Monitise’s Acquisition Of Clairmail Highlights The Future Of Mobile Banking

Monitise announced today that it acquired Clairmail,  in the United States in a deal that values Clairmail at $173 million. Mobile banking is a large growth market in both the US and Canada with recent Forrester data showing that 17% of US online adults are now mobile bankers. So why does this move make sense?  Forrester believes that acquisitions like this are inevitable because:

  • The future of mobile banking is payments.The first wave of mobile banking was getting the basics down including basic functionality like balances, transactions, and location services as well as mobile endpoints like mobile web, apps and SMS. The second wave which has already begun is focused almost exclusively on payments and money movement. Person-to-person and interbank transfers are just the beginning.
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Yet Another Dumb Move By A Bank

Until a few months ago Bank of America won the “Best In Biting The Hand That Feeds You” Award when it initiated its $5 debit card fee increase. Citibank may have trumped that in January when it decided that frequent flier miles that it gave away as promotional bonuses in exchange for getting customers to sign up for a new bank account was taxable income that needed to be reported to the IRS.  The absurdity of this move is so large it’s not even measurable.  Because if they pull this off, they will solidify a position as an anti-customer bank at a time when banks could use some customer love, but worse they threaten to kill the single most effective tactic in the entire marketing industry: the promotion. By giving away a gift in return for a customer’s patronage, and then calling it taxable income, this is the ultimate string attached. Does this mean free ice cream at Ben & Jerry's on their customer appreciation day is taxable? What about upgrades airlines sometimes give for free on flights? Or the eyeglasses that is giving away for free?  Most of the time your social security number isn’t captured, so there isn't an easy means to report any promotion or gift to the IRS, but let’s hope we never get to the day where we do have to give away such information in order to take advantage of a promotion. How anyone at Citi could have thought this was a good idea (and not making very clear the taxation consequences) is baffling. Marketing freebies are aimed at getting new customers or retaining existing

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The Age Of The Customer Drives Four Insurance eBusiness Mega-Trends In 2012

This year, North American insurers overall are pretty darn happy. For starters, there clear signs that the economy is finally starting to gain steam, premiums are on the rise, the market’s firming, and the political will may well shift enough to revisit past regulatory reforms, particularly those that impact health insurers.  And these factors are coalescing into the new strategies for 2012.  In our “Trends 2012: North American Insurance eBusiness And Channel Strategy”, we discuss what factors are driving insurance ebusiness teams to:

  1. Become obsessed about their customers
  2. Get serious about how to collaborate better with their agents
  3. Focus on the infrastructure that supports the digital business
  4. Refine their thinking about what eBusiness means to the insurance ecosystem
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Order Management Has Become A Strategic Commerce Capability

Over the last few years we have seen a shift in client requirements. Commerce solution programs and eCommerce platform projects have begun to reflect a change in how companies are beginning to do business, and in next generation capability needs they have that encompass:

  • Managing orders across a diverse set of customer touchpoints. It is no longer just about the web. Today’s eBusiness is taking orders through the web, through the mobile web, through mobile apps, through marketplaces, through the contact center, and increasingly through mobile POS, sales force enablement tools, and self-service kiosks. A single order pipeline, enabled through APIs and integration tools will enable consistent order processing with security and control.
  • Enabling complex fulfillment and supply chain scenarios. No longer are orders going to be fulfilled from a single fulfillment center (FC). Tomorrow's orders will be sourced from a wide variety of locations that include that FC, but also include vendor drop-shippers, distributors, stores, and third-party logistics providers who may either regionally stage high-demand products or support seasonal inventory volumes, or both. Business logic and real-time decisioning is critical to driving a high quality consumer experience and a profitable order. The benefits here are multiple, including lower transportation costs and faster time to delivery.
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Ten North American Retail Banking eBusiness And Channel Strategy Trends To Watch In 2012

A trio of factors — mobile devices, regulations, and payments — have changed the retail banking landscape. These factors have driven retail banking firms to adjust business plans to explore new channels, uncover new sources of revenue, and understand potential threats. eBusiness and channel strategy professionals must understand not only these trends but also their impact on how they run and orchestrate channels. I have recently released my report on current industry trends and specifically how those trends are impacting on eBusiness and channel strategy professionals, channel priorities, and 2012 growth opportunities. Here is my high level take on today's trends:

  • Regulations, mobile devices, and payments are changing retail banking. Three macroeconomic and technology trends are changing retail banking. The results for channel professionals are a focus on revenue generation, changing channel models, and payment innovation.
  • Branches are changing, driven by consumer trends and technology. The branches are undergoing big changes, driven by changes in consumers' channel preferences and technology. The result will be specialized sales and revenue-generating branches as well as branches that use digital technologies in multiple aspects of the business.
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The Insurance Broker is dead! Long live the insurance Broker!

Is there still room for insurance brokers in the fast digitalizing world of insurance? Are they the important filter, and closest to your customer, that brings you the right type of business or are they the greedy commission driven sales persons who are more interested in selling products than providing the right solutions for your customers? Independent advice and added value should be their trademark but are they are living up to that expectation?

Moreover, miss-selling practices in countries like the UK and the Netherlands really put the pressure on them. The regulators and insurance companies - driven by the need for transparency- have forced brokers in many cases to go from a commission based model to a fee based model.  In the Netherlands, the former market leader Nationale-Nederlanden (part of ING Group) was taken hostage for many decades by the brokers. They were threatened to lose business if they would turn to a multichannel strategy. A few months ago (and many years of back log on this multi channel strategy, later) Nationale –Nederlanden announced its multi channel strategy after all. Is this courage, desperation or the only right thing to do? Of course, the latter and I think it is the only way to go for every financial services company. Too many eBusiness and channel strategy executives out there are still struggling with this important issue and related topics as cannibalism and dual pricing attached to it.

Our research shows that even though internet-savvy Gen Y consumers (ages 24-35) are using multiple touch points in their customer journeys when they research or buy a product, guess what, brokers still remain a valuable part of these journeys but only if they provide added value in the research or sales process.

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SEO Should Be Top Of Mind For Financial Service eBiz Professionals (And Not For The Reason You'd Think)

On Wednesday of last week, I had a chance to sit down with Seth Besmertnik, CEO of Conductor. Conductor is a search engine optimization (SEO) analytics vendor that provides a software solution that analyzes, reports, and recommends changes to a website based on third-party search engine data (e.g., Google).

The conversation was enlightening to me from many different perspectives. Previously, I had assumed that SEO was the realm of interactive marketers as evidenced by reports from my colleagues in the space. As Seth and I spoke, I soon realized I was dead wrong. SEO may be driven by interactive marketers but success in the area is highly reliant upon folks in eBusiness that build websites. Additionally, better websites can be built using insights drawn from SEO analysis. Here’s why:

  • Search is first step in the acquisition process for many financial service purchases. 52% of US online consumers who research a financial product online started at a search engine, and that was nearly five years ago. Today, that percentage has surely increased with the increasing number of online researchers. For products like credit card, the percentage of online researchers is more than a third of researchers overall.
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Learn From Your Peers And Forrester Analysts

Springtime in London will bring the Forrester eBusiness and Channel Strategy Summit (May 23).  The event will focus on how progressive organizations are actually executing effectively in serving their customers across a complex array of touchpoints.  In particular, we'll spend a good deal of time talking about the impact mobile is having on how we all effectively serve customers.  Julie Ask will lead us off on that topic from her vast knowledge in the mobile space.  She and Thomas Husson recently published their much-read Mobile Trends assessment for this year — great read. 

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Some Thoughts On FiftyOne's Acquisition Of Borderfree

FiftyOne, the company that provides globalization and international logistics services to US-based online retailers such as Gap, Pottery Barn, and Crate & Barrel, announced today that it is acquiring Canada Post’s Borderfree unit. Borderfree, one of the first organizations to play a role in driving cross-border eCommerce, carved out a niche for itself helping US online retailers target online shoppers in Canada.  

A few observations:

The acquisition does not disrupt the landscape of solution providers. With this acquisition, FiftyOne boosts its Canadian offerings and takes a small competitor out of the market, but the acquisition does not counter any direct threat from another solution provider in the space. Other providers tend to focus on different market segments, for example, International Checkout counts hundreds of clients in the SMB space, while BorderJump focuses on Latin America and the Caribbean (For an outline of different vendors, clients can read our 2011 report on Using International Shipping To Reach Online Shoppers Around The Globe). Today FiftyOne does not face another rival with the same roster of large clients.

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