2015 Holiday Marketing Efforts from the Top-20 U.S. Banks

The end of the year provides a unique challenge to banks. Customers are busy buying gifts, finishing year-end projects at work, and preparing for holiday travel, meal prep and/or extended family time. There isn’t an abundance of deep thought about long-term financial plans, other than how to pay down inflated December credit card bills.

For banks, it’s a good time to run a few simple messages:

  1. Thank customers for a great year
  2. Wish them happy holidays and/or a wonderful new year
  3. Help customers deal with holiday overspending and planning for the new year
  4. Provide last-minute gift assistance via prepaid MasterCard/Visa cards
  5. Detail holiday branch hours and service options (extra credit for an online/mobile banking plug)

This is not a tall order, yet only 9 of the 20 largest banks managed to do even 1 of the above 5 during the week leading up to Christmas. While that may not seem like a great performance, it was more than double the measly four last year. And it’s back in line with historical norms of 9 banks 2013; 8 in 2012; and 10 in 2011. It looks like 2014 was an anomaly.

Congrats to PNC Bank, which once again, proved it was the holiday champ thanks to its long-running 12 Days of Christmas Index, earning a full 5 bulbs on our 1-to-5 light bulb scale. Runner-up Key Bank moved up to an impressive 4-bulb performance with four holiday promos. And we had three 3-bulbers (Fifth Third, BMO Harris, Union Bank) who posted impressive holiday graphics.

The scrooge list: Top-20 banks with no holiday promotions or graphics on 23 Dec 2015:
Bank of America; Bank of the West (BNP Paribas); BB&T; Capital One & Capital One 360 (formerly ING Direct); Chase (note 2); Citizens (RBS); HSBC; SunTrust; US Bank; Wells Fargo; Zions Bank.

Following is a quick overview of the promotions, including a 1- to 5-bulb rating.

Previous year-end holiday posts: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 (big banks), 2011(CUs/community banks), 2009 part 1, 2009 part 2, 2007, 2006, 2006, 2004.


Large U.S. banks show holiday spirit

PNC Bank

Score: imageimageimageimageimage

Homepage (23 Dec 2015):

PNC Christmas Price Index page:



Key Bank

  • Checking account promo with holiday imagery (1 of 3 rotating promos)
  • Security tips related to holiday spending (2 of 3 rotating promos)
  • Rewards promo with holiday image (lower left on homepage)
  • Credit card promo with holiday copy (lower right on homepage)

Score: imageimageimageimage

Homepage promo #1 (23 Dec 2015):

Homepage promo #2:



Fifth Third Bank

  • Page-dominating “wishes”

Score: imageimageimage

Homepage (23 Dec 2015):



BMO Harris

  • Community service announcing a Milwaukee holiday display (#2 of 3 rotating promos)
  • Security message related to holidays and its new chip card (#3 of 3 rotating promos)

Score: imageimageimage

Homepage promo #1 (23 Dec 2015):


Homepage promo #2:



Union Bank

  • Rose Bowl parade float (#1 of 4 promos)
  • Billpay offer with charity tie-in (#2 of 4 promos)

Score: imageimageimage

Homepage promo #1 (23 Dec 2015):unionbank_holiday2015
Homepage promo #2:unionbank_holiday2015_2



  • Gift card promo integrated into main image (promo 2 of 3 rotating)

Score: imageimageimage (2.5)

Homepage (23 Dec 2015):



Regions Bank

  • Loan discount with holiday copy (well below the fold)

Score: imageimage

Homepage with loan offer (23 Dec 2015):

Landing page for loan offer:



TD Bank

  • Checking account promo with holiday imagery and Samsung giveaway (main promo)

Score: imageimage

Homepage with checking promo (23 Dec 2015):




  • Year-end home-equity promo with winter imagery

Score: image




1. Observations taken between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. Eastern Time on Wed, 23 Dec 2015, from a Florida IP address, running Mac Chrome browser with cookies cleared.
2. Chase is running a series of newish articles/posts below the fold, one of which covered holiday budgeting. But it wasn’t prominent enough to move them off the scrooge list.
3. Animation from

Mobile: Citibank Remains Committed to No Login with Newest “Lite” iPhone App

citibank_lite_app_frontFlipping through the top-100 iPhone apps in the Finance category, I noticed Citibank’s new Lite version at #90. It has been ranked as high as #31 in the past month (see chart below). In comparison, the core Citi Mobile app is ranked #14.

The app was released 29 March 2015 to support the Apple Watch app. But it’s more than just a watch app. It can be used by anyone who wants a simple, always-logged-in way to track banking and credit card transactions (see inset).

The app includes current balance and last 15 transactions (5 on Apple Watch) for checking, savings and credit cards. Users log in once, then the app stays logged in indefinitely. There is no transactional functions in the app, so the security risk is almost non-existent. This may appeal to certain security-conscious customers still wary of mobile transactions. Customers can log off at any time to protect their privacy.

The bank provides the same benefit with the Snapshot feature in its full-featured mobile app. So, Citi Mobile Lite may be a temporary workaround until the bank integrates Apple Watch support into its main app. But the bank may find a strong core audience for a nontransactional app and keep it around for many years.

The Lite app is not currently listed in the bank’s mobile banking section. The only way to find out about it is through the bank’s site search or through Apple’s App Store. Here’s the landing page found via a search for “Apple Watch” (see screenshot below).

Citibank now offers a suite of seven separate apps to U.S. customers: Citi Mobile, Citi Mobile Lite, Cit Private Bank in View, Citi News, Citi Velocity, CitiFX Pulse, Citi on Campus. Additionally, local Citi Mobile versions can be found across at least 18 other countries.


Citi Mobile Lite ranking in Finance category of Apple App Store (U.S.)


Source: AppShopper, 27 May 2015


Citibank desktop landing page



Apple Touches Off First Wave of Mobile Banking Biometrics

image We’ve known this day was coming ever since Apple acquired AuthenTec two years ago for $350 million. That was real money back in the pre-Beats/Nest/Oculus days.

Monday, Apple made it official at its annual developers’ conference: The fingerprint authentication system built into the iPhone 5S (Touch ID) will open to outside developers in the next iOS update (v8.0 expected in mid-September). That means that app publishers, including banks, credit unions & wallet providers, will be able to use it to provide initial authorization into a secure app. 

image The new feature was demonstrated on stage by logging in to Mint (see inset, screen cap tweeted by Bradley Leimer Monday). In the demo, Mint users are prompted to use the touchpad to open the app (the small type says, “Please authenticate in order to proceed”). Users are also given a password option.

Most likely, banks will use Touch ID, as well as other handset-resident biometric systems (note 1) to deliver “read-only” access to data. It’s an approach that’s been catching on around the world even before Apple’s biometric wizardry. Citibank is the most recent to provide a no-login glimpse in its mobile app (called SnapShot), rolling it out nationwide two weeks ago (press release). It’s also used at Westpac (NZ), Commonwealth (AU), Bank of the West, City Bank of Texas and many more (note 2).

For anything transactional, such as a wire transfer, banks will likely require additional authentication (see our Nine Circles of Security).

And of course, these security changes will generally need to be optional for customers until they become commonly accepted practices. Most users are still extremely wary of security on mobile phones, even though it is a marked improvement over the desktop (note 3).

While it’s too early to know if any financial institutions will have it enabled by September, one fintech payment provider, CardFlight, wasted no time, announcing support for Touch ID just a few hours after the Apple keynote (note 4).


1. Celent’s Jacob Jegher showed me his facial recognition login on his Android phone (Samsung?) at last month’s FinovateSpring. Very cool, though he doesn’t have it enabled since it slows up the login process just slightly.
2. Malauzai Software powers more than 90 credit unions and banks alone (post).
3. See our latest report on Mobile Security (March 2014, subscription) for more info.
4. Cardflight will be showing off its latest tools at our first developer event, FinDEVr, 30 Sep 2014, in San Francisco. 

Holiday Website Promos at the Top-20 Banks

In my annual look at holiday offerings from major banks, I found that Scrooge still roams the halls at many of the big names. Only eight of the 20 largest U.S. banks are using holiday-themed promotions or graphics (note 1). That’s one more than last year, but still two less than 2010.

As usual, PNC Bank is the exception with their two-decade long holiday CPI (Christmas present index). BB&T, Comerica and Fifth Third are also festive this year with gift card promotions supported by seasonal graphics. And US Bank, Citi, Key and Regions Bank used some holiday imagery.   

The scrooge list: top-20 banks with no holiday promotions or graphics on Dec. 20): 
Bank of America, Bank of the West (BNP Paribas), Capital One, Chase, Citizens (RBS), Harris Bank (BMO), HSBC, ING Direct (Capital One), SunTrust, TD Bank, Union Bank (Mitsubishi UFJ), Wells Fargo

Following is a quick overview of the promotions, including a 1-to 5-bulb rating.

Previous year-end holiday posts: 2011 (big banks), 2011 (CUs/community banks), 2009 part 1, 2009 part 2, 2007, 2006, 2006, 2004


Big banks in the holiday spirit
(rated 1 to 5 bulbs; screenshots from Thursday, Dec 20)

PNC Bank

  • Gift Hunt tied to its Christmas CPI (based on the song 12 Days of Christmas)
  • Visa Gift Card promo (in rotation of four homepage promotions)

Score: imageimageimageimageimage

Hompage: PNC is leading with its 12 days of Christmas price index


PNC Bank microsite with gift hunt link


Also running gift card promo in rotation


BB&T (20 Dec 2012)

  • Holiday themed graphic featuring mobile check deposit
  • Small ad for gift cards




Fifth Third

  • Rotation of three holiday themed promotions
    — Holiday billpay sweeps
    — New Years savings pro
    — Gift cards





  • Prominent gift card promo across page and in lower-left corner




Key Bank

  • Holiday graphic, but no product promotion





  • Toy shopping background image




US Bank

  • Pitch for online banking, convenient while shopping



Regions Bank

  • Small saving money tips




1. Observations taken between 2pm and 3pm Pacific on Thurs Dec 20 from Seattle IP address, Chrome browser with no cookies
2. Animation from http://www.millan.net/anims/christmas.html#

Citibank Helps Users Better Understand Prior Payment Activity When Paying Credit Card Bill Online

image As I was paying my Citibank business credit card bill last night, apparently one day late (oops again), I noticed three new data fields to the payment summary box (note 1):

  • Dollar amount of payments in process as of today from any channel(note 2)
  • Number of payments made online this statement period
  • Dollar amount of payments made online this statement period

Consumers often forget whether they’ve paid the bill or not, so it’s important to provide help so they needn’t click around the site, or worse, call customer service.

While I love the functionality, the bank could have been a bit clearer in language used. For example, I don’t think real people call their credit card payment a "payment request." While that term satisfies the legal folk, who I’m sure argued that it’s only a "request" until the money actually arrives, it’s not consumer-friendly language and the bank does not provide an explanation.

Lastly, there’s an unfortunate lag in the updating of the "payment in progress" field. Immediately after paying my $30.80 statement balance, it shows up in the "online payment requests" field, but not in the "payment in progress" (see first screenshot). A day later, everything was in sync (second screenshot).

Despite these drawbacks, it’s a good improvement in transparency, and every issuer should offer similar info.


Citibank online credit card system (16 May 2012)
Note: This screenshot was taken after I’d paid the statement balance, so the "requests" fields shows 1 payment for $30.80. Unfortunately, "The Total Payments in Progress" did not reflect that yet, a confusing misalignment of posting times. 

Citibank online payment info box

Payment info box a day later (17 May 2012)
Note: Now the dollar amount in both fields match up.

Closeup of Citibank online credit card payment box


1. To be honest, I’m not sure how long this data has been available. It’s possible the bank has been showing it for a long time and I just hadn’t noticed. Perhaps someone from Citi will comment and I’ll update the post.
2. The exact explanation of this field from the Citi help popup:

This is the total amount of payments that you have recently submitted that have not yet posted to your account. This amount includes payments made through: Online Bill Pay, AutoPay or Pay by Phone. Please Note: Any payment made on a weekend or holiday will be applied as of the day you make it. However, it will not be posted until the next business day. Any payment scheduled to be applied for a future date is not included.

Design: Citibank Remodels Main Consumer Homepage

image The folks in charge of Citibank’s website are sure brave. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen this dramatic of a change overnight in a major banking website (see before and after screenshots below). The bank rolled out the new site Sunday night and it seems to be running smoothly today.

My first impression is positive. Banking websites tend to be too cluttered. So they either overwhelm prospective customers or cause existing customers to tune the whole thing out. This seems like a step in the right direction, but only the company’s web analytics team knows for sure. I’m sure it’s been an interesting Monday for everyone involved.

The bank moved the majority of the previous homepage links (see last screenshot) into drop-down "mega menus" that are only displayed when clicking on one of the seven primary navigation items at the top of the page (see second screenshot). The drop-downs only appear after an actual click, so the don’t cover up the page when you accidently hover over them with the mouse.

Citi.com homepage in iphone While the new site is clearly less busy overall, the bank has actually added two new items on the main (top) navigation bar:

  • Rewards & Offers: Highlights the bank’s ThankYou rewards program, AAdvantage co-branded card, and other programs. Given the bank’s emphasis on rewards, this is a good addition.
  • Services: This is a catchall leading to sections on online banking, mobile banking, and unusual features such as PopMoney p2p payments. Most items are repeated in the main Banking navigation item. While it seems redundant from a navigation perspective, perhaps it’s a marketing tool for prospects looking for "banking services."

The new site renders nicely on an iPhone, displaying the login box, then navigation items in a vertical format (see inset). I’m not sure if this is a change from the previous site. Note the banner ad at the top promoting the bank’s @AskCiti Twitter site.

There are also numerous changes in the online banking area, notably the addition of PFM features powered by Yodlee’s FinApp development platform. I’ll look at those in a future post.


1. New: 3 Oct 2011
Note: The main graphic, a young woman feigning delight over a bag of gift cards from Citi, is the same in both the before and after shots. But the new version is a mirror image of the old. 

New Citi.com homepage 3 Oct 2011

2. New design with Banking "mega menu" displayed over graphic

Net Citibank homepage with Banking menu displayed

3. Previous: 30 Sep 2011 (from Google cache
Note: The yellow highlights are on Google’s cached copy only, they would not have appeared on the actual Citi website.

Previous Citi.com as of 30 Sep 2011

Capital One Pays to Play in Zynga’s Virtual Worlds

imageLike most, I’ve been amazed at how fast Zynga was able to build a 250+ million user base for its social games. But I’d never actually played one.

Until now. So make that 250 million and one users, because I couldn’t resist checking up on Capital One’s new product placement in three Zynga games (more on what players could do). The bank’s Facebook page, which has grown to 2.3 million likes, has details on the promotions (screenshot 1).

image Although, it appears I may have missed my chance to interact with the CapOne goat, Visigoth statute or a virtual branch (the promo only ran one week), there are still credit card ads and mystery gifts available, at least in Farmville, the only game I tested.

Capital One viral gift & banner ads
Capital One may have ended the in-game elements for now, but they still have a presence in the game. Starting Farmville for the first time, I was greeted by a number of social elements, one of which is sending a Capital One gift (screenshot 2). There is no indication of what the gift actually is. Maybe that’s part of the fun, but it seems like a weakness to me. Am I sending someone a virtual goat or a solicitation for a CapOne card (mystery solved)? 

The company is also running banner ads within the game (screenshots 5 & 6). Clicking on them takes users to the usual Capital One pre-approval page within a separate browser window (screenshot 7). Once you land on the CapOne site there is no mention of Farmville.

Discover Card & Citibank bonus offers
Game players are encouraged to buy all kinds of virtual goods. They can earn virtual currency in a number of ways, including using real world cash to buy credits. But users can also earn currency by participating in sponsored activities.

Both Citi and Discover are offering users virtual cash to apply, and be approved, for a credit card. Discover is offering virtual currency worth about $75 and Citi is handing out about $50.

My take: With 250 million users, the large brands owe it to their shareholders to see if they can make hay in Farmville and any other popular virtual world. And I suspect there will be a positive ROI for the right mix of promotion/offer. I have no idea what the magic formula is, but you know the direct marketing wizards at CapOne, Citi and the others will figure it out sooner rather than later (note 1).


1. Capital One Facebook page (27 Sep 2011)

1. Capital One Facebook page

2. Capital One "free gift" in Farmville (27 Sep 2011)

Capital One "free gift" in Farmville (27 Sep 2011)

3. Choose friends you want to receive the gift

2. Choose friends you want to send the gift to

4. Before you send the gift, you have the opportunity to see what the notice looks like to the recipient, and you can add a personal note

3. Before you send the gift, you have the opportunity to see what the notice looks like to the recipient, and you can add a personal note

5. When I got back to the game, there was a large Capital One banner
Note: Starbucks promotion in lower right

4. When I got back to the game, there was a large Capital One banner

6. Another Capital One banner ad served while playing Farmville
Note: Bank of Internet ad on right

5. Another Capital One banner ad served while playing Farmville

7. The banner ad in Farmville, led to Capital One’s usual pre-qualification form

6. The banner ad in Farmville, led to Capital One's usual pre-qualification form

8. Discover Card and Citibank have powerful offers in the "earn cash" area.
Note: Discover offers 475 Farm Cash (worth about $75) for card approval, Citibank 300 (about $50). 


9. The first screen after choosing Discover’s offer

7. Discover Card and Citibank have more powerful offers, though it's buried in the "earn cash" area. Discover offers 475 Farm Cash (worth about $75) for card approval, Citibank 300 (about $50).

10. Clicking Continue above leads to standard Discover Card app (in new browser window)

8. Clicking Continue above leads to standard Discover Card app (in new browser window)


Note: If you are interested in a fictional look at where the commercialization of Internet gaming is headed, I highly recommend Cory Doctorow’s For the Win.

Citibank Running Front-page WSJ Facebook Campaign

imageCitibank is using some of the most expensive real estate on the planet, the front page of the Wall Street Journal, to promote its Facebook page (see inset and below). The bottom-of-the-page banner invites readers to Like Citibank on Facebook to “find amazing ways to use your (ThankYou) points,” and directs them to Citi’s main Facebook page, facebook.com/citibank.

Visitors are shown a special page promising exclusive access to an upcoming Beyonce concert for Citibank ThankYou customers (see first screenshot). After, clicking the Like button, a new screen appears with a “coming soon” message (second screenshot).

As of 11:30 Eastern this morning, Citi had 34,500 likes, by midnight the total had grown by about 2,000 to 36,500. I don’t know where they started the day, but according Visible Banking, the Citi Facebook page debuted in mid-November 2010 with 7,000 likes, mostly from employees. 

Bottom line: I like the idea of creating exclusive benefits for Facebook fans. And perhaps Citi’s goal is to make this into a “teaser” campaign. But overall, I was disappointed not to receive any immediate info to reward me for taking the time to visit/like the bank’s Facebook site.


Citibank banner ad, bottom of first page of WSJ (Western edition, 16 Aug. 2011)

Citibank banner ad on bottom of first page of WSJ  

Citibank’s Facebook page, before “Liking” (16 Aug. 2011, 8:30 AM Pacific)
Note: This is the landing page displayed when using the primarily URL, Facebook.com/citibank

Citibank's Facebook page, before "Liking" (16 Aug 2011, 8:30 Pacific 

Citibank’s Facebook page, after “Liking” (16 Aug. 2011, 9:15 PM Pacific)


Op Ed: Thoughts on Google Wallet

This guest post was written by Daniel Thomas, a 25-year strategy and product development veteran of the financial services industry. He is a principal consultant with Mindful Insights LLC.

image Google’s announcement two weeks ago certainly raised a few eyebrows in the mobile payments arena and took a giant leap toward putting to rest the debate about the use of NFC.

However, there’s an interesting twist that hasn’t been explored in the many articles written in the aftermath of the announcement. How will Google’s effort impact revenues from the merchant-funded rewards programs (see note 1) banks hope will increase loyalty while softening the blow of the now-certain Durbin Amendment losses?

Citibank inside google wallet

But has Google just killed banks’ dreams of grabbing a share of the online advertising pie ?

Merchants today are offering higher discounts and rebates to bankcard users because the banks, via various rewards vendors, are letting merchants in on their customers’ spending history.  That data obviously has a lot of value and the merchants compensate the banks for it in the form of commissions on purchases made by the bank’s customers after targeted offers have been presented.  On the surface, one might think that regardless of the mobile wallet used, Google’s or otherwise, so long as the payment is made from a bank-issued product, the bank will still own the spending history data and be able to trade it for a commission.

However, Google, or whoever owns the mobile wallet (but especially Google), will be able to “see” the purchases as they take place and can begin recording its own spending history data.  That, coupled with other non-mobile spend-history gleaned from browsing on the web across multiple cards per individual or household, potentially gives Google a leg up on the richness of its data (assuming Google can tie the two together, is there any doubt?).  Combine that with general browsing history and Google has a pretty good profile of each person to offer up to merchants. 

Privacy issues aside, this seems to trump bank spending history data placing Google in a much better position to bargain with merchants and ad networks. But privacy issues may well loom large over all of this once consumers and Congress put 2 and 2 together and figure out what Big Broth… er, that is, Google is up to.

Meanwhile, not everyone will have an Android phone nor a Google Wallet. Plenty of other mobile wallets will soon hit the scene, but even so it will take a long time for mobile wallets to replace plastic (amusing thought– which will go away first: plastic or the perpetual paper check?) so merchants will still want to keep banks in the equation by compensating them for allowing them to use their spending history to develop targeted offers.

So, merchants are going to need to decide: should they allow Google to make the reward offer or the banks?  Surely, they won’t compensate both for bringing in the same purchase. That leaves the decision in the hands of the consumers. Do they want to receive points and cash back from Google or from their bank? 

Undoubtedly, consumers will decide based on which one offers the greatest value for the least amount of work. Online usability has been a trademark of Google, banks not so much.


Citibank and MasterCard are key banking partners
On its website, Google asks prospective visitors if they have a Citibank MasterCard

Citibank and MasterCard are key banking partner


Note: For more information, see Online Banking Report: Merchant-Funded Rewards (published  Feb. 2011)

Extreme PFM: Bundle Launches Restaurant Recommender and Move-O-Matic

image Once upon a time, personal financial management (PFM) software was used only by those with complicated finances (usually with lots of business expenses to keep track of) or those who made a hobby out of tracking their money.

This was enough to support Intuit’s Quicken, but every other software solution either lost money, remained small, or folded.

Then along came Web 2.0, and it looked like that might change. Dozens of online PFM providers launched, gained some early traction, then hit a wall, requiring them to fold (Wesabe, Rudder), re-focus on white labeling (Geezeo, Strands), or stay small. Only Mint.com (now owned by Intuit) was able to make it as a major PFM destination riding a wave of publicity generated by being a tech darling.

So where does that leave us now? There are several obvious opportunities for personal finance companies:

  • Small businesses willing to pay for tools that save time and/or help them run their business better (Outright.com, Kashoo, Xero and many others)
  • Tools that satisfy specific needs with almost immediate time savings (Expensify for expense reports)
  • Tools that watch over your accounts to make sure you are not defrauded, cheated, or billed in error (in development at a number of companies)

And then there’s the avenue that Bundle is working on:

  • Using the aggregated data to provide spending insights for everyone

Bundle’s new tools
This week, Finovate Fall Best of Show winner (video), Bundle, released two new tools under the tab, Everybody’s Money (as opposed to the other option, My Money)

  • Restaurant Recommender (see below)
  • Move-O-Matic: Clever name and revamped interface for a feature Bundle has been delivering since it launched a year ago (previous post) that provides spending comparisons between various cities (see note 1)
  • Restaurant Recommender is brilliant and could be a useful tool for anyone who eats out often (a much, much bigger audience than those that track their spending closely). It only works for NYC and LA right now, but more cities are in the plans.

Here’s how it works:

  • Type in a restaurant name (I chose Balthazar, a place my parents treated me to on a recent birthday; see first screenshot)
  • Click the green Find Restaurants button
  • Bundle returns a list of other restaurants that Balthazar customers frequent, complete with a “loyalty score” that quantifies how much customers spend at each restaurant along with a confidence measure on the recommendation (second screenshot)

And because the startup uses actual spending data from 20 million cards in its algorithm, the recommendations are based on real data, not the sometimes biased results of online review and popularity sites. As Bundle puts it, users “vote with their dollars.”

If Bundle and Yelp make APIs available, it would be great to see a mashup of Yelp reviews augmented with Bundle spending data. And it’s yet to be seen if they can convert casual drive-by data traffic into hardcore PFM users. But for now, Bundle is a great discovery tool, if you live in NYC or LA.

Bundle Restaurant Recommender (16 Dec. 2010)

Bundle Restaurant Recommender (16 Dec 2010)

Results for NYC search on “Balthazar”
Note: Bundle increased the transparency of the recommendation by disclosing how many transactions were used to derive the correlation. In the case of the Balthazar Bakery, the choice was based on more than 87,000 transactions. Bundle also provide a measure of how confident they are in the recommendation (the blue bar). 

Bundle Results for NYC search on "Balthazar"

Bundle move-o-matic compares Seattle to NYCNotes:
1. Regarding Move-O-Matic. Here’s my original footnote followed by the correction (in italics):
Unfortunately, when you drill into the data, the results sometimes seem strange. Does anyone really think the highest income folks ($125k+) in NYC really spend $230 less per month than those in Seattle excluding housing costs (see inset)? Granted, we spend a lot more on coffee; still, not sure I buy this result.
(Update 17 Dec. 2010: Looks like this was user error in part aided by the tool’s autofill which suggested NYC, which includes all 5 boroughs, when I typed N. If I’d have input “Manhattan” instead of NYC the results would be much different. The tool says I spend $1,500 more per month in Manhattan, that sounds much more realistic. My apologies.)
2. Bundle is backed by Citibank, Microsoft, and Morningstar
3. See Xero at FinovateEurope, Feb. 1.
4. For more on online personal financial management (OFM), see our recent Online Banking Report.

Citibank Adds Text Banking to its Mobile Lineup

image With today’s launch from Citibank (press release), the big four U.S. banks now all support text banking (Bank of America, Chase, Citibank, and Wells Fargo) (see note 1).

With these four giants on board, text banking turns into table stakes going forward, i.e., a must-have feature. Those without it have a tangible deficiency that will cost them customers, especially in the heavy-texting youth market.

The Citibank service is read-only offering Bal, Stmt, and Hist commands sent to its shortcode MyCiti (692484) (see second screenshot for command list). It also includes the all-important Stop function to turn off all text messages and alerts. Chase Bank recently became the first major U.S. bank to offer text-based funds transfers.

Citibank isn’t making a big deal of the new option on its website. The text option is now positioned on the mobile page with equal billing with the bank’s iPhone and (other) smartphone options (see first screenshot below).

Citibank mobile landing page (link, 22 June 2010)

Citibank mobile landing page

Text banking page (link)

Citibank text banking page

1. Update June 23: While BofA and Citi added text banking this year, Wells
and Chase have offered it since 2007.
2. For more on mobile banking and payments, see the most recent issue from Online Banking Report.

Citibank Launches a Blog at New.Citi.com

image One of the things I enjoy about using Gmail are the one-line ads displayed across the top of the screen. It’s fascinating to see how Google’s algorithm attempts to figure out what’s on the top of my mind by reading my recent emails (goodbye privacy).

Last week, it correctly deduced that I’d be interested in a new initiative by Citibank; unfortunately, I didn’t capture the exact ad, but it pointed me to the URL <new.citi.com>, which itself was enough to get a click out of me.

To my surprise, new.citi.com is an online microsite aimed at sharing the things Citi is doing to bring itself back from the brink. And it’s being told in blog format. It started in February with seven posts on Feb. 1. There was no activity for two weeks, but since then the bank has posted 15 new entries, about 2.5 per week, a good pace.

The content is good. For example, yesterday they wrote about their no-overdraft philosophy on debit cards, a policy they’ve always adhered to. The bank even linked to Ron Lieber’s NY Times, Your Money column, “Overdraft Protection. Why Bother?“, just like a real blog.

The design is attractive and consistent with Citi’s brand identity (see screenshot below). But it’s a little over-indulgent for a blog. Above the fold, all you see are Citi executive testimonials and an undated post from CEO Vikram Pandit permanently anchored there. I recommend activating the upper-right mute button to obviate the annoying little jingle that plays each time you click a new page. 

The bank allows comments, moderated of course. Most posts have just one or two, but the anchor post has 60.

It’s good to see another major bank blogging, especially after Bank of America killed its innovations blog (note 1). And it’s a solid effort, good for the bank and its brand. A little restraint in the design department and this would earn an A grade. 

Citi’s corporate blog site (19 March 2010)
Note: You can get rid of the faces by clicking on minimize, and mute the jingle with the speaker sign, but few users are going to see those, or know what they mean.


Note: For an even better example, check out Truliant Federal Credit Union’s superb new blog. The CU has an internal team that’s been doing five relevant posts per week since Jan 27.