Women in Fintech: What the Industry Can Do to Promote Gender Diversity

As the number of women representing start-ups at FinovateEurope 2018 is at its highest since conception, we gather some of the leading ladies in fintech to discuss how the industry has evolved, what practical steps can be taken to move keep moving forward and why male colleagues and peers need to get involved too.

The panel:

  • Julie Muhn, Senior Research Analyst, Finovate
  • Magdalena Kron, Head of Rise London & VP Open Innovation, Barclays Bank
  • Janice Diner, Founding Partner & CEO, Horizn
  • Benedetta Arese Lucini, Co-Founder, Oval Money

Mobile UX: Barclaycard Adds No-Login Transaction “Peek”

One of my pet peeves is burdensome login procedures on smartphones. There is no rational reason to force cardholders to log in to see basic transaction data (unless they want to). We’ve covered it here, here, and here.

imageBut this is the first time a major U.S. issuer has opened up mobile transactions. Barclaycard’s iPhone app update released today (v. 3.1.4267, see inset), contains the new Peek feature which:

….provides a quick-view of key
account details prior to login 
(selected cardholders only)

It’s not discussed on the Barclaycard (U.S.) website, so I don’t have an action screenshot. And the “selected cardholders only” probably means its not available across all of its 35 different portfolios.

Bottom line: No-login transaction history is a good way to improve customer satisfaction, help move your card top of wallet, and possibly reduce costs from fewer password resets, fraud, and customer calls. I hope we see other major issuers follow suit soon.  

The iPad-Enabled Checkout Experience at the POS

The Hideout Coffee House in Austin

A few week ago I spent the weekend in Austin eating BBQ, watching my alma mater get crushed by the University of Texas, and sampling the Sixth Street ambiance.

But the highlight for me was the The Hideout Coffee House. Not only did it have great coffee and eclectic furnishings, but card customers could pay via Square through an iPad mounted in a novel wood stand (see inset; it’s not possible to see well, but the ipad stand is on the counter at left).

The barista took my card and swiped it through the Square reader, which was supported by a wood guide (see similar unit left from Tinkering Monkey). Then he flipped the case over 180 degrees so it faced out towards me (see below).

Tinkering Monkey iPad holder at the POSI selected one of the large buttons for a preset tip amount and then once more to have the receipt emailed to me (I only had to enter my email the first time).

It was easier to use than most in-lane POS readers, even contactless ones, because the barista actually did the swipe. It eliminated the uncertainty about when I should tap/swipe or whether it worked or what I should do next. And I loved being able to put a tip on the card with the push of a button rather than writing it on a piece of paper or digging for change. 

Tinkering Monkey swivel ipad caseBottom line: Eventually payments will be made via proximity and settled in the cloud (my mobile will know I’m in the store and will automatically pair me to the store’s POS). But there is still a long transition period ahead.

Tablet/smartphone card readers are a great interim step for smaller merchants (note 2), especially with the price wars waging at the point of sale (note 3).

Related: And banks, even though you don’t have the POS issue, you can equip your frontline staff with iPad-powered sales tools (note 4). 


1. On one of the Austin freeways, I also saw a billboard for the ISIS pilot. But I didn’t see any merchants promoting it. 
2. And some bigger ones. And of course, the 20,000-store Gorilla, Starbucks, is partnering with Square, though it is unlikely they’ll use iPads at the point of sale.
3. Bank of America recently jumped into the game matching Square’s 2.7% discount rate.  
4. Barclays just bought 8,500 iPads to equip its branch sales staff (Financial Brand post).

Intuit Uses Real-Time Twitter Feed in Banner Ad on VentureBeat Blog

image Intuit’s TurboTax unit has long pushed the envelope in promoting its brand through social networks. Its Vanilla Ice YouTube promotion two years ago (previous post) is still one of my favorite financial user-generated-content (UGC) promotions.

But UGC promotions take a lot of planning and support, and unless they go viral, they may generate just a few thousand views and little new business (see note 1).

Intuit’s use of a real-time (note 2) Twitter feed in a banner ad (see at VentureBeat, screenshot below) is so much better than a YouTube promo in a number of ways:

  • Much more cost effective: It costs Intuit virtually nothing to post its Twitter stream to VentureBeat (other than the advertising expense). Intuit is already broadcasting on its Twitter channel for other reasons. This is just a repositioning of that content.
  • When Intuit answers a question within its stream (@ replies), it creates moderated “user-generated micro-content.” The newness of the content creates more interest and attention than a static banner ad.
  • The company jumps on the Twitter-bandwagon, a good way to generate press mentions.

Bottom line: This approach works only if you are creating an interesting stream of Tweets. TurboTax, during the early-April tax return mania, is a great example. Other financial companies can mimic the approach, and you’ll probably want to run a contest or do something innovative to keep your Tweets lively. 

VentureBeat home page (9 April 2009)


Landing page at Intuit’s TurboTax Twitter page @turbotax
(link, 9 April 2009)


1. But if you have a huge budget, the payoff can be great. According to Jeffry Pilcher’s Financial Brand post today, Barclaycard’s Waterslide promo, referenced on the UK homepage, generated more than a million views on YouTube. Barclay’s TV ad is here, the YouTube page is here and the Web-based game, here.

2. It’s a “speeded-up” real-time feed. The banner ad cycles through the five most-recent Tweets (all of which were posted yesterday). Each one is on-screen for several seconds, making it look like there is much activity. 

How Can Online Banking Develop its Own Black Card?

image Yesterday, I looked at a list of free services likely to come under pressure as banks work on the Herculean task of returning to normal profitability. One area that’s likely to remain free for the foreseeable future is online and mobile banking, at least the core account-access portion of it.

But we continue to believe that financial institutions are missing a revenue opportunity to provide premium fee-based services to certain segments.

imageIf American Express can command $2500 per year for its black Centurion Card and Barclays $495 per year (see note 1) for its slightly more pedestrian Black Card launched in December (see note 2), why can’t banks get $10/mo for a similar premium version of online and mobile banking? The short answer: They haven’t tried.

Just for the sake of discussion, here’s a “gold online banking” service for which I’d pay $15 per month without a moment’s hesitation:

  • High-end website and iPhone app
  • Long-term (7+ years) online storage of images, transactions, statements
  • On-demand credit score like Credit Karma 
  • Credit bureau alerts when negative items hit
  • Account aggregation with weekly summaries like Mint
  • Email customer service with 30-minute or less turnaround time
  • VIP phone and tech support with no phone tree
  • No overdraft/NSF charges (within limits of course)
  • Travel rewards/sweepstakes on electronic transactions
  • Pre-filled one-click credit application
  • Extra security options
  • SMS balance inquiry
  • Iron-clad, no-fine-print security guarantee with 100% immediate reimbursement and emergency credit line

For more elaboration on these benefits, see our Online Banking Report on Pricing Online Services.

Visa Black Card homepage (15 Feb. 2009)
Includes one-page online application


1. The benefits of the Visa Black Card are similar to those from many gold/platinum cards. One of the biggest differentiators is free limited membership to Priority Pass which gets cardholders into 500 airport lounges in 250 cities. However, according to the FAQs, Black Card holders are limited to two complimentary visits per year, so this would cost $154 annually if purchased directly from Priority Pass. In fact, for $349 annually, you could get unlimited access to airport lounges. 
2. The Visa Black Card has been advertised with full-page ads in the New York Times, the latest on 10 Feb. 2009 on p. A5 (national edition).

Innovators in Small Business Online Delivery

Innovators in small business online delivery


Table 55

Watchfire/Gomez Small Business Scorecard



Dec ‘03

Number Sm. Biz Clients

1 (tie) Bank of America


2.5 mil1

1 (tie) National City



3 (tie) Key



3 (tie) Wells Fargo


1.3 mil2

5 (tie) Chase



5 (tie) Fleet



5 (tie) Wachovia



8 Bank One



9 (tie) HSBC America



9 (tie) U.S. Bank



Source: Watchfire, 6/04 <gomezpro.watchfire.com>
Other banks evaluated, but not making the top 10: Bank of New
York, BB&T, Citibank, Citizens Bank, Comerica, Fifth Third Bank
(150,000 clients), LaSalle, PNC Bank (200,000 clients),
SunTrust, UBOC, Washington Mutual (250,000 clients)
1American Banker, May 18, 2004, BofA total includes
2American Banker, Oct. 1, 2003

Our first report on small business banking was produced in the fall of 1997
(OBR 29).
At that time, few banks were specifically targeting small businesses. Then,
a Yahoo search for “small business” and “banking” yielded only 19
results compared to 2.5 million today. In the late 1990s, most banks were
still busy building out their consumer interfaces. Even as recently as 2001
(OBR 70/71), we found few major innovations to report on. Our
favorite small business banking service was OneCore
 which was
shuttered shortly thereafter, at least as a direct provider.  

Today much has changed. Everywhere you look, banks are innovating to
serve the small business market more effectively. According to
GomezPro unit the best small business banking sites
are Bank of America and National City, tied for first place in
its year-end 2003 scorecard (see Table 55, right). 

Other online innovators in the small business market:

  •          Barclays Bank (London; $800 billion) uses its
    website to target startup businesses with a broad array of support
    services that many startups would find essential, including a free
    business checking account for the first year. It’s so impressive, we’ve
    given it our second Best of the Web award this year
    (see next page).
  •          PNC Bank (Pittsburgh, PA; $70 billion) and
    have both announced plans to offer remote check deposits,
    something most U.S. banks will support within a few years. One of the
    last reasons to visit the branch will be eliminated when clients can
    feed paper checks into a scanner instantly depositing the cash into
    their account and storing the image into their online banking archive

    This service is a shoo-in for an OBR Best of the Web once it goes
  •          NetBank (Alpharetta, GA; $4.1 billion) which
    launched a new small business initiative a year ago, has attracted 1,600
    businesses with $38 million in deposits ($24,000 average deposit). If it
    keeps to the announced third-quarter launch, NetBank may be the first
    bank to offer remote paper check scanning



Barclays provides valuable services for startups

Why do the U.K. banks do a better job serving small businesses online
compared to their U.S. counterparts?1 Perhaps U.S. banks are
underestimating the value of services targeted directly to small business
owners. Or maybe they’ve found it too difficult because business owners
won’t bother switching bank accounts to save a few bucks a month. That’s why
it makes so much sense for Barclays Bank to focus on startups
at its business website <business.barclays.co.uk>. After all, if you
succeed in being a startup’s first bank, you have the inside track to retain
its business over time.

Barclays business homepage (see below) is dominated by a shaded
area asking the important question, Starting a business? Even though
the vast majority of visitors already have a business and a banking
relationship with Barclays, those most likely shopping for services are
startups. The bank also offers Pain relief in a box, a proprietary
business management and accounting program targeted for tiny businesses or
startups that haven’t settled on an accounting software system.

1Two out of three of our Best of Web winners for small
businesses are headquartered in the U.K.


Barclays’ small business Starter Accounts consist of the following
features and benefits:

  •          Current account (checking) with an overdraft facility; free
    for the first 12 months, 18 if you also maintain personal accounts at
  •          Savings account
  •          Loans, subject to credit approval of course
  •          Insurance
  •          45-minute free consultation with a business/marketing
  •          45-minute free consultation with an accountant
  •          30-minute free consultation with an attorney



NetBank and PNC to offer remote deposits

According to recent press reports, both NetBank (American Banker,
May 20) with 1,600 small business clients and PNC Bank (Wall Street
, June 8) with 200,000, will launch remote deposit service for their
business customers. Although details of the yet-to-be-launched services are
sketchy, it is expected that business customers will be able to scan paper
checks into a remote device that transmits images to the bank for immediate
deposit. PNC estimates the scanners will rent for $15 to $25 per month. No word
on pricing from NetBank. The NetBank service is expected in late third quarter
and PNC expects to roll-out by yearend. Alogent
 is the
technology provider for NetBank.

Benefits for small business owners:

1.   Saves time/money: Frees business owners from the daily/weekly
trek to the branch, something 80% of online self-employed households reported
doing during the past 30 days according to Javelin Strategy

2.   Improves cash flow: Checks can be deposited immediately rather
than collecting dust waiting for the owner’s next trip to the branch

3.   Streamlines record keeping:

i.    the original check can be filed as a paper receipt if desired

ii.   a back-up electronic image is stored at the bank if questions arrive

4.   Improves customer service: Check images can be quickly retrieved
and emailed if
a dispute arises

5.   Saves storage space/cost: Paper checks can be destroyed much
sooner, eliminating storage and security issues

6.   Improves management control: Owners can spot-check deposit
activity by looking at actual check images, rather than staff-entered accounting

Speaking as both as a small business owner and an industry analyst, this is a
great service and a strong candidate for a Best of the Web award once it
becomes operational.


Barclays Small Business Banking

Q. When is a business most likely to open a new bank account?
A. When they are first starting out.
Recognizing that the best time to get their foot in the door at a business is before the doors even open, Barclays Bank (UK), addresses the issue front and center on its small business banking home page Barclays Small Business Banking : Small Business.
The company offers a number of startup service including complimentary consultations with business advisors and fee-free checking accounts (18 months if you also bank personally at Barclays, 12 months otherwise).