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Mobile Fees: BillGuard Goes Freemium with Integrated Credit Monitoring

 

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We are always on the lookout for digital fee-income opportunities. And if I got a nickel for every one of them I’ve ever found … I’d have about a buck at this point. Fees in U.S. online banking are rarer than the (not-so) mythical fintech unicorn. And mobile banking fees are pretty much non-existent outside a few remote deposit fees (see previous post).

billguard_main_newBut last week BillGuard demonstrated a promising new avenue for incremental fee income: Integrated mobile identity-theft alerts, resolution and insurance (see inset). Actual credit report access is not included, but BillGuard says that it is coming soon. The service is mobile only, and the company currently has no plans to add it to the desktop version.

The credit and fraud monitoring is powered by CSIdentity (CSID), an Austin-based firm that says it powers 80% of the retail identity-theft-protection industry. The company, founded in 2006, has raised $36 million in equity (mostly in 2010) and $6 million in debt.

What it costs
The service is value-priced, at $2.99/mo for the single bureau Pro version or $6.99/mo for the 3-bureau Ultimate. In comparison, most ID-protection services are in the $15 to $20/mo range (Experian charges $15.95/mo for a private-labeled version called ProtectMyID with BillGuard). Founder Yaron Samid says BillGuard provides essentially the same third-party monitoring as the $30/mo offering from Lifelock for one-fourth the cost. And with BillGuard, users get credit/debit card transaction monitoring (powered by Yodlee) for free.

BillGuard premium benefits:

  • Credit bureau monitoring (3 bureaus in Ultimate service, 1 in Pro service)
  • Identity restoration services (via call center help)
  • 24/7 call center support
  • Lost wallet recovery
  • Social Security Number fraud alerts (Ultimate service only)
  • Black market alerts (Ultimate only)
  • $1 million insurance (Ultimate only)

Cardholders are already looking to their smartphones to stay informed of problems in real-time (case in point, BofA just integrated fraud alerts into its mobile app). So it makes sense to deliver extra protections services in-app. Although there is stiff competition from free ad-supported versions such as Credit Karma, we believe integrated protection services are a logical fee-based upgrade for mobile banking customers.

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Screenshots

BillGuard iOS app homescreen includes a pitch for its premium ID protection (17 June 2015)

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An actual fraud alert I received after signup for BillGuard Ultimate (19 June 2015)
Note: It was from a breach in November 2013. I assume I received the alert this week since I was a new customer.

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