Mobile Marketing: Leveraging the iPhone App Update Process

image As customers have adopted ever-more convenient delivery methods, the customer communications process has changed dramatically. Each channel has its own ways of communicating with customers:

  • Branch/mail: Signage, statement inserts, chance conversations in line, direct sales pitches
  • Phone: On-hold messages, prompts on the phone tree, direct sales pitches
  • Online: Email, interstitials, display ads, website content, popups, online chat
  • Mobile: Similar to online plus notifications, text messages and app updates (see below)

In the mobile channel, the process for updating native apps provides a unique marketing opportunity that is virtually without cost and guaranteed to be read by a large portion of your mobile customers (previous post). App publishers have a screen of free real estate to explain the benefits of the new feature(s).

I’ve read thousands of these update descriptions and there is huge variety of approaches. Some publishers take maximum advantage of the “free publicity” to engage their customers (see Yelp below), pump up the new features (see USAA), and seek additional feedback (see Redfin, SimplyUs examples).

Other publishers don’t pay enough attention to readability (Wells, Bank of America, US Bank examples, see note 1) or just put the minimum effort into a bulleted list (E*Trade). 

Bottom line: Each time you push out a new update, use it as an opportunity to educate users and reinforce your mobile brand.

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iPhone App Update Examples

Good
———

Yelp reinforces its playful brand with        USAA is more matter of fact, but  
enthusiastic and humorous copy                   does a good job highlighting new
announcing its v.6.0.                                           features in its v.4.9.

image     image

Redfin released a minor bug fix in             SimplyUs gets right to its bullet
v.3.3.2 but includes its email address        list of features, with just enough
to report any issues.                                           info to explain the v.1.0.17 update.
Nice touch!                                                            Plus email and Twitter handle.

image     image

Need work
——————

Wells does an OK job, but the first               Similarly, Bank of America has an
bullet reads like something lifted from        acceptable message for its v.3.3.351. 
project checklist. And the second                  But the copy is a little confusing and
is too long-winded. Plus, a floating             has an asterisked point floating mid-page.                       “Bug fixes” hovers at  the bottom                        
of its v.2.1 update.

image     image

US Bank’s v. 1.6.8 message is                    E*Trade’s 2.6 update sounds like it
confusing. Something about being             has a bunch of new features, but
asked to accept a quick update, but 
         it did nothing but list them with
no specifics on why or what has                no explanations.
changed.

image    image

—————–

Note:
1. These examples were all taken from updates I downloaded today. They are not necessarily indicative of every update from these companies. At major releases (such as Yelp’s v6.0), most publishers will step up the copy-writing quality.

First Look: U.S. Bank’s New iPad App

image Yesterday, U.S. Bank became the fifth top-10 United States bank to release an iPad app and only the second  to include remote check deposit (Chase was first). The new app is not listed on the bank’s website yet, but became available in the Apple App Store on May 1.

I’ve been testing it for a day now and find it attractive, well laid out, and practical. It’s a genuine native tablet app, and not an enlarged version of its iPhone app. 

Here’s what I liked:

  • Remote deposit: A cool feature that creates a nice point of differentiation for now. 
  • Person-to-person payments (which I didn’t test because I needed to first enroll online)
  • Different portrait vs. landscape mode looks: The layout changes slightly depending on what position you use the app.
  • Built-in calculator and calendar: The lower-right corner contains a calculator/calendar widget.
  • Pinned account summary: Account balances are displayed in the upper-right corner on all pages.
  • Offers section: The bank has created an offers area in the middle of the page. Presumably this is where the bank will display card-linked offers from its partnership with FreeMonee, along with bank-product specials. Unfortunately, it’s empty, at least for my account (note 1). Unless, the box can be hidden, there should be at least one offer in it at all times (especially at app launch).
  • Contact info: The bank’s phone number and email address are prominently displayed.
  • Integrated location map: In landscape mode, the nearest US Bank branch and ATM locations are always displayed in the upper right corner (note 2).
  • Branding/advertising in front of login: Not everyone who downloads your app, is ready and/or able to login. Talk to them. Service them.
  • Full site access via button in right-hand column. 

What’s missing:

  • Simplified login: U.S. Bank’s table login is 25% harder than its desktop banking login. It uses full username and password. There’s no option to remember username. And unlike the desktop, where the curser is automatically positioned in the fields, tablet users must touch the empty box before typing.
  • Financial management/PFM: There is no ability to sort, annotate, or interact with the data in any way.
  • Chat: There is no way to interact in real time online.
  • Search: There is no way to search transactions or any other info.
  • Security assurances: No security section to assure users that it’s safe to bank via tablet.
  • Content (other than account info): There is little content outside bank account info and the ATM/branch locator. 
  • Visual interest: The app is attractive and functional. However, it’s fairly bland by iPad standards. Within the secure site, there are no photos, no interesting graphics, along with the aforementioned empty offers box.

Final grade: The app supports the brand, is easy to navigate and does a great job covering the important basics. Plus it has a few advanced features: offers, P2P payments, and remote deposit. Overall, I’ll give it an A-. Nice work. 

———————

U.S. Bank iPad app pre-login (2 May 2012)
Note: Graphical images promoting the bank and its remote deposit service

image

U.S. Bank iPad main "Accounts" page in landscape mode
Note: Empty "offers" box; link to full site; calculator in lower right

U.S. Bank iPad main "Accounts" page in landscape mode

U.S. Bank iPad main "Accounts" page in landscape mode
Note: Empty "offers" box

U.S. Bank iPad main "Accounts" page in landscape mode

———————

Notes:
1. I’m a long-time customer with six current accounts plus a closed home equity line.
2. While the map makes a nice visual, it doesn’t have much use for the 97% of the time the user is logging in to mobile banking from their home or work. So it might be too prominent. This is only an issue in landscape mode. In portrait mode, the map is not displayed.

Notifying Card Issuers that You Are Out of the Country

image We were lucky enough to take a quick trip to Europe this summer and one of the many rituals of modern travel is convincing your card issuers not to block international transactions. The conventional wisdom is to notify issuers in advance. While not an absolute necessity, it is said to improve your odds.

The process is very straightforward. All the bank needs is your travel dates and where you are visiting. However, it is tedious over the phone due to redundant authentication requirements.

Consequently, it’s an ideal service to automate with online, or even better, mobile form. I wrote about it the last time I traveled. But this time I put a clock on the process, just to see exactly how much time was wasted, for both the consumer and bank, on the phone. 

Summary: It took about 1 minute per card to register online at Capital One and Chase. Over the phone, it took 6.5 minutes at Wells Fargo and 9.5 at U.S. Bank. No one has it in their mobile app yet (see details below).   

I realize that online travel notifications are not a high priority these days. But, it’s such a win-win service, I wish more banks offered it. However, the real end game is to build automatic location notification into mobile-banking apps. Even if customers won’t agree to being tracked 24/7, there could be a button in the app that users press to submit their GPS location whenever they land in a new city or country. 

That gives customers total control, but makes it super easy for them to communicate. And it gives you a highly  secure method of knowing your customers are in the same location as their card. 
__________________________________________________________________________________

Capital One: Online — 2 minutes to register 2 cards (see screenshots in previous post)
__________________________________________________________________________________

Luckily, Capital One, my go-to card abroad with no international transaction fee, has an online form to do this. It’s not easy to find, but I’d written about it before so I knew roughly where to look. The form is a little convoluted; if traveling to multiple countries, you have to keep pressing “add another destination,” but it took less than a minute to add the five countries were we passing through.

I have Capital One personal and business cards which are integrated into the same online banking platform. But unfortunately, you have to do each card separately, so total time expended, including login, was about 2 minutes.

Capital One gets extra credit for sending me an email on my scheduled departure day asking me whether I needed anything and providing their international call-center instructions. _________________________________________________________________________________

Chase Bank: Online — less than 1 minute for 2 cards (see screenshot in previous post)
__________________________________________________________________________________

I couldn’t remember whether Chase had an online option, so I logged in, didn’t see it on the right-hand column of common links. So I went to customer service and found it on the list of available tasks. The form was super-easy; I could do both of my cards at once and just free-form input the countries. Total form-completion time was under 10 seconds, but if counting login and function-search, it took just under a minute. __________________________________________________________________________________

U.S. Bank: Phone: 9.5 minutes on phone + 2 minutes searching online for 1 debit card (with 2 different account numbers)
___________________________________________________________________________________

I first checked online to see if travel notifications had been added since the last time I checked. No such luck, so about 2 minutes were wasted. Because we needed ATM access abroad, we had to have this card working, so I reluctantly called the 800 number on a Friday evening, and was told that wait times were approx 4 minutes. I think they were only half that, but it still took me a full 9.5 minutes to get my ATM cards registered. About one minute of that was spent finding my wife’s debit card, which I now know has a different number than mine.

Why the agent couldn’t handle both ATM cards from a joint account without needing the other number is beyond me, but he insisted.

Total time expended was 2 minutes online and 9.5 on the phone: 11.5 minutes total.

Extra credit goes to the U.S. Bank agent who activated my new debit card that had recently come in the mail. My old card would have expired during the trip.  
___________________________________________________________________________________

Wells Fargo: Phone: 6.5 minutes on the phone + 2 minutes searching online for 1 card
___________________________________________________________________________________

My wife carries a Wells card at all times, so usually she handles travel notifications. But since I was already on a roll, I took on the task. Although I didn’t recall ever seeing it, I assumed Wells would have an online option, but after a search of the site, I found that my hunch was wrong and that I’d wasted a few minutes.

I called the 800 number and was able to complete the process in about 6.5 minutes. Much of that time was spent listening to menu choices and current balance info (which I didn’t want). Had I known how to skip through the menus, it would have taken only about 3 minutes. The agent was friendly and efficient, although she twice asked if she could also activate my debit card even though I don’t have a checking account there. But I appreciate that she was trying to be thorough. ___________________________________________________________________________________

Bank of America: Phone — 2 minutes, 0 cards
___________________________________________________________________________________

I was going to take my Bank of America card along, but after searching customer service I could not find an online form to complete, so I decided to leave it at home. Score 1 for the more online-savvy approach at its competitors.

U.S. Bank Launches Both PC and Mobile Remote Deposit

I was surprised to see the news release that U.S. Bank had upgraded its Firethorn-powered mobile banking app to include mobile remote deposit. I’ve been following the development of the bank’s PC-scanner-based remote deposit option which also launched yesterday, and I’d never seen the mobile option mentioned (previous post). 

True to form, when I logged in to my account online and clicked on the “Make a Deposit (New)” link, there was still no mention of the mobile option. However, I was greeted with the news that I was now eligible to use the bank’s new PC scanner-based program at a cost of $0.50 per deposit.

I went through the simple online enrollment process (see below), but didn’t test an actual deposit because I don’t have a scanner attached to my laptop.

Bottom line: Congratulations to US Bank for being the second major bank to support both mobile and PC-based consumer remote deposit, trailing just USAA which launched PC-remote deposit in Dec. 2006 and the mobile version in Aug. 2009. Chase also offers mobile consumer remote deposit (launched in July 2010)  but does not offer a consumer PC-based service.

________________________________________________________________________

How it works
________________________________________________________________________

1. Select “Make a Deposit” link on left

US Bank online deposit landing page (15 March 2011)

2. Enrollment
Users must enter their email address, agree to the terms, and answer the following three usage questions:

Enrollment questioinaire US Bank

3. Select “Get Started” on main deposit page

Main deposit page US Bank

4. Choose account to deposit to

Step 1: Choose account to deposit to at US Bank 

5. Enter check details

image

6. Error message requesting Java be downloaded

image

U.S. Bank Set to Launch Fee-Based Remote Deposit Capture for Retail Customers March 14

image Five months after we first spotted the link (see previous post, note 1), U.S. Bank is telling online banking users that they’ll be able to use the new PC-based, remote-deposit function on March 14. Customers will use standard all-in-one scanner/printers to submit checks.

The bank has decided to launch with a $0.50 per-item fee for retail customers. While I’m all for fees for value-adds, my response is mixed on this one.

The fee makes sense in many ways:

  • Value: The customer receives a very real time savings here, and many would burn that much in gas, driving over to a branch. So $0.50 sounds pretty reasonable.
  • Changing perceptions: It’s good to start weaning customers off the belief that every new feature is provided free of charge.
  • Fairness: Customers that use the service, pay for its costs. That’s fair pricing for everyone.
  • Optional: No one has to use the service; there are acceptable free (branch, ATM) or lower-cost (mail) alternatives for most customers.

But here’s what’s bothering me about it: 

  • Sends the wrong message about self-service: If the bank starts charging a dollar or even fifty cents to deposit an item in the branch, then the online fee makes perfect sense. But if the same service is free in the branch, I think it sends the wrong message to online users.
  • Discourages trial: For nearly all potential customers, this is new and unproven technology. They at least need a free trial to get a feel for it.
  • Is it worth the trouble? If U.S. Bank gets 50,000 items remotely deposited per month, the bank nets $300,000 per year in fee income. Would a free service save more than that in labor, while introducing the timesaver to far more customers, perhaps even driving some new accounts?

Bottom line: While it will cut usage dramatically, a fee makes sense if you want to add a new feature without increasing bank costs. And evidently, U.S. Bank doesn’t believe the higher number of deposits garnered by a free service would save enough labor to overcome the lost fee revenue. So the pros must outweigh the cons.

Nevertheless, I’d prefer to see remote deposit bundled together with several other value-added features for a small monthly fee, e.g., $2.95 for a “power user” electronic account.  

Kudos to U.S. Bank for making remote deposit available to retail customers. I look forward to trying it, but given how much trouble I’ve had with my all-in-one scanner over the years, I am much more likely to become an active user of a smartphone version. 

U.S. Bank’s Make a Deposit page inside the secure online banking area (20 Feb. 2011)

U.S. Bank's Make a Deposit page inside the secure online banking area (20 Feb 2011)

————————————-

Note:
1. The service has been piloted in several states, so I’m assuming that’s why it’s been on the menu.

US Bank Adds Remote Deposit Capture to Online Banking Menu

imageI saw a new option today when I logged in to my U.S. Bank account:

Make a Deposit

Clicking on the link brings up a screen (see below) promising that DepositPoint, a desktop-scanner-based service, is “Coming Soon!”

From the little info provided, I can see that it’s targeted to home users using existing equipment (all-in-one printer/scanners) and allows checks to be deposited through 6 PM central time for (I assume) same-day credit.

The webpage shown below is the only info available. There’s nothing posted on pricing, when it will launch, or other terms and conditions. And a search for “depositpoint” on the main website comes up empty. Interested customers are asked to “please stay tuned to this page for more exciting information!” While not exactly state-of-the-art lead capture, at least the bank is getting the word out (note 1).

In other news, PayPal moved one step closer to becoming a bank/credit union replacement with the revelation that it will add remote deposit capture to its iPhone app later this year.

U.S. Bank online banking primary navigation (16 August 2010)

image 

Note:
1. I’m putting this in the footnote since it’s not the focus of this post. But seriously, U.S. Bank, this is the best you could come up with from a design and copywriting standpoint? It looks like a webpage from 1996. All that’s missing is the “under construction” sign. How about some color? Graphics? Links to an FAQ? This is a great development, but the customers drawn to this page from the “NEW” button are unlikely to be impressed.

Debit Card Overdraft Protection: 2 Steps Forward, 1.9 Back

image So far, I’m underwhelmed with the industry’s online marketing response to the new opt-in debit card OD protection regulations. I expected to see new pricing models transforming small overdrafts into a value-add for debit card users, rather than the onerous penalty they had become over the past few years.

On the positive side, the elimination of OD charges for small transactions is a good first step. Three of the five FIs in our mini-survey have dropped fees on ODs of less than $5 (PNC and GTE Federal) or $10 (U.S. Bank). And Wells even makes a bit of a game out of it: Customers who cover the OD during the same day incur no fee.

And Bank of America has just thrown in the towel on the whole notion, running full-page ads (p. A11 in today’s WSJ; Overdraft Control landing page) saying they’ll just deny any attempt to overdraw via debit card. The retail giant joins Citibank and ING Direct, which already followed the same approach.

But financial institutions are missing an opportunity here. Take Wells Fargo, for example. When I ran across the bank’s new homepage ad for debit card OD protection (see first screenshot), I expected to click through and find a novel take on the new federally mandated opt-in requirement (see second screenshot).

Wells does a good job explaining how the new rules benefit customers (the two steps forward): 

  • The bank’s website copy is understandable and nicely outlines the lower-cost credit line, and savings account transfer options are offered
  • The toll-free number to sign up is prominent, although where’s the online signup option? 
  • Great to see online and mobile balance-tracking tools offered up to help avoid overdrafts in the first place
  • My favorite: Customers are allowed to cover the overdraft during the same day and avoid the charge

But much of that uptick in consumer goodwill is negated when you get to the pricing:

  • Debit card overdrafts are $35 each, with a maximum of 4 per day, or a $140 daily penalty if you opt in and make a mistake coffee-shop (or more likely bar-) hopping some weekend.

In a spot check of other financial institutions, it’s clear that Wells Fargo is far from alone in the $30 per item price range:

  • US Bank will charge $10 per overdraft of $20 or less and $33 for all others; it will charge for up to 3 ODs and 3 returned items for up to 6 per day; there’s a $25 fee if you don’t pay back within a week, but no charge for any item that results in less than $10 in total negative balance.
  • Fifth Third Bank will charge $25 for the first overdraft each year, $33 for the next three, then $37 each after that; maximum of 10 per day; $8 per day after the third day it’s not paid back; no OD charge if negative balance is $5 or less.
  • PNC Bank charges $36 per item up to 4 per day, plus $7/day the account is overdrawn for a maximum of 14 days.
  • GTE Federal Credit Union is charging $29 each, with no charge on under-$5 items (blog post, Facebook post)

I just don’t see customers being too pleased with the price/value here. Wouldn’t customers, and shareholders, be better served with a value-based pricing strategy? How about $5 each for an under-$100 mistake? Or follow the telecom model and sell debit card overdraft protection as a $4.95/mo subscription.

By my simple math, a million customers paying $5/mo is a whole lot more revenue than a few thousand paying $35 a pop. Then there are all the side benefits: customer goodwill, reduced customer service headaches, positive word-of-mouth, and the PR/marketing value of making debit overdrafts into a real service.

Debit card OD link on Wells Fargo homepage (13 July 2010)

Wells Fargo homepage showing debit card OD ad

Landing page (link)
Click to enlarge

Wells Fargo debit overdraft landing page

image Note: Upper-right graphic from Horizons North Credit Union, which is charging $25 per item, with no limit on the number. The opt-in ad is a huge part of its current homepage (inset, click to enlarge).

U.S. Bank Previews Website Redesign

image Although U.S. Bank has long held a state-of-the-art online banking design, its homepage and public website haven’t kept up with modern standards. From the looks of the preview unveiled earlier this week, that will change when the bank rolls out on Friday a major site redesign.

The bank is wisely inviting online banking customers to take an advance peek at the new site. I learned about it Monday via a splash screen after logging in to online banking (see first screenshot below). The preview is also featured in the upper-left of the current homepage (see second screenshot below).

U.S. Bank is one of the last big banks still using a homepage dominated by a list of products and services. Presumably, the bank will move to flyout menus on the tabs across the top of the page (see third screenshot). Another expected improvement: liquid display.  

For existing online banking customers, the biggest change is the repositioning of the login box from the middle-right to the upper-left, the industry standard.

Lessons: It’s important to give online customers advance notice of login changes so they  don’t think they’ve arrived at a fake site. In fact, I think U.S. Bank should have gone further and simply included the preview in the splash page so everyone was forced to see it. Or at least the bank should have a prominent link to the preview within online banking. As it stands now, once you skip past the splash screen, there is no way back to look at the redesign (other than going to the homepage).    

Login interstitial ad announcing the coming redesign (12 April 2010)

image

Before: current site
Notes:
1. Upper-left announcement of coming site redesign, with link to preview shown above
2. Login box placed in non-standard location mid-page on the right

image

After: Preview of new site design coming April 16 (link)

image

How Measly Online Banking Archives Almost Cost Us $300

image One of my least favorite tasks as a business owner is filling out forms, and tax forms are the worst of the lot. Thankfully, Washington state has a relatively simple online form that I can complete at literally the last minute of the quarterly filing period.

So last week, with the midnight deadline looming, I went to download the previous quarter’s transactions into our accounting software. After doing so, I noticed a six-week gap in the data. Because of timing issues, it had been 130 days since I’d last downloaded. Guess what? My bank archives only 90 days of data for Microsoft Money users (note 1).

So, I went online and figured I’d retrieve the older transaction there. No luck. Again, only 90 days of past data are visible in online banking. Next, I tried the data-download function. Nope, same 90-day limit. Now realizing that I’d have to hand-key the data, I was getting frustrated, but I figured I could at least view my April and May statements online. Strike 4. My bank doesn’t post any estatements online UNLESS you’ve previously given up your paper statement.

So I had to paw through my paper piles to find the missing statements, then spend a half-hour hand-entering business transactions. Boy, did I feel like a fool. Luckily, I’d started the process earlier than usual and made the midnight deadline; otherwise, the lack of data archives would have cost me more than $300 in city and state penalties.

Fee opportunity for banks
Had I been a perfect customer and remembered to download my data within the 90-day window, this wouldn’t have happened. But really, now that you can buy a 1TB (1000MB) hard drive for $79, how can a bank justify a measly 3-month archive, especially for business clients? Even factoring in security costs, backup sites and other expenses, what is the marginal cost to store 18 months of transaction data? A buck per year? Probably more like a dime or less (note 2).

It no longer makes sense to arbitrarily limit online data archives. Put a price on it and let your customers decide how long they want to store their data. Many small business customers would pay $1 to $2 per month per year of back archives. Interested consumers might pay half that, e.g., $3 to $5 per month for a 7-year archive.

It can also be used a perk for going paperless. For example, Chase Bank offers seven years of online statements for its customers (see screenshot below); otherwise, users can access only the last 18 months online.

Finally, it’s one of the most cost-effective retention tools imaginable (note 3).

Chase Bank promotes the benefits of going paperless to its online banking users (1 Sep 2009)

image

Notes:
1. The lack of past data is especially annoying since I pay $5.95/mo for the data download service.
2. I do understand that increasing online archives is not a simple project. And even though storage costs are relatively minimal, the PROJECT costs, are certainly not. I’m sure it’s a multi-million effort that’s difficult to justify in an era where regulatory mandates eat up IT budgets like a power surge gobbling data. 
3. For more info on estatements, refer to our Online Banking Report on Lifetime Statement Archives (June 2005) and Electronic Messaging & Statements (Feb 2003).

U.S. Bank Integrates Self-Service Collection Module into Online Banking

image One benefit of running a financial services publication is that my own financial mistakes can be used for editorial material. My latest faux pas resulted in learning first-hand about U.S. Bank’s self-service collection module integrated into online banking.  

The details: Apparently, last month I hit negative $300 in my business checking account during some intra-day moment. The daily closing balances never fell below a healthy balance, so I didn’t realize an automatic “overdraft” transfer from our credit line had occurred (note 1). 

Since I assumed it was unused, I never looked at the credit line statement, and therefore neglected to pay it off or make the minimum payment. Then yesterday, when I went online to pay a bill, I noticed a new line item on my account ledger, Payment Assistance Options (see first screenshot below). I know that if my bank is offering to assist me with my payment, I’m in deep trouble.

I followed the link to where a well laid-out module took me through my options to pay back the delinquent loan (see screenshots 2 and 3). I paid off the $300 plus an extra $39 for the late fee, $3 for the overdraft fee, and a $2.79 finance charge. That’s $44.79 in penalty fees, pretty expensive for a 42-day $300 loan (note 1), but low cost for a blog entry.

Bottom line: The self-service collection module is a good addition to online banking and should save the bank costs in routine collection efforts where the user simply forgot to make a payment. Even though I hated the $39 late fee, I’m glad the delinquency didn’t progress further until it landed on my credit report.

1. US Bank main account management page showing collection function (29 July 2009)

image

image

2. Landing page outlining collection options

image

3. Promise to pay page
Note: Can pay by Web, mail, express mail,

image 

Note:
1. Yes, closer monitoring of our checking account transaction register would have identified the transfer. But like many business owners, I prefer to spend time in other areas of the business.

New Online Banking Report Published: Selling Behind the Password

image

We just posted our latest Online Banking Report.
It will be mailed to subscribers tomorrow. It’s also available online here. There’s no charge for current subscribers; others may access it immediately
for US$395.

———————————————————

Selling Behind the Password
Unlocking the marketing potential within
online banking

48 pages (published 21 April, 2009)

In this report (abstract), we go behind the login screen and report on the marketing and cross-selling practices of 15 financial institutions and card issuers.

Even among large banks, there’s a huge disparity in the amount of cross-selling efforts within online banking. Wells Fargo is the most prolific, with nine marketing messages and product placements alone on its main account-management page. The bank also uses login and logoff activities to display promotions (see screenshot below). On the other hand, US Bank has just a single link to an “offers page” buried below the fold. Most FIs fall somewhere in between.

We looked at the opportunities within six different areas:

  • Interstitial pages (splash screen) inserted after performing any online activity, especially after the initial login.
  • Banner and keyword promotions within the secure online banking area
  • Product placement within online banking and bill pay
  • Transactional upgrades
  • Page displayed after an online banking session has concluded (either through logout or inactivity)
  • Product/shopping/discount portals and third-party ads

The following financial companies were analyzed by logging in to actual accounts and documenting their sales and marketing efforts:

  • American Express business gold
  • Bank of America online banking
  • Chase credit card
  • Citibank business card
  • Citibank online banking
  • Discover Card
  • Everbank
  • First Tech Credit Union
  • ING Direct
  • Jwaala (demo only)
  • Mint
  • Netflix (non-financial)
  • PayPal
  • Revolution Money
  • US Bank
  • WaMu
  • Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo promotion displayed after logging out from online banking
(27 March 2009)

clip_image002

Money Link from the University of Wisconsin Credit Union Makes Electronic Transfers Simple (like they should be)

imageFinancial institutions vary considerably in how easy they make it to move money in and out of bank accounts.

On the one extreme is U.S. Bank, which still requires a retail customers to visit a branch to initiate an electronic payment (note 1). Plus, if you come in after the wire transfer deadline, 2 PM I believe, you can set it up to go out the next day, but you still have to call back and reconfirm before 2 PM the following day. When asked why they needed a phone call after I’ve already appeared in person, shown my ID, and signed multiple documents authorizing the transfer, they responded in all seriousness, “to make sure you are still alive.”

image Then there’s University of Wisconsin Credit Union, who not only assumes its members are alive, but also wants to keep them satisfied.

The credit union’s novel Money Link service allows anyone to send money to a UW CU member via an email-enabled system similar to PayPal but free of any fees and branded by the CU. The service can also be accessed via UW CU’s mobile banking. 

Transfers from outsiders take 3-4 days for the ACH items to clear. But member-to-member transfers occur in real time. It’s a great way for students to get money from mom and dad in time to thwart that Monday morning overdraft.

image The CU also supports full inter-institutional account-to-account transfers online. There is no cost to move money into UW CU, but there is a $2 fee for outgoing transfers.

Members who can’t wait for the 3 to 4 days for an ACH to clear, can elect the the Express Service that offers one-day turnaround for $10. The Express service has a $2,000 limit where the Standard Service can be used up to $10,000 (see inset).

Bottom line: This is the type of transfer service most consumers expect from their bank or credit union. It’s amazing that it’s still not supported at many financial institutions, including some of the majors.

Note:
1. Referring to wire transfers here initiated in the Seattle area. There could be other procedures in other areas of the bank’s footprint. Also, customers can CheckFree-powered online bill pay to pay any U.S. resident or business within 5 days.