The Truth about ID Theft from Javelin Strategy

Judging by media reports, almost everyone in the civilized world has lost their identity to cyber-criminals. But while there has been an unending torrent of news about data breaches and related identity thefts, the damage has been much less drastic than that, says a study from Javelin Strategy & Research.

“The impression in the general public is that identity fraud is spiraling out of control, but what we came away with is the contrary; the growth [in the phenomenon] has been contained,” says Rubina Johannes, the Javelin research analyst who wrote the report.

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Credit Card Portfolios: More Pressure, Less Profitability.

Graph_debit_credit_heqPeople have grown wary of credit cards. They’re paying them off faster; generally, debit cards are edging them out as payment vehicles. And at least for now, home equity loans are increasingly more popular than credit cards among consumers (click on inset for more details and see tables below).

The result? Credit card portfolios are losing profitability, even though net losses and delinquencies are down, and serious questions about the industry’s future are surfacing. So are questions about how wise banks were when they snapped up most of the monoline credit card operations last year. The business model needs an overhaul, says observers, but so far, issuers are just changing the oil. And there may be no way out.

Continue reading “Credit Card Portfolios: More Pressure, Less Profitability.”

Data Security Standards Set by Major Financial Institutions

A consortium of six major banks and the country’s largest accounting firms said Wednesday that they were setting uniform computer-security standards, designed to ensure that the third-party computer providers they do business with are adequately protecting both their computer systems and the information those financial firms send them.

“This is good news,” says Avivah Litan, vice president and research director of Gartner Inc. “I don’t think it goes far enough, but it’s smart for them [the institutions] to do it in steps, if that’s what they’re doing. But they need to do it beyond the service providers. They need to do it themselves”

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First Brochure Focused on a Single Online Banking Feature

Wells_fargo_my_spending_reportTen years after becoming the first bank in the world to post customer statement data on a website, Wells Fargo’s in-branch collateral shows just how far the online banking industry has matured.

Instead of putting a generic online banking brochure in the branch, which would hardly get a second look these days, at least in our Seattle neighborhood, the bank has created an entire take-one brochure showcasing its innovate new feature My Spending Report that we looked at Feb. 17.

The My Spending Report brochure is a statement-stuffer sized 4-panel, 4-color creation printed 2/05 and entitled:

Look at your finances in a new way.

Also on the cover:

Introducing My Spending Report, exclusively from Wells Fargo.   

Inside, the left panel explains the spending report and cross sells credit and debit cards with an umbrella program called, The SmartSpender Plan, which includes:

  • My Spending Report
  • WellsProtect fraud protection
  • Wells Fargo Rewards on select card accounts

The right panel shows a screenshot of the report depicting checking, debit card, credit card, and bill payment activity.

Update on Website slacking
In February, we were critical of the bank for announcing a new feature that had no visibility on its website. That has been corrected. Now the first result for a a search for "My Spending Report" links users to this explanatory page.   


Wells Fargo’s Remote Deposit Capture

Last year, NetBank was one of the first banks to talk about allowing business customers to deposit checks directly via scanner, so called remote image capture or remote deposit capture.   

Bony_remote_depositNetBank has yet to go live, but several others have including: First Tennessee (the first to go live in March 2004), Bank of New York (announced 08 Nov 2004, see inset), HSBC (announced 08 Nov 2004), Wachovia (announced 13 Dec 2004), BB&T (announced 10 March 2005, live 01 April 2005).

Also, know to be implementing or testing: PNC, E*Trade Bank, Bank of America, LaSalle Bank, JPMorgan, BB&T, Mellon, Citibank, Key Bank, Zions, and Glenview State Bank (IL).

Now you can add Wells Fargo to that list.

Last week, the online banking pioneer announced its extremely well named remote deposit capture service, Desktop Deposit. The service allows businesses to scan checks into their PCs using a USB device from the bank. No word yet on pricing and availability.

Remote deposit capture, either at the customer's PC or at a scanner-equipped ATM, has the potential to negate one of the branches last roles, check cashing. It could be especially appealing to small businesses who benefit from the obvious time savings (no more trip to the bank) and better cash flow (no stashing checks away until the weekly bank run).

But the more important benefit to businesses are the improved record keeping and easier resolution of billing disputes. Images of deposited items are available immediately online and can be easily searched, retrieved, and forwarded, should a question arise later. Finally, the business retains the original paper item for a back-up paper trail.

And given the large value to the business, banks should be able to increase checking account and/or online banking fees for remote-capture clients, thus profiting from a process that wrings paper checks out of the system.   




“My Spending Report” from Wells Fargo

2005 is off to an innovative start, first the launch of Billeo, a toolbar-based bill payment manager. Now, Wells Fargo puts a little sizzle into its online banking steak, with a preformatted spending report, ala Quicken, appropriately named, My Spending Report.

The bank's press release says its patent-pending, which we can only hope is a marketing gimmick.

Here's how the bank describes the service:

…combines spending transactions from a customer's check card, credit card, checking account and bill pay in one convenient place, accessed through a secured, online banking session and updated automatically each day. Electronic and bill payment transactions are organized by familiar categories such as gas/automotive, groceries, ATM withdrawals, etc.

We will see more and more innovations around data delivery as banks try to differentiate their online services and add value. The stream of banking data available online is begging to be organized, analyzed, flagged, and reported.

Quicken has been doing it for 20 years, but it's more appealing to many users, especially younger ones, to integrate personal financial management right into banking websites.

Slightly Off-Topic Rant
Despite a well-crafted press release, don't bother visiting Wells Fargo's website today to learn more about My Spending Report. Not only is there no homepage link, the site-search function contains no relevant links either. So much for integrating PR with your website.


If you'd like to learn more about the how personal finance functionality is penetrating online banking, check out Personal Finance Features for Online Banking: Why “My Spending Report” trumps free bill pay on the subject from our sister publication, the Online Banking Report.