cloud wallets, NFC payments, enhanced operator billing, etc.

However the key to this stealth progress of mobile payments has been enrolling customers. Apple signed up millions of customers through iTunes, and now they leverage those accounts for selling not only music, but also apps, movies and TV shows. With the innovation that’s come out of Cupertino, CA in the last several years, I won’t be surprised if Apple continues to expand what it sells through iTunes accounts. As new mobile payment systems roll out, they won’t be compared to writing a check or swiping a card. They’ll be compared to the easy, elegant iPhone and Android process. Those mobile payments are so intuitive, that consumers barely realized they were doing something revolutionary.

Now that the mobile payments horse is out of the barn, the important thing to note is that the hardest thing—changing consumer behavior—has already been achieved. However, this is very specific to the North American market. We will continue to see proliferation of telco-sponsored mobile wallets in other parts of the world as competition heats up to enroll those customers.