Discover Card’s User-Generated Card Design Contest

image Personalized card designs have been offered by Capital One and others for years. But I’ve yet to see the idea turned into a contest. Discover Card is running a promotion for the best design submitted through its microsite or Facebook page.

The winner will pocket $1000 and the design will be featured on the next Discover Card Student Card. There is also another $1000 split among five runner-up designs.

To enter the contest, users must log in at the Discover microsite using Facebook connect (see screenshot #2, below). After creating the design, users end up on a Facebook page where they can provide optional personal information (screenshot #3). 

The promotion is powered by the Graffiti Facebook app.

As you can see by my handiwork (inset), most card designs are pretty crude. But there are also some pretty creative entrants. There is only one design tool available, a brush you run with your mouse. The only variations are color, brushstroke width and opacity. No uploads are allowed, so you cannot add any fancy graphics created in other apps.

The contest ends tomorrow and so far there are nearly 5,000 entries. 

Bottom line: It’s a drop-dead simple contest with excellent Facebook integration and a link to apply for Discover’s Student Card. It’s a great idea, with good execution, and the card issuer will end up with a cool new card design for a relatively small cost. Grade A+ 

Thanks to Payments News for the link.

1. Discover Card microsite (31 Dec. 2009)
Note: Homepage showing the 10-most recent entries with our lame effort in the lower-right.

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2. Discover Card design creation page

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3. Facebook optional personal info page

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4. Designs appear on the Discover Facebook page under the Graffiti tab (link)
Note: Considering the crude input tool, some of the designs are amazing. As you can see, I will not be in the running for prize money. 

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Blippy: Do We Really Want to Automatically Tweet our Purchase Transactions?

image I love startups. Just when you think you’ve seen everything, along comes someone doing something that no one would have ever thought of five years ago, or in this case one year ago.

image The latest inspiration: Blippy. The service allows you to automatically broadcast your credit or debit card purchases using the Twitter/Facebook model (see screenshot below; note 1).

The first question everyone asks is why? (see comments at TechCrunch) But really, it’s not much different than broadcasting personal details via Twitter or your whereabouts via Foursquare, especially if you limit viewing to friends. The founder, serial entrepreneur, Philip Kaplan explains in the TechCrunch interview, that he has one credit card for “social purchases” broadcast on Blippy and another for purchases he prefers to keep private.

Blippy will contain privacy controls that allow users to share everything or keep it within a closed loop of friends. The company also envisions many other privacy controls to turn the service off and on, allow users to approve transactions before publishing, suppress certain merchants, or merchant categories, and so on.

The use cases shown so far are centered around media purchases, for example using it to automatically tweet (blip?) what song or movie you bought on iTunes or social “check ins” where the service lets people know you just bought coffee at Starbucks. But I can see where it would be helpful for spouses to “broadcast” purchases only to each other. Or for a salesperson to broadcast their purchases to their assistant to build expense reports on the fly. 

The service is in closed alpha (only in use by a handful of friends and family, note 2) as the three-person company gears up for a launch. You can follow Kaplan on Twitter (@pud) for more info.

My take: I like the idea of easily sharing purchases with joint-account holders or a bookkeeper. But many (most?) online banking systems and PFMs already allow this through the alerts system. You may want to boost education efforts on this capability.

imageAs for Tweeting about songs downloaded via iTunes, wouldn’t most users prefer to maintain more control over that by simply using Twitter or Facebook to directly type a short note? But we know from experience, if there’s a way to do something with less effort, it stands a good chance of succeeding.  

I’m not expecting widespread adoption any time soon, but I think there is a market for sharing spending transactions.

Here’s something for innovative FIs to consider: Add a “share this” button next to credit/debit card transaction and let users send the info via email, Twitter or Facebook with a couple keystrokes (see inset from FiLife).

I know it sounds far-fetched, but it might be just the thing to make your card stand out with heavy users of social media.

Blippy homepage showing spending stream (16 Dec. 2009)

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Note:
1. For more info in Twitter, see our Online Banking Report on the technology published in May.
2. Twitter’s Evan Williams is using Blippy as shown in screenshot taken by CNET’s Rafe Needleman in his article earlier this week.

Donors Choose Checkout Includes Amazon Payments along with Facebook and Twitter Integration

image I love how the Internet removes friction from everyday tasks, especially payment-related ones. And one of the great success stories of recent years, beginning with Hurricane Katrina relief in August 2005, is how easy it is to make charitable gifts online.

I’ve used the Red Cross site several times. It gets the job done, but not with the flair and superb user experience of Donors Choose (note 1). 

Thanks to Fred Wilson, blogging at A VC, I contributed to the Social Media Challenge last week and got a first-hand look at Donors Choose. The simple checkout process has three features that I’d not seen before:

  • Amazon Payments as a payment choice (along with PayPal, credit card, or check; first screenshot)
  • Automated Facebook wall post integration (second screenshot)
  • Automated Twitter posting with two options:
    — allow Donors Choose to Tweet a thank-you to you referencing your @twittername
    — provides a template for you to make a Tweet from your own Twitter account

If you want to see a state-of-the-art checkout system in action, and support kids in the classroom, check out Donors Choose.

Or if you are looking to add a charitable-giving feature to your banking site for the holidays, you can easily create your own giving page at Donors Choose and run a widget on your website tracking the campaign’s progress (see inset). You can choose which projects to support so long as they fall within the nonprofit’s mission of “helping students in need.”

Donors Choose cart with Amazon Payments and PayPal integration (13 Oct 2009)

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Facebook wall post integration
This screen popped up after I checked out

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Twitter integration

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Donors Choose shout-out page on Twitter (link)
Note: First Tweet was Sep 29. Have done 342 since then (through 13 Oct 2009).

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Note:
1. My first donation via Amazon Payments failed because I accidentally used a canceled credit card number. And evidently there is a bit of a bug in the feedback loop to the Donors Choose site. I got an error message, but when I clicked “next” to re-enter the payment, the site transferred me out to the thank-you page and I was unable to go back and re-do the transaction. I had to start all over again, and now the site shows that I’ve made two donations instead of one. 

Target Taps Customers via Facebook to Designate Recipients for its Corporate Giving

imageTarget is running a clever Facebook promotion that allows Facebook users to allocate the retailer’s $3 million weekly corporate donation among eight pre-selected charities. I heard about it in an email from the Red Cross encouraging its supporters to go to Facebook and vote more of cash its way (see screenshots below).     

How it works: When Facebook users vote, they are given the opportunity to automatically publicize their activity with their friends (see second Target screenshot). Finally, after a vote, Target shows the running totals for each charity. As of today, nearly 70,000 votes had been tallied.

Analysis: This is a good way to leverage social networking. Not only is Target reinforcing its brand, and its commitment to donate 5% of its income to charity, it’s created a non-intrusive viral campaign with both Facebook users and the charitable organizations motivated to spread the word. Nicely done.

Opportunity: This approach would also work great for a financial institution.

From Target website (link)

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Target’s voting page on Facebook (14 May 2009)

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Voters are given the opportunity to spread the word to their Facebook friends (14 May 2009)

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After each vote, Target displays a running total (14 May 2009)

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E*Trade Casts a Wide Social Net to Support the "Baby" Campaign

image In my pre-Super Bowl post about E*Trade’s “baby” franchise, I wasn’t aware of several other ways the company is using social media to increase awareness:

  • Baby’s Twitter page (screenshot #1 below and note 1;): This is a new effort launched Jan. 22, the same day the 2009 outtakes clip was released into the wild via YouTube and press release. The baby Tweeted a few times on the days leading up to the game, and a few since, but the funniest part was the 26 game-day Tweets that actually incorporated real-time events into the script. There are only 650 followers today, but that’s up 150 since Monday morning  not a bad start for a low-cost marketing tool. 
  • Baby’s Facebook page (screenshot #2 below): Also launched around Jan. 22, the E*Trade baby Facebook page already has 3,825 fans. The commercials are posted along with a photo album. 

The E*Trade homepage has also been used before and after the game to take advantage of interest in the baby ads. The baby dominated E*Trade’s homepage the day after the big game (see screenshot #3 below of the Monday morning homepage). 

Lessons for financial institutions
You don’t have to be a Super Bowl advertiser to use social media to support your advertising campaigns. Banks and credit unions of any size can use these relatively low-cost tactics.

Here are the eight key support elements to consider for your next campaign:

   1. Press release
   2. Blog entries
   3. Facebook page
   4. Twitter stream
   5. YouTube page
   6. Homepage placement
   7. Landing page
   8. Google keyword buys (see screenshot #4 below)

1. E*Trade baby Twitter page (link, 3 Feb. 2009)

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2. E*Trade Facebook page
(link, 3 Feb. 2009)

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3. E*Trade homepage the morning after Super Bowl XVIII
(2 Feb. 2009)

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4. E*Trade is running Google ads on searches for “etrade baby”
(3 Feb. 2009, 6PM Pacific)

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Note:
1. Thanks Jeffry Pilcher for the Twitter tip.

2. See our Online Banking Report: Bank 2.0 for more ideas.

Rate Surfer and MyMoney to Demo at Finovate 2008

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Finovate takes place four weeks from today (Oct. 14), and we’ve already surpassed last year’s attendee total. Luckily, we booked a bigger space, so there will be more bankers and tech execs to network with and everyone in the audience will have a seat at a table to park that laptop, Blackberry, iPhone, or whatever.

But the space isn’t unlimited and if we continue the sign-up pace of the past few weeks we’ll sell out well before Oct. 14. So, don’t wait too long, register here (see note 1).  

When we announced the Finovate lineup, there were three companies that chose to remain secret. Two of those are now being named (note 2):

  • Rate Surfer which participated in the TechCrunch50 DemoPit last week (post here)
  • MyMoney from Fiserv’s Galaxy unit, a Facebook application that allows users to check their bank balance and transactions from within their Facebook account (post here)

Note:
1. Clients with annual subscriptions to our All-Access Online Banking Report are eligible for a conference discount; email info@netbanker.com for your client discount code.

2. The 24th company is in stealth mode and will be revealed on or very near the conference on Oct. 14.

Visa Launches Business Network on Facebook

image After seeing the little blurb buried deep in today’s Wall Street Journal
(p. B-9), I checked out the press release, and then headed to Facebook to see Visa’s new app aimed at small businesses. To gain that all-important viral effect, Visa is giving away $2 million in Facebook advertising credits, $100 to the first 20,000 businesses that join its new The Visa Business Network on Facebook (see note 1).

Visa’s Facebook page advertising the network looks good (see screenshot below). It’s very “corporate,” but I prefer that over lame attempts to look hip. It’s dominated by a large video at the top explaining the program, plus three more along the bottom explaining other aspects. 

Visa Business Network (promotional) page on Facebook (24 June 2008)

Visa Business Network on Facebook page 24 June 2008

Selecting the Join this Network button takes you to a page where you are encouraged to add the Visa Business Network app to your Facebook profile. After adding the app, you must complete a short form to identify your business to the network and upload a picture if desired.

Visa Business Network app signup 24 June 2008

It only takes a few minutes, and your company is visible to anyone searching the Visa Business Network. It doesn’t appear that Visa’s network is searchable through the regular Facebook search. If and when that happens, the network would gain considerably more value.

Here’s how my Visa Business Network page looked after uploading a graphic:

Online Banking Report page on Visa Business Network 24 June 2008

Summary
The application also features a Business Resource section with the usual collection of business tools (from Google), articles and videos plus an Ask the Expert section. 

While the idea of a general business network within a larger network seems a bit superfluous, Facebook isn’t exactly known to be particularly accommodating to business needs. Maybe this will work. Certainly, if Visa attracts the 20,000 businesses it’s earmarked advertising credits for, it will have a head start on others wanting to do the same thing.

However, we wonder how much effort the card giant will devote to the service. It doesn’t seem to align that closely to its core card-processing business. But if its goal is to merely improve brand recognition with small business owners, it could be a valuable effort. Clearly Visa has the deep pockets to fund it for the long term. Who knows, maybe some lucky Business Network member will appear in a Visa Super Bowl ad some day. 

Note:
1. The $100 advertising credit was handled flawlessly. A few minutes after joining the network, I received an email to my main email account explaining how to redeem the credit.

13% Would Use Banking in Facebook

In an unscientific poll of 500 Facebook users (see note 1), we found that 13% of respondents are interested in accessing their bank balance through their Facebook account (red bar below).

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Source: Online Banking Report, 9 April 2008, n = 500

While that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement of the idea, it’s potentially enough early adopters to get the service rolling. Most of the interest emanated from younger segments. For example, 18% of 18-to-24 year-olds said they’d probably use Facebook banking (gray bar below) compared to about 5% of the 25-49 group (green and yellow bars below).

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Source: Online Banking Report, 9 April 2008, n = 500

But it will take education to move “Facebook banking” into the mainstream. The majority of respondents, 70%, said there is “no way” they’d bank within Facebook and another 13% said probably not, resulting in a strong 83% negative rating. Given well-founded concerns surrounding online security, that’s not surprising. 

For more information:

Note:
1. Survey was conducted April 9 through Facebook’s polling mechanism. Total respondents = 500. Respondents are self-selected so the results should not be used to forecast specific demand.

WaMu Posts Best Banking Facebook Page So Far

image As a marketer you have to love WaMu. They are bold, quirky, and not afraid to poke fun at conventional wisdom. I haven't liked all their advertising campaigns, but that doesn't matter as long as the bank is reaching its target markets and delivering results.

While the bank has its challenges cleaning up the mortgage mess, its marketing department and ad agency are still producing good work. Case in point: WaMu's new Facebook page (below).

I realize that all banking pages in Facebook will appear lame to just about every 20-something that happens to stumble across them (see previous coverage here). But 20-somethings do still need checking accounts, debit/credit cards, vehicle loans, and so forth. So they will buy banking services. And what brand will they choose? The one that is at least making an effort to meet them on their turf with Facebook pages, text messaging, and humorous advertising, such as the talking banner campaign shown below.  

WaMu's Facebook page, which looks like it was posted April 17, contains videos, a crossword game, a branch finder, a checking account application form, a fan area and a communications app (note 1) that can be added to your Facebook profile. Take a look yourself here.

Excellent work: A

WaMu Facebook Page (23 April 2008) (note 2)

WaMu Facebook page

Notes:
1. Even though I added it to my profile, I'm not sure what the WaMu Facebook application does. It appears to be a way to communicate with friends on Facebook and has 49 daily users.

2. The bar across the middle of the page is unrelated to the WaMu page; it's the new Facebook chat feature, that appears along the bottom of all screens, and messes up my screenshot. It does show you where the "fold" exists on a 13.3 high resolution laptop screen.

Facebook Financial & Banking Apps Have Only 263 Daily Users

image It's been a while since we looked at the actual usage of payment, personal finance, lending, and banking apps on Facebook (previous coverage here; see note 1). And assuming the numbers provided by Facebook are accurate, it's not good news. 

Overall, the banking and personal finance apps have anemic usage levels totaling just 263 daily users (for apps with more than 1 daily user). That does not include virtual currencies or stock tracking/investing applications (see note 2). In comparison, the most popular general Facebook app, FunWall, has more than 3 million daily users.

But the number will grow rapidly if major financial institutions add balance inquiry functionality such as (#4) MyMoney from Fiserv's Galaxy unit (previous coverage here) and mShift's Key Point Credit Union app discussed here (only 1 daily user, so it did not make our table).  Activity in Facebook personal finance apps yesterday (13 March 2008):

Name (parent) Daily Users
1. PayPal (eBay) 80
2. Billmonk (Obopay) 55
3. LendingClub* 26
4. MyMoney (Fiserv) 17
5. PayMe 14
6. Debt Manager 10
7. Prosper 7
8. FriendFunds 7
9. UPside Visa Card Balance Reader 6
10. Web Money 6
11. Buxfer 5
12. IOU (Sanjay Madan) 5
13. Split It (TD Bank) 4
14. MoneyExchange (Revolution Money) 4
15. IOU (Jonas Neubert) 3
16. Mortgage Calculator 3
17. BillTrack 3
18. Insurance Marketplace 2
19. Wesabe 2
20. FB E-Wallet 2
21. Intuit Tax Tips 2
TOTAL 263**

*See comment 1

**Does not include apps with less than 2 users

Notes:

1. You cannot make a meaningful comparison with last summer's activity because Facebook changed the way it reports usage. Previously, the company reported the number of application downloads and now it shows the much, much smaller "active daily user" total. For example, in July 2007, LendingClub had already had more than 11,000 downloads. Under the new measurement system it tallies just 26 daily users which puts it in third place (see table below).

2. The leading stock tracking app, Fantasy Stock Exchange, has 7,990 daily users. The most popular virtual currency AceBucks has 11,300 daily users.

50 Banks and Credit Unions Have Facebook Pages

imageFour months ago (here) I wrote about how easy it was to set up a company page in Facebook. Even a total novice like myself could create one in a few minutes.

There hasn't exactly been a rush to do it, but approximately 50 financial institutions have posted a free company page on Facebook (see note 1). Although, most are simple "white page" listings with no more than logo, address, phone number and URL, it's still better than nothing.
(Update Mar 7: Please note, I am talking only about Facebook "pages" here. There are several banking "groups," notably Chase +1 with nearly 50,000 members, that are far more active. Also, some FI pages , such as TD Money Lounge and RBC Bankbook, do not show up in my search using "bank" and "credit union." Consider these counts approximations. )

Credit unions have three times as many as banks. Credit union's can often move faster because of their size and culture. Here's the count by financial institution type:

  • 10 North American banks
  • 32 North American credit unions
  • 8 banks outside North America

The only banks with more than a handful of fans are Jordan's Arab Bank with 145 and HSBC Bank Egypt with 89. Silicon Valley's Valley Credit Union (screenshot below) leads in the U.S. with 45 fans.

Valley Credit Union Facebook page

There's also one bank branch that's taken the initiative to post a Facebook page. U.S. Bank's Beaver Valley, Ohio branch (here) is one of the few to have posted something interesting, a $100 Super Bowl contest. They've also posted their branch hours (see screenshot below). 

US Bank's Beaver Valley branch Facebook page

Note:

1. I counted financial institution pages by using Facebook's site search for "bank" and then for "credit union." To qualify the FI had to at least post the bank's logo and URL. There were also a few placeholder pages with no logo.

2. For more information on social media and online personal finance, see our Online Banking Report #144/145.

Banking in Facebook with MyMoney from Fiserv Galaxy

image Fiserv's Galaxy unit has created an online banking module for Facebook called MyMoney. I haven't been briefed on it yet, but Galaxy will be hosting a webinar on Tues, Feb 12 and Wed, Feb 13 (register here), if you want a closer look.

According to the company, MyMoney offers full-service transactional online banking:

…members can conveniently view account balances, review history, transfer money between accounts, and much, much more.

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Galaxy hopes that the Facebook application leads to viral member growth for its credit union clients:

When a member adds MyMoney™ to their Facebook page, their friends will be notified and given the opportunity to also join your credit union right then and there, giving you yet another way to reach this growing audience.

I couldn't find any mention of the application on Facebook, so it doesn't appear that its been implemented by an credit unions yet. Who will be first? Drop a note in the comments or send me an email (jim@netbanker.com) if your company plans to deploy it.

In November, we awarded an OBR Best of the Web to a similar service from KeyPoint Credit Union powered by mShift (coverage here).

Thanks again to Jeffry Pilcher for the tip.