What’s the Fuss? Amazon Already Offers Full Suite of Banking Services

Amazon made headlines around the banking/fintech world this week following a WSJ story Monday about a rumored collaboration with Chase Bank and/or Capital One. The click-bait title, Next Up for Amazon: Checking Accounts (apparently revised from the title embedded in the hyperlink, “Are You Ready for an Amazon-branded Checking”) made it go viral in the United States, at least with news organizations.

The facts were less exciting than the headline. Apparently the ecommerce giant issued an RFP last year seeking suppliers of a “hybrid” checking account aimed at younger and unbanked customers (it’s unclear whether that is a single segment “young and underbanked” or two segments, “young” and/or “underbanked”). And there was no indication that any new product was coming now, or ever.

There is one thing missing in the 100+ stories that appeared in the wake of the WSJ piece:

Amazon already is a bank in everything but the name

Here’s a list of its current financial and payment offerings:

  • Amazon Pay: Used by 33 million to pay for goods at non-Amazon sites
  • Amazon Gift Cards: Available at brick & mortar retailers all over the country (I’ve bought more of those than all other gift cards combined)
  • Amazon Store Card, with financing option on qualified purchases: Issued by Synchrony Bank
  • Amazon Cash, a virtual debit card which allows cash deposits to the Amazon Pay wallet
  • Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card, an affinity card issued by Chase Bank (also Amazon Prime Rewards card; see also March 13 update below)
  • Amazon Prime Reload, which pays a 2% bonus for cash deposits into Amazon Pay
  • Amazon.com Corporate Credit Line: A way for businesses to pay for Amazon purchases via monthly consolidated billing, underwritten by Synchrony Bank
  • Amazon Lending: Which has originated $3B to smaller merchants since 2011 (cited by Bloomberg, sourced to CB Insights)
  • Credit Card Marketplace: Hadn’t seen that before, includes Amazon co-branded cards along with Discover and American Express
  • Gift Card marketplace: Hundreds of prepaid gift cards from other retailers along with restaurants, travel, and entertainment providers
  • Amazon Currency Converter: For purchasing on Amazon.com in local currency
  • Amazon Allowance: Tool for parents to enable their kids to pay directly (link was broken so not sure the status)
  • Shop with Points: A number of major banking rewards programs can shop directly at Amazon with their bank-provided points including Citibank, American Express, Chase and Discover
  • Alexa: Supports banking and payments info (aka skills) from a number of financial institutions including Capital One, US Bank, and American Express

The only major retail banking service missing, a stand-alone debit card (although you can already link a debit card to your Amazon account). Which I’m guessing is the core of the RFP mentioned by the Wall Street Journal.

Update (13 Mar 2018): Bloomberg reports that Amazon is planning on launching a small business co-branded card with Chase, the issuer of Amazon’s consumer card.

Bottom line: Amazon is already deeply involved in banking and payments, as are most major retailers. Gift cards, co-branded credit cards, and SMB credit products are already being used by millions of consumers. Adding a debit card and/or “hybrid checking account” isn’t going to make them any more menacing as a competitor. The prime concern for banks is whether Amazon can move payment volume from bank-issued credit cards, where the industry enjoys healthy profit margins, to debit/ACH with narrow-to-non-existent margins.

Author: Jim Bruene (@netbanker) is Founder & Advisor at Finovate as well as Principal of BUX Certified, a financial services user-experience accreditation program. 


JP Morgan Chase’s Startup Portfolio with CFSi

JP Morgan Chase is more than halfway through its 5-year $30 million commitment to startup innovation in its partnership with CFSi’s FinLab. Each of the past three years, fintech startups have been invited to apply to the accelerator which is focused on finding financial solutions for low- and moderate-income consumers (for example, this year’s challenge).

So far, CFSi/Chase have invested $250,000 each in 24 for-profit companies for a total of $6.0 million (notes 1, 2). In addition, they’ve made two grants totalling $500,000  The investments (note 3) were made in June 2015, June 2016, and this month, so it’s too early to see how well the venture is at picking winners (official rules here).

We do know that two of last year’s class are already out of business, Bee and Remedy, a surprising result for companies winning a quarter-million investment from the third largest bank in the world just 12 months ago. On the other hand, the class of 2015 already has six early winners from the 9 investments (below), so things look good overall:

  • Digit, the impulse savings app which has raised $36.5 million
  • LendStreet, a marketplace-lending platform which has raised $28.25 million
  • Ascend, the loan management service, which has raised $12.75 million
  • Even, the income smoothing service, which has raised $12.25 million
  • SupportPay, the child-support management app, which has raised $7.1 million
  • Propel, the food-stamp support app, which has raised $5.4 million

Since the average investment is just 12 month’s old, it’s too early to judge CFSi/Chase’s seed-stage investing prowess. And that isn’t even the primary goal of the joint program with CFSI. But it’s always nice to turn a profit while doing good. Based on the excellent performance of its first class, we estimate that the venture is already sitting on a paper gain in excess of $1.5 million (note 3) across the 21 for-profit companies still in business, a 50% total gain on an average of $3 million invested. And they may have had some return of capital with the acquisition of Prism by PayNearMe.


Total Return (2015 to 2017)

Total invested: $6.0 million in 24 companies (note 2)

Total grants: $500,000 in 2 non-profits (note 3)

Total returned: 1 exit, unknown valuation

Total market value: $7.5 million+ (note 4)

Paper gain: $1.5 million+ (50% total gain on average of $3 million invested from July 2015 to date)


Results by cohort:

2017 Investments

Total invested: $2.0 million

Total market value: $2.0 million

Paper gain/loss: $0

Blueprint Income: Creating the future pension – a simple, pre-determined income stream backed by insurance companies.

Total funding: $250,000

DavePredicts your “7-day low” checking account balance and offers advances on your paycheck at 0% interest to help prevent overdraft.

Total funding: $3.25 million

EverSafeMonitors seniors’ bank and investment accounts, credit cards and credit reports — serving as an extra set of eyes to detect fraud, scams, and identity theft.

Total funding: $250,000 (Finovate alum)

Grove: Personalized, comprehensive financial advice that is accessible and affordable.

Total funding: $250,000

Nova: World’s first cross-border credit reporting agency by building data partnerships across the globe.

Total funding: $250,000

Point: Home-equity platform giving homeowners cash today for a share of their home’s future appreciation.

Total funding: $250,000

Token TransitMobile app to quickly and easily pay for public transportation.

Total funding: $250,000

Tomorrow: Providing long-term financial security to busy millennials and working families.

Total funding: $2.85 million


2016 Investments

Total $ invested: $2.0 million + $250,000 non-profit grant

Total $ returned: 2 startups shut down, assume $0 return to investors

Total market value: $1.5 million

Paper gain/loss: ($500,000)

Albert: Mobile app that improves financial health with practical, actionable financial recommendations.

Total funding: $2.85 million

Value to Chase/CFSi: $250,000+

Bee: Mobile banking alternative to the under/un-banked (In process of shutting down)

Total funding: $4.85 million

Value to Chase/CFSi = $0

Earn: Non-profit leveraging technology to solve America’s savings crisis.

Total funding: $250,000

Value to Chase/CFSi: $0 (non-profit grant)

EarnUp: Platform that intelligently automates loan payments and identifies earning opportunities for the 200 million indebted Americans.

Total funding: $3.25 million

Value to Chase/CFSi: $250,000+

CreditHero: eCreditHero helps consumers fix their credit report errors for free.

Total funding: $250,000

Value to Chase/CFSi: TBD

Everlance: App for freelancers to automatically track their business miles and expenses.

Total funding: $250,000

Value to Chase/CFSi: TBD

RemedyProtects people from medical bill errors and overcharges, saving the average family over $1,000 per year (shut down 14 July 2017)

Total funding: $2.15 million

Value to Chase/CFSi: $0

ScratchModern-day loan servicer that delivers a borrower-first experience.

Total funding: $250,000

Value to Chase/CFSi: TBD

WiseBanyan: Free financial advisor.

Total funding: $250,000 (Finovate alum)

Value to Chase/CFSi: TBD


2015 Investments

Total invested: $2.0 million + $250,000 non-profit grant

Total returned: 1 exit, unknown valuation

Total market value: $4 million+

Paper gain: $2 million

AscendReduces risk on current loans and rewards the borrower by lowering interest payments for positive financial behaviors.

Total funding: $12.75 million

Value to Chase/CFSi: $500,000+

DigitAutomated savings tool that identifies small amounts of money that can be moved from checking into savings based on spending habits.

Total funding: $36.5 million

Value to Chase/CFSi: $1 million+

EvenTurns the inconsistent income of hourly and part-time workers into a steady salary.

Total funding: $12.25 million

Value to Chase/CFSi: $500,000+

LendStreetMarketplace-lending platform that helps borrowers reduce their debt and rebuild their credit.

Total funding: $28.25 million

Value to Chase/CFSi: $1 million+

PayGoalNon-profit workplace tool that enables financially underserved workers to improve their financial health.

Total funding: $250,000

Value to Chase/CFSi: $0 (non-profit grant)

PrismComprehensive bill payment and management app that helps people better manage their personal finances. In early 2016, Prism was acquired by fintech company PayNearMe.

Total funding: $3.8 million

Value to Chase/CFSi: Exited at unknown price

PropelSimplifies the food stamp application process by streamlining the initial enrollment form.

Total funding: $5.4 million

Value to Chase/CFSi: $500,000+

PuddleReduces risk on current loans and rewards the borrower by lowering interest payments for positive financial behaviors.

Total funding: $250,000

Value to Chase/CFSi: TBD

SupportPayAutomated payment platform that enables parents to share child expenses and exchange child support.

Total funding: $7.1 million

Value to Chase/CFSi: $500,000+


Author: Jim Bruene is Founder & Senior Advisor to Finovate as well as Principal of BUX Advisors, a financial services user-experience consultancy. 


  1. We only know that Chase is a “founding partner” in the $30 million effort. We don’t know if Chase is the sole investor, or merely the lead. And we don’t know what happens with any investment gains, whether they go back into CFSi’s balance sheet or accrue to Chase and any other investors involved.
  2. It appears that the companies are each offered a $250,000 convertible note. But we don’t know the overall terms, how many companies accept the financing, or if they are all $250,000. For the sake of this post, we are assuming everyone takes the full $250,000. We also don’t know if Chase is earmarking part of the $30 million commitment for add-on investments. So far, there are no public record of add-on investments in the 26 companies.
  3. Non-profits receive restricted grants of $250,000.
  4. Since none of the companies have revealed valuations in their subsequent financings, to value Chase’s stake, we are assuming a 2x valuation on A-rounds and a 4x valuation on B-rounds.

Bank-Distributed Content You Might Actually Use from Umpqua, Arvest

Content_marketing_2Discussing bank and credit union blogs seems so last decade. While the hype has certainly died, so-called content marketing is still an effective strategy if done right (remember, less is more).

Just look at Chase Bank’s site, which went through its last major remodel less than a year ago. Once you scroll down the page (below the fold on most laptops), it’s almost entirely general personal-finance content. The section called News & Stories shows 9 to 12 articles initially, or 40 if you click on “more” at the bottom. They run the gamut of what you might see around the Web with catchy titles such “5 Food Trends to Watch in 2016” or “Three Perfect Days in the Greek Isles.”


Chase has more data scientists and Ph.D.s at their disposal than NASA, and if the bank chooses to devote more than half its homepage to content marketing, you can bet they are seeing engagement, if not yet a measurable sales lift. (While I thought they went too far, cluttering their homepage, I yield to the data).

However, the problem with most corporate-written “content” (not to pick on Chase) is that most of it – from any large organization that’s not a media company – is almost always super boring. Content-by-committee is just too watered down to be compelling to readers, who see hundreds, if not thousands, of more intriguing links and articles every week in Facebook, Twitter, ESPN, NY Times or the other big media outlets.

The best FI-sponsored content sticks to local subjects that aren’t widely available in large media outlets. There are few financial institutions that have stuck to blogging over the long haul, but one that stands out is Arvest Bank. I’ve subscribed to its blog feed for many years, and I’ve found their content to be continually excellent. I’m not in their geographic footprint, so I don’t personally benefit from their insights. But as an outside observer, I think they provide a good mix of local interest material, personal as well as small biz financial advice, and simple updates on their products or holiday hours.

The four most recent posts show up in a feed on their homepage (lower left below):

Clicking through to an article brings you to their main blog page, which divides the topics into four logical categories: Community News, Arvest News, Business Banking, and Personal Finance (see below):

But blogs and traditional articles are a tough sell, especially to younger customers accustomed to getting info from YouTube, Facebook, SnapChat, and Instagram. That’s why I love the podcasts from Umpqua Bank. They have outsourced the work to a pro SuChin Pak, who interviews interesting people about money subjects (six episodes are archived on Soundcloud). The bank features the podcasts on their homepage (see main image below). The bank also posts some traditional press release news items near the bottom of the homepage (see below):

I can’t write about content market without a shout-out to Tim McAlpine and the team at Currency Marketing who do some of the best work on the planet, for example, the Young & Free campaign aimed at 25-and-unders and its newest effort, That Money Thing.

Top-right image licensed from 123rf.com

Design: Mixed Verdict as Chase Bank Mimics Mobile Look on New Desktop UI


Chase unveiled a new homepage (on right above), the second in the past three years. While the first (on left above), unveiled in Oct 2012, was a massive rebuild, the latest is a more of a large remodel. I was not a huge fan of the 2012 version, so I’m glad to see the improvement, especially the downsizing of the page-dominating log-in area.

The first impression is good and the overall look and feel supports the Chase brand. But I think other homepages (e.g., Umpqua Bank, Verity Credit Union or even Capital One) do a better job showcasing banking products as opposed to “lifestyle” content that Chase seems enamored with (see #5 below). However, website design is much more than the homepage, and Chase’s previous design is a top performer in Change Sciences overall 2014 website usability and conversion ratings. So clearly Chase knows how to convert their massive website traffic. I’m sure they will be closely following the metrics after the change and will tweak any under-performing areas.

Chase’s press release provides a handy outline to lay out a few thoughts on its website. (And I apologize in advance to the Chase team for a bit of snark sneaking through; press releases have a way of doing that to a person.)

So here are the five points taken verbatim from the press release along with our comments:

1. Feel at home: Localized images personalize the site for returning visitors.

My take: This is a great feature brought over from Chase’s mobile app. Customized images are a nice and a relatively easy way to localize—still important in a country with 10,000 banks and credit unions, 99% of which are locally oriented. However, Chase’s implementation is a bit jarring. The eight images dizzily zoom right-to-left every 7 seconds and never stop. Luckily, they don’t begin until after you’ve been on page for 20+ seconds, so you can log in before the show begins.

2. Take a scroll: As with any newsfeed, customers can scroll down the homepage and have access to relevant content.

My take: Take a scroll is a clever bit of wordsmithing, but it’s a bit unusual to claim it as a benefit. That said, I do like the comparison to a newsfeed, a more modern concept generally not associated with banks.

3. Navigate with ease: The easy-access menu stays clearly in sight as customers scroll down the homepage.

My take: Chase’s fixed navigation is a UI feature that’s important on longer pages. But is it smart to mimic the mobile UI so closely? A universal complaint about mobile websites is their inconsistent navigation compared to desktop websites where nav has become well standardized. Yes, the design looks cooler, like a ginormous iPhone screen, but does the aesthetic win come at the expense of usability? With those jumbo images flashing by every 7 seconds, you do not want to linger. There is also inconsistent navigation: The homepage uses the mobile approach while the inner pages have the older navigation—do we assume that’s temporary?

4. See the choices: Customers can find which checking accounts, credit cards or mortgages best fit their lifestyle.

My take: Chase claims: “Customers can find which checking accounts, credit cards or mortgages best fit their lifestyle.” I’m pretty sure real people don’t think about their bank accounts that way, but what I believe the bank is saying here is that exposing readers to products within the “news and stories” section (see below) will lead to more sales. I have my doubts, and Chase can alter this quickly if the metrics aren’t supporting the tactic.

5. Learn from both experts and customers: News and Stories’ timely advice and insights move to a more prominent place.

My take: Big brands have been toying with “content marketing” off and on for 20 years. I understand the bank’s desire to market this way, but with so many other credible sources of personal finance info, you just end up looking amateurish compared with the NY Times, CNN Money, not too mention the hundreds of personal finance blogs. And even if you pay Pulitzer prize-winning journalists to write original content, you cannot avoid the fact that the article is POSTED TO A BANK SITE. My advice, stick to facts, tutorials, and links to third-party resources.

Gift Card Season Off to the Races: Square Places New Bet, Starbucks Goes All-In, Banks Stuck at Starting Gate


image This week, digital poster child Square jumped into the plastic gift card market. Unlike many of its new endeavors, old-school cards were met with a decided lack of enthusiasm in the tech press (and my Twitter feed). Many recalled the company’s failed efforts with virtual gift cards (which I liked then, and still do). Most people in the tech press (and even more so in my Twitter feed) want their iPhone to handle all transactions, loyalty points, and payments. But that’s not quite how the world works yet. Even Starbucks, claiming 90% of all U.S. mobile payments (pre Apple Pay of course), just launched a major holiday plastic initiative (see below).


How Square Gift Cards Work

The Square offering is compelling for its core small business clients. The cards are drop-dead simple. Merchants order from their Square dashboard which is powered by eCardSystems. Cards cost $1.50 per card with a minimum order of 125 and are shipped in 3 business days. Merchants load by swiping through Square’s POS dongle or Register, and users are good to go. The merchant receives the entire load amount immediately (less Square’s 2.9% cut).

The cards are heavily merchant branded. The merchant’s name is printed on the front in a choice of fonts and colors and the merchant’s contact info is printed on the back. The card design can be one of 20 generic designs (see screenshot) or can be customized with any image uploaded by merchant (cost is the same, but minimum quantity rises to 500, and turnaround time is 15 business days, so almost too late for the 2014 holiday season). The only Square branding is a small logo, seen back-of-card, lower right (see top of post).

The cards are reloadable, so they can be used as a loyalty platform, with rewards based on load amount. For example, my favorite coffee shop adds an extra 10% of value for each load.


 Starbucks Unveils In-Store “Card Collection”

imageOne of the the Starbucks flagship stores is in my neighborhood, so we occasionally see merchandise being tested. So, I’m not sure if this over-the-top gift card display is in wide use (see its Nov 12 press release). But the Seattle U-Village main Starbucks has two of these massive display cases near the queue (the back side has the usual holiday beans and merchandise). Apparently, there are more than 100 different designs.

It’s no surprise. Last year, the company reported that $1.4 billion was loaded onto cards during 4th quarter and an astonishing 1 out of every 8 U.S. adults received a Starbucks card. It looks like they are going for 1 in 7 this year.


Bank Opportunities

I’ve been following bank efforts in gift cards for 10 years and have found little exciting to report (see archives). While a few bursts of activity have occurred at holiday times the last few years (previous posts), banks seem content to let their customers pick up cards at Safeway. Even Chase, which has a great card that my son uses, and was the highest-rated big-bank card in Consumer Reports (Aug 2013, Prepaid Buying Guide), has zero merchandising for “gift cards” on its website (see third screenshot below). 

Few banks are going to emulate Square’s approach and build gift cards for acquiring clients. But I do see an opportunity to develop a retail gift card marketplace offering both plastic and virtual cards with distribution via online, mobile, in-branch and even ATM. It’s on my short list of ways FIs could turn a buck from their presence (see post).


#1: First step in ordering plastic gift cards from Square’s merchant dashboard


#2 Choose your card design (or upload your own image)



#3 Searching for “gift card” at Chase Bank


Why (Most) Banks Need Not Worry About Apple Pay (Yet)

image I’ll admit to being caught up in the hype. The 48 hours after Tim Cook revealed Apple’s long-rumored foray into payments were some of the most exciting times in fintech since the 1995 to 1997 period when most of the online “firsts” happened (see note 1).

And we’re seeing more thoughtful fintech posts in the past week than we used to see in an entire year. Thanks especially to Tom Noyes, Cherian Abraham, Brian Roemmele, Celent’s Zilvinas Bareisis and finally today from Gonzo’s Steve Williams for helping me see beyond the hype.

I can add little that hasn’t already been said to the discussion about NFC, payment ecosystems, or the future of mobile payments. Clearly, it marks a turning point for mobile payments and improved U.S. security, and the play-out will be fun to watch.

The one area I haven’t seen covered: What does all this mean for the 10,000 U.S. banks and credit unions not on the 11-name list at launch (note 2)?

So here’s my take on the impact of Apple Pay on small- and medium-sized FIs over various time horizons: 

In the short term (2014): ZERO

In the medium term (2015-2016): ZERO

In the long run (2017+): Something, but impossible to quantify at this point
                                     (it could even be net positive)

Here’s why bank/CU execs (outside the top-20 credit-card issuers) should not lose sleep over what Apple is doing:

1. Apple Pay (in the physical world) can be used only at contactless terminals
Supposedly, there are 220,000 contactless terminals in the United States. But if you’ve ever tried to use one, you know that 200,000 of them are either not working or are buried behind beef jerky on the counter. This will change rapidly as merchants upgrade during the next few years.

2. It’s complicated to use (at first)
First, you need an iPhone 6, then you need to figure out how to use Apple’s Passbook program, log in to iTunes or take a picture of your card, successfully authorize it, enable TouchID and so on. Millions of early adopters will figure all that out, but then they won’t be able to find a working contactless terminal (see #1) and then they’ll forget all about it.

3. The number of your customers that care enough to move deposit accounts for NFC payments is near zero (for now)
Let’s do the math. Assume that a year from now there are 5 million Apple Pay active users (making at least one transaction per week) or 2.5% of U.S adults. If you have 20,000 customers, that means 500 will be active users of Apple Pay. Most will be happy to use their existing Capital One, Citi, and other rewards credit cards for the transactions. Very few will care that your debit card doesn’t work on the system. Let’s say it’s around 25%. That means you have something like 125 customers who are disappointed with your mobile payment capabilities. If they like you otherwise, how many will move their checking account to get an Apple Pay-enabled version? While the number is probably zero, let’s say it’s 5% to 10%. That means you could lose 6 to 12 customers. Using the 80/20 rule, only one or two of them are profitable. Will it hurt to lose two profitable customers? Sure, but it’s not going to be on your top-10 or top-25 list of worries.   

4. There are ways to mitigate any lost wallet share to Apple-Pay issuers
Even if my math in #3 is way off, or you are concerned that you will take a material hit to the bottom line, or you just want to be part of Apple Pay, easy routes will undoubtably be built to get your cards enabled into Apple Pay. Maybe not in 2014 (or even 2015), but certainly within the next couple years. And even if I’m wrong and you are locked out of the iPhone indefinitely, you can create an Apple Pay poaching program where your customers make their charges on a bigco bank card, then you automatically pay those charges off and essentially transfer them to your customer’s checking account.

So my final advice. If you have an employer (or spouse) that’s been reluctant to fund your iThings, now is the perfect time to do an upgrade (just don’t show them this post).


Chase homepage shown to existing customers (15 Sep 2014)
Note: All three links on bottom of page go to the iPhone6 “Apple Pay” features page at Apple.com which leads with Chase (link)



1. Or perhaps 1999 when Paypal/X.com made P2P payments happen or even 2005/2006 when Zopa/Prosper/LendingClub launched consumer credit exchanges.
2. See Apple Pay launch event clip here, complete with transcript.

UI: Chase Bank Remodels the All-Important "Account Summary Alert"

image Here at Netbanker/OBR, we love to write about the digital future. But we know it’s even more important to address the digital now. If you don’t leverage current technology to your advantage, the future doesn’t much matter, since someone else will be running your business.

Today’s topic, one that we used to harp on constantly, is alerts (see previous “Alerts” posts).  Alerts are the way you maintain the relationship with customers between logins. But too many banks and credit unions take email alerts for granted, and are still using a template from 2004! Those templates were created prior to webmail, and, more importantly, before mobile viewership skyrocketed.

One bank whose messaging template was too long in the tooth is Chase (it’s looked the same since at least 2010; see note 1). But as part of their continued digital remodeling, the bank changed it last week. It’s not going to be confused with Simple or Mint, but it communicates the important information efficiently. And that’s enough for most brands. 

The Improvements 


Following are the before-and-after shots on the desktop. As you can see, the old version was too wide for smaller laptops and lower-resolution computers. On my Mac it looked fine, but on my trusty old ThinkPad, it required horizontal scrolling to see the “total withdrawals.”

What changed:

  • All the information is lined up on the left side so it can be easily read on any screen size; this is especially important on mobile which was previously impossible to read (on iPhone) without pinching and zooming.
  • Got rid of the Go Paperless! banner. Talk about banner fatigue. I understand that it’s a great benefit to convert users to paperless, but really, four-plus years with the same banner? MIX IT UP, please!
  • Changed headline to position “Chase” as the first word instead of the last. That helps users scanning subject lines see that it’s from their bank. 
  • Added light blue background at top to give it a better look.
  • Cleaned up the data table for better readability.
  • Made the website URL more visible.
  • Added toll-free contact number.
  • Added more fine print and caveats (the only item that is a step backwards).




Before (viewed through Gmail, 3 May 2014)



After (viewed through Gmail, 12 May 2014)



Mobile (screen captures from iPhone 5)

Before                                                          After

image        image


1. The UI described here is for a Chase checking account in Washington State (converted from WAMU). This email alert template may be different in other regions or for other account types.
2. For more info on alerts and messaging, see our 2010 Online Banking Report (subscription).

12/12/12 Credit Union Promotions

imageLast year, we were disappointed at the lack of promotions on double-triple-digit day, finding just a single promo 11/11/11 promotion (see our post on Notre Dame FCU). But it was Veteran’s Day and most U.S. banks were closed.

This year, 12/12/12 falls at a much better time in the promo calendar, and FI marketers responded, at least on the credit union side. In the first five pages of Google results we found 15 CU promotions, most offering 12-month, $1,200 loans.

However, it turns out that “12/12/12 loans” are regular December fare at a number of credit unions. Only four of the 15 were focused on the once-in-a-hundred-years date, one on the deposit side and three low-rate loan specials (note 1).

The standout deal? A 0.12% APR on a $1,200 loan from L’Oreal USA FCU

Here are the four CU 12/12/12 promos:

  • L’Oreal USA Federal Credit Union: 12-month, $1,200 loan with with APR = 0.12% (requires payroll deduction & estatements; link, screenshot #1)
  • Meadowland Credit Union: 12-month, $1,200 loan with rate as low as 1.2% (direct deposit & checking account required; link, screenshot #2)
  • Notre Dame Federal Credit Union: 120-day loan of $1,212.12 at an APR of 1.1212% (requires opening new credit card; link, screenshot #3)
  • USAlliance FCU: 12-month, 1.2% APY CD (new money only; link, screenshot #4)

Other 12/12/12 loan seemingly unrelated to Dec 12, 2012 (with links to the loan page):

  • Carolina Foothills FCU (link)
  • Clackamas FCU (link)
  • Ecusta Credit Union (link)
  • Freedom FCU (ran during the summer, link)
  • Fremont FCU (link)
  • Gulf Coast Educators FCU (link; see banner at top of post)
  • John Hopkins FCU (link)
  • Northwest Georgia Credit Union (link)
  • Northwest Resource FCU (link)
  • SRP Federal Credit Union (link)
  • Telhio Credit Union (link)

No banks seem to be joining the fun. Although Chase was promoting its sponsorship of the 12/12/12 Sandy benefit concert with an AdWords buy on Google yesterday (screenshot 5). 


1. L’Oreal USA FCU is offering a rate of just 0.12%
Note: Interest totals just $0.78 over the life of the loan, payroll deduction required


2. Meadowland Credit Union worked Aaron Rodger into its promo


3. Notre Dame FCU is the only FI that ran promotions on both 11/11/11 and 12/12/12 promotions
(11 Dec 2012)


4. USAlliance FCU was the only one with a deposit special


Chase Bank is the headline sponsor of a Sandy benefit concert (link)



1. We searched for “12/12/12 promotion credit union” and found many entries. The same search with “bank” instead of “credit union” turned about nothing (at least through the first dozen pages of results).

CafeGive Powers Cause Marketing via Facebook

image The response  to Chase Bank’s Community Giving Facebook campaign has been remarkable (except for a few glitches). It’s one of the top social media successes across all industries (see previous post).

If you are looking to do something similar this holiday season (or more likely in 2013), you may want to outsource the tech to a specialist who can help maximize the power of social networks while keeping you from free from any controversy.

image There are a number of companies that can help you create Facebook apps. For example, we were recently briefed by a newcomer that has been getting some traction recently with a large U.S. bank and several credit unions, CafeGive.

CafeGive-powered financial institution examples:

  • US Bank ran a successful program earlier this year in partnership with the Oregon State Activities Association. In a strategy reminiscent of Chase Community Giving, the bank invited the community to nominate and vote (see inset; case study). Six winning high schools each received $2,500. The bank is expected to run the promotion again in 2013.
  • Patelco Credit Union is using a simple fundraising app they were able to deploy within a few days after Hurricane Sandy hit the Northeast USA (see screenshot 1 – 4). The app includes a progress bar, updated in real-time, showing progress towards the goal.
  • Alaska’s Credit Union 1 is donating $1 per like to the Food Bank of Alaska (see screenshot 5 & 6)

Many marketers have mixed feelings about cause marketing. On the one hand you are bragging about how generous you are while at the same time convincing your CFO that there is a positive ROI. But regardless of your motives, you want to get as much bang for your buck. Outsourcing the plumbing makes a lot of sense for these less-frequent programs.  

Bottom line: It’s win-win. You do the right thing and it improves your brand image and boosts employee morale.


Patelco Credit Union

1. Patelco features its CafeGive-powered donation app on its main Facebook page (link; 29 Nov 2012)

Patelco Credit Union features its CafeGive-powered donation app on its main Facebook page

2. Simple donation page with progress meter
(link; 29 Nov 2012)

Simple donation site with progress meter at Patelco CU

3. Co-branded payment page powered by PayPal

Co-branded CafeGive payment page powered by PayPal  

4. After completing the PayPal process, a thank-you page shows the progress bar updated with the new donation

Thank you page from CafeGive


Credit Union 1

5. Credit Union 1 showcases "like us | give" link on its main Facebook page (link; 29 Nov 2012)


6. CafeGive-powered "like us" promotion pays out $1 per like (link)

CafeGive-powered "like us" promotion at Credit Union 1 pays out $1 per like

1. According to CafeGive Founder Sandra Morris, consumers gravitate towards brands with a conscious. She cites a survey that showed the top-3 reasons millennials gave for using a brand were: a) convenience, b) online services, and c) give back.  
2. See our Online Banking Report "Banking in Facebook" (published Feb. 2012, subscription)