New Report Published: The Best of FinovateAsia 2012

image Our first Finovate in Asia did not disappoint. With 350 attendees, it was smaller than recent U.S. shows, but it had a ton of energy. While that made it hard to herd folks back to the auditorium amidst all their animated conversations, it’s  exactly what we hope for. And we are looking forward to a return next year.

FinovateAsia featured 35 companies, each delivering a seven-minute demo. As is our habit, we’ve summarized the innovations from the crowd favorites and are deliver it to subscribers in the latest report:

The Best New Products at FinovateAsia 2012

Each of the four companies voted Best of Show by the attendees at the event (note 1) are profiled:

  • CurrencyFair showed off its new Marketplace for
    peer-to-peer international transfers
  • Finantix launched Sharp digital banking platform to
    improve sales and service interaction
  • SocietyOne debuted its ClearMatch technology used
    to streamline the loan application process 
  • Ubank, a unit of National Australian Bank (NAB), launched 
    its  peer-spending comparison tool, People like U


About the report

The Best New Products at FinovateAsia (link)
A look at the four "Best of Show" winners

Author: Julie Schicktanz, Finovate Group Research Analyst
Editor: Jim Bruene, Finovate Group Founder

Published: 21 November 2012

Length: 32 pages; 7,000 words

Cost: No extra charge to OBR subscribers, US$125 for others
The printed version will be mailed to subscribers next week.


1. See Best of Show methodology here.

Banking on SMS

by Pieter de Villiers, CEO of Clickatell

Clickatell_logoIn the fight against financial fraud, it's a simple technology that is proving one of the most effective deterrents, as well as being a cost-cutting tool that builds customer loyalty.  Thanks to the incredible reach of SMS, its simplicity, and the fact that it is the most accessible messaging technology in the world, banks are introducing text messaging as an added layer of security for their customers to tackle the problem of identity theft.

Case studies
Fnb_za_logo In South Africa, for example, First National Bank (FNB) <> claims that its SMS service, called inContact, has not only reduced fraud by 43%, but also has brought about increases in Internet-banking security. Client retention has increased by 15%, and call center costs have been reduced. With 22 million messages sent every month to more than 1.1 million subscribers, FNB is the largest single sender of text messages in the country, responsible for 26% of all messages.

With the widespread adoption of mobile communications, it’s a fair assumption that most people with a bank account, credit and debit cards will have a mobile phone. “Contactability” is rarely an issue. With very few exceptions, a text message will reach its intended destination, and it will be read. It is a peculiarity of mobile communications that while many people will ignore a call, they will always look at a text message. It is also a private communication.

Like FNB, a growing number of banks are realizing the power of the text message, and SMS is being introduced as an added layer of security for their customers. By simply receiving a text every time a transaction takes place, money is transferred, or an account is accessed, customers have immediate visibility of their account and can alert their bank about any suspicious activity.

The “soft” benefits are enormous as well. Banks can’t operate without a high level of credibility. Customers have to trust banks to trust them with their cash, their money management and their credit. FNB’s efforts have gone a long way to building and maintaining this level of credibility and trust. In addition, SMS brings the bank closer to its customer: It shows that the bank is innovative and at the forefront of best banking practices, and it raises brand awareness. SMS is not just a technology for FNB; it’s another channel to the customer just like its branches, ATMs, the Internet and telephone banking.

Bankinter_logoThis is not just a South African trend. Spanish bank Bankinter <> has launched an SMS-based service to inform people each time their bankcard is used. A system warns the user via SMS of each banking operation made with the card. If the customer has not initiated the transactions, the card can be canceled immediately.

Nationalbank_aus_logoAn article in Australia’s Herald Sun Business Daily cites an internal report from the National Australia Bank (NAB) <>. The bank is concerned that it is losing AUS$1 million (US$760,000) due to Internet banking fraud. As one of its initiatives to reverse this, the bank has launched an SMS system to provide PIN-protected access to Internet banking services. According to the report, executives at the bank predict that online fraud will be reduced by 90% once 90% of customers have signed up for the scheme.

SMS and consumer behavior
It is the very nature of SMS and mobile phone use that contributes to these success rates. People have their mobile phones with them, wherever they are, and typically welcome the SMS security initiative as it means that both the customer and the banks are responsible for account security. The proactive alert makes life far more difficult for the criminal. If the losses through fraud of the financial industry can be reduced, then ultimately the customer could benefit from lower charges.

Never intended to be a commercial product, SMS has taken the world by storm. Mass implementation by mobile operators happened in the early 1990s, and the spread of inter-network roaming agreements provided the momentum to drive SMS take-up and make it a true mass market messaging service. According to Portio Research, 761 billion SMSs were sent in 2004 – that’s more than 100 messages for every man, woman and child on the planet.  Portio estimates that worldwide SMS traffic volumes will grow to 2,379 billion in 2010.

With the benefit of hindsight, the success of SMS is not surprising. It is simply an ideal form of peer-to-peer communication: cost-effective, with exceptionally high reach. As a marketing tool it demonstrates a very high response rate of up to 82% for branded campaigns and an average of 16% for other campaigns. It is immediate, reliable and personal. Messages can be customized to appeal to individual groups. Communicators can automate message sending and receive detailed reporting on activities. It is the accidental cash cow of the cellular industry, and the strength of its very simplicity is being leveraged by increasing numbers of businesses worldwide.


Pieter de Villiers is the CEO of Clickatell <>, a mobile messaging provider that allows businesses to connect people anywhere, with any message, across any device. Clickatell is headquartered in Redwood Shores, Calif., with offices in South Africa and the United Kingdom.

National Bank of Australia Helps Users Create Ads for its World Cup Soccer Team

Nationalbankaus_worldcup_makead_logo_1Earlier in the year, we lamented the lack of creativity by banks in leveraging Super Bowl mania at their websites (see NetBanker Feb. 3). Not so with the other "football."

Nationalbankaus_worldcup_makeadNational Australia Bank promotes its World Cup entrant, the Socceroos, with a clever, make-your-own ad microsite (see screenshots below). A small graphic on its homepage (click on inset for closeup) leads users to the interactive ad-building site. Users create custom video shorts by dragging-and-dropping video clips into a storyboard. User then adds own text and chooses from several soundtracks to complete the creation. Ads are posted online and can be viewed either by looking at "the latest," "the most popular," or celebrity ads. There are 320 posted as of today.


This is smart in so many ways:

  1. The novelty of the website creates positive publicity in the media, on and off-line.
  2. The bank creates a positive association with its brand by leveraging the national pride generated by a World Cup entrant.
  3. Nationalbankaus_worldcup_makead_example_2 The "cool factor" of interactive content positions the bank as "with it."
  4. As users upload their ads to video-sharing services such as YouTube, the bank will get a viral marketing boost. The bank wisely plasters its name at the beginning and end of the content, positioning itself on an equal footing with the end-user author (see inset). 

This is another clever example of user-generated content, something we'll see more of as mainstream businesses ride the wave of blogging's popularity: MySpace, YouTube, and 10,000 Web startups. (Click on the link below for additional screenshots). —JB

First page of the ad making microsite:


Listing of favorite ads:


Listing of celeb ads: