Finovate Europe 2015: Execution Is Harder Than Idea Generation

Finovate EuropeI spent Tuesday and Wednesday of this week at Finovate Europe. As always, it is a great way to spend two days thinking about digital financial innovation and how firms can deliver better experiences for their customers. Here are a few of my impressions from the two days:

  • Biometrics is becoming mainstream.We barely raise an eyebrow when shown authentication processes by firms like eBankIT, ID Mission, Jumio, Nice Systems and Wipro that use facial recognition, fingerprints or voice recognition because these technologies now seem almost commonplace. Yet the technologies are hugely impressive and far advanced on what was available or even possible a decade ago.
  • Future generations will pay differently. The credit card is one of the greatest financial innovations of all time. Yet, despite the various card innovations on show, I cannot rid myself of the belief that plastic cards will one day soon start to seem as quaint and outdated as cheques (and, indeed, business cards). There are many big obstacles on the path to mainstream mobile payment adoption, and payment habits take decades to change, but I don’t think the future is bright for plastic cards.
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We're Hiring: Analyst Serving eBusiness & Channel Strategy Professionals, Amsterdam Or London

We are looking for a new analyst or senior analyst to join our eBusiness and channel strategy team, based in either London or Amsterdam. We're looking for someone with an analytical mind, good communication skills, a clear perspective on the future of digital financial services, and experience of the complexities of retail financial services and of different European markets to help our clients make great business decisions, shape their firms' strategies and lead change. 

If this sounds like you, or like someone you know, please see the full details in the job description.

Which Firm Poses The Biggest Disruptive Threat To Retail Financial Services?

Over the past few months, we've been researching a series of reports about the disruptive potential of various clusters of new entrants into financial services, from social lending and crowdfunding to digital investment managers and digital banks.

But many eBusiness executives are more concerned about the potential impact of technology giants like Amazon, Apple or Google with their deep pockets, technological prowess and broad consumer reach.

I originally posted this question on one of Forrester's internal collaboration platforms, but I was so intrigued by the results from my colleagues I thought I would post the same question here to see whether your perspective similarly is thought-provoking.

Please vote in my poll in the column to the right of this post. ->

Have I missed any firms that you think have even greater potential, or plans, to disrupt retail financial services?

Mobile Banking Innovation In Europe

Aurélie L'HostisThis is a guest post from Aurélie L’Hostis, a researcher serving eBusiness & Channel Strategy professionals.

In a world that’s constantly on the move, more and more Europeans appreciate that the phone in their pocket can do more than just cruise the Internet, check the weather forecast, and shoot disgruntled birds into space. For mobile banking now offers a secure and convenient way for customers to do their banking ... all in the palm of their hand.

As mobile banking adoption maintains its steady growth in Europe, customer expectations for functionality within mobile banking apps continue to increase. Customers now want quick access to their accounts 24/7, the ability to perform a range of transactions with only a few clicks, and a way to manage their money directly on their smartphone. Over the past year, European banks have focused on trying to keep up with the demands of these increasingly sophisticated mobile banking users. The result has been a plethora of improved functionalities and exciting innovations in European mobile banking. We used our Mobile Banking Functionality Benchmark methodology to evaluate the retail mobile banking offerings of eleven European retail banks from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Poland, and Turkey. Here are some of the highlights:

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Finovate Europe 2014: Digital Financial Innovation

I’ve spent the past two days at Finovate Europe in London, which must be one of the more thought-provoking ways anyone in digital financial services can spend two days.

Here’s my perspective on the lessons from the event for digital financial services executives:

  • More people are focusing on the small business opportunity. There were far more companies proposing to help small businesses manage their finances this year, in numerous ways from access to capital through to document storage and expense management. I was particularly impressed by the work that Efigence and Idea Bank have done to help Idea Bank’s small business customers manage their finances.
  • Automated financial advice for mainstream customers is edging closer. For years, Forrester has talked to its clients about the huge opportunity, and pressing need, for financial firms to use software to automate the production of financial advice. A growing number of firms are trying to solve this problem from one angle or another, including Money On Toast, Vaamo, Your Wealth and Yseop. Perhaps the best quotation of the event came from Elizabeth Farabee at Yseop: “A banker doesn’t sell the customer the best product, but the product he knows best.” Automating the manufacture of advice can fix that.
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It's Time Digital Banking Teams Took Games Seriously

Rachel RoizenThis is a guest post from Rachel Roizen, a researcher serving eBusiness & Channel Strategy professionals.

Gamification, which Forrester defines as the insertion of game dynamics and mechanics into non-game activities to drive a desired behavior, has rightfully been a hot topic of debate in many roles and many industries. We’ve blogged about it here, and written reports on success stories ranging from Club Psych on the USA Network to the use of games in education

The banking industry has been using some features of gaming for years, such as by offering redeemable points based on credit card purchases, but some remain wary of combining games with finances. Forrester’s view is that game mechanics can be used to draw in new and existing digitally connected customers. Digital teams at financial firms that have begun experimenting with gamification are seeing positive results, including increases to online engagement, online banking use, product sales, and social influence. Here are four leading firms that are betting on gamification and implementing it in innovative ways:

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Kaching Lowers The Barriers To Mobile Payment Adoption

Kaching iconTen years ago, Forrester published some research with the slightly awkward title of ‘New Payment Systems’ Survival Guide’. One of our findings was that many successful new payment systems have some kind of ‘must-have’ transaction that encourages customers to go through the hassle of learning how to use a new system in the first place. Good examples of ‘must-have’ transactions include eBay’s auctions for PayPal, travel to work for Transport for London’s Oyster, and online shopping for iDeal.

Ever since, I’ve been seeking the ‘must-have’ transaction that will spark consumer adoption of mobile payments in developed economies. But what if there isn’t one? (And, after 10 years, it’s probably time to admit that there isn’t). The answer is to focus relentlessly on both lowering the barriers to mobile payment by making it as easy as possible for customers to use a new system and to increase the benefits by maximizing the number of ways and places customers can use a system.

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Finovate Europe 2013: Digital Financial Innovation

FinovateI’ve spent the past two days at Finovate Europe in London, which has rapidly established itself as the leading European retail financial technology event of the year. This year’s event was bigger than last year’s, with 64 exhibitors spread over the two days.

Here are my impressions from the two days:

  1. Innovation is hard and usually incremental. Our expectations are so high. It’s easy to sit in the audience and think ‘I’ve seen something like that before’. It’s a lot harder to develop truly new ideas, let alone build them and market them. Innovation is necessarily incremental, moving into the adjacent possible opportunity as my colleague James McQuivey puts it (see him explain it on video here). True invention is extremely rare. As James puts it in his new book, “The most powerful ideas consciously draw from and incorporate elements that were being developed by others along the way, ultimately generating the best outcome in the shortest time at the most efficient cost.” That’s what makes events like Finovate so useful.
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How To Encourage Mobile Banking Use

When we look at our Technographics data on mobile banking adoption by bank, it’s clear that some banks are doing much better than others. Why?

  • Some banks are lucky. Some banks have distinctive brands or propositions that have earned them a customer base that is younger, better educated and higher income than the population as a whole. These customers are more likely to own smartphones, more like to use the mobile Internet, and more likely to be technology optimists. That makes them pre-disposed towards using mobile banking and so relatively easier to persuade to adopt mobile banking.
  • Others have just worked hard. The rising tide of mobile Internet adoption is not raising all boats at equal speed. Some banks have persuaded far more of their customers to use mobile banking than others. The secret of their success? The digital banking teams at the most successful banks have worked long and hard to design, build and promote mobile banking services that meet their customers’ needs.
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Does Your Company's Tax Policy Matter To eBusiness?

Today is, apparently, Cyber Monday in the UK. But there's a more interesting story in the UK's eCommerce market. It's about tax.

The debate is about the tax policies of a number of prominent multi-national businesses that operate in the UK, including Amazon, eBay, Google, Starbucks and Vodafone, most of which pay little or no Corporation Tax, which is levied as a percentage of profits. (It's relatively easy and perfectly legal for a subsidiary of a multi-national company to avoid taxes on profits in one country by buying services from a sister company in another country so that it makes no profit in the first country.)

Today, the Public Accounts Committee of the House of Commons published a scathing report on tax avoidance by multi-national companies operating in the UK. As the report puts it about Starbucks, which has made no profits in the UK for 14 of the past 15 years: "We found it difficult to believe that a commercial company with a 31% market share by turnover, with a responsibility to its shareholders and investors to make a decent return, was trading with apparent losses for nearly every year of its operation in the UK." What the committee says about Amazon is, if anything, worse.

What's the relevance to eBusiness? While it's uncomfortable for Google and Starbucks to be in the limelight for the wrong reasons, demand for both information and coffee is (presumably) fairly constant through the year. But for retailers Amazon and eBay, the timing couldn't be worse, because this debate is taking place in the run-up to Christmas, the crucial sales period for all retailers in the UK.

This debate raises three questions:

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