If you've been reading this blog for long, you know I'm going through a "mobile" phase. There's two reasons for that:
1. It's an interesting and important extension to online banking, our core area of expertise.
2. I am in the process of writing two extensive reports on the subject, the first was published a few weeks ago on mobile banking (link here) and the second is due out by the end of the month on mobile payments.
So I had to laugh when I opened by Wells Fargo credit card bill today, not at the size of the bill which was not at all funny, but at the insert that fell out pitching, "cellular phone protection at no cost" (see front of insert right, back of insert below).
This is a different type of "mobile payment" than what I've been thinking about lately. But, this Wells Fargo program is brilliant, and has a much better business case, at least in the short term.
Here's what Wells Fargo is proposing:
1. Put your mobile phone bill on automatic payment via your Wells credit card.
2. In the event your phone is damaged or stolen, you will be reimbursed for up to $100 in damages, after a $50 deductible (see note 1).
The business case for this program looks fabulous. Assuming an average mobile phone bill of $60/mo x 12 months x 1.5% ROA = about $10 per year in revenue. While the cost should be just a few pennies per year in insurance payouts, given the difficulty in filing a claim.
Even though the bank will pay out benefits to cardholders who had their cellphone charged to Wells even without the incentive, the bank should earn 10x to 20x the cost of the program each year. Maybe Wells can put some of that windfall into a new mobile access to online banking and credit card info.
1. To keep costs down, the maximum number of claims is two per 12-month period, $200 in total. And the claim procedure is cumbersome, especially for a maximum payout of $100. You'll need copy of receipts, statements, other insurance coverage, police reports, and so on. The full details of the fine print are online here.