These are worrying times for people across Europe as the euro lurches towards another crisis, with leaders talking openly about the possibility of Greece leaving the euro and reports of customers starting to withdraw deposits from banks in Greece and Bankia in Spain.
It's easy to feel powerless in the face of such powerful forces, but fundamentally the repeated euro crises are about two things: debt and confidence. Lots of individuals, small companies, banks and governments across Europe have a large amount of debt, and lenders -- depositors, investors and other banks -- aren't completely confident that all of them will be able to pay it back. It's critical to avoid a vicious spiral of declining confidence that will harm Europe's economic prospects and the livelihoods of its peoples.
What can bank eBusiness executives do about it? Remember that you control two of your bank's critical communication channels: the website and email. Use them to reassure customers. How?
Help customers understand what the crisis is about. Banks aren't just about products. Your purpose is to help customers manage their money. Help your customers understand the causes of the crisis and the reality of the hard choices facing Europe. Nobody likes realizing that they are poorer than they thought they were. Without getting political, help customers understand the situation and what it means to them.
Spell out why your firm is safe. My bank emailed me on Thursday to remind me that it's covered by the British government's Financial Services Compenstation Scheme, covering up to £85,000. Put a similar message on your home page and onto the secure site, where online banking customers are most likely to see it.
I attended Finovatethis week to get a preview of new financial services digital technology vendors. I say preview because if you have ever been to Finovate, you know it’s a little like speed dating, where 63 vendors have 7 minutes each to show you their best moves. The themes at Finovate this year were not much different as previous years with the focus being on mobile banking, personal financial management, and payments. However, this year, a few new topics emerged: rewards, coupons, and mobile banking services for Pre-Paid Visas customers. Apparently, Pre-Paid Visas are the new black.
While there was plenty of interesting and innovative demonstrations, Forrester attended the conference to identify trends and solutions relevant for our retail digital financial services clients. Specifically, we looked at innovative solutions for our clients related to mobile banking, personal financial management, and payments. The following vendors stood out as innovative solutions for mobile banking, personal financial management, and payments:
DWOLLAis a next-generation social, mobile and online payment network. Its financial service product, FiSynch, integrates its technology into financial institutions.
IP Commercesolves the development challenge of multi-payer acceptance and multi-payee disbursement
iQuantifiprovides users with automated and personalized financial advice online
Money Desktopoffers the next generation of personal financial management. Its slick design makes excellent use of the native app features.
Last week I visited the Dutch SNS Bank because it has an interesting story to tell. It is one of the few banks that have radically changed their behavior toward digital channels. Instead of reasoning, like the majority of banks are doing, that the Internet is about adding another sales channel in addition to branches, SNS Bank has changed its way of thinking fundamentally: "We are an Internet bank with shops that are an outbound extension of our Internet value proposition." The bank understood two things: 1) The digital revolution is not only limited to the younger, tech-savvy generations, and 2) digital is affecting every aspect of the banking operation regarding product and processes. I haven't seen many retail banks that truly sense the pace of digital change. As always, financial services companies don't necessarily feel the sense of urgency to make radical changes in their distribution methods. A lot of times, we see an attitude like "OK, let's try digital and see what happens, and if it proves itself after one year we have plenty of time and our pockets are deep enough, to respond." This might not be true in the coming years. In a time where digital touch points are growing quickly, this attitude won't work and companies have to make the adjustments earlier and faster. It's good to see that some banks are appointing mobile directors of heads of digital channels; this illustrates that they take digital seriously. In our latest report, Trends 2012: European Retail Banking eBusiness And Channel