Bitcoin: Some Parts Brilliant, Some Parts Sure To Bomb

Denée Carrington

A version of this post originally appeared on Re/code.

The rollercoaster ride for Bitcoin enthusiasts continued this week: There was good news from UK regulators, who have taken a relatively progressive stance on virtual currencies, and bad news with the latest heist of 890 Bitcoin (roughly $600,000) and the resulting demise of Flexcoin, a Bitcoin storage service. The breaking news frenzy perhaps reached a new peak with the claim that the real Satoshi Nakamoto has been identified. There’s no doubt that additional revelations are on the horizon when it comes to the first crypto-currency, and with that, the debate about the longevity and usefulness of Bitcoin will continue. In our new report on Bitcoin, we address the following questions:

1.       What is Bitcoin?

2.       Who are the main players?

3.       What headway has Bitcoin made?

4.       How viable is Bitcoin as a consumer payment alternative?

5.       Should I worry about crypto-currencies like Bitcoin disrupting my business?

6.       How can I outsmart crypto-currencies?

Here’s the bottom line: Bitcoin is deeply flawed as an alternative currency or payment method for mainstream consumers. It will, however, be a catalyst for a more efficient global payments system because it demonstrates one way to tackle the many embedded inefficiencies.

Bitcoin Is Not A Viable Payment Alternative For Mainstream Consumers

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First Details Of Forrester’s 2013 Global Banking Platform Deals Survey

Jost Hoppermann

Forrester began surveying global banking platform deals in 2005. For 2013, we evaluated about 1,600 banking platform deals submitted by 29 vendors and located in about 130 countries. Shortly, we will publish the final results of this evaluation. Today, I want to offer some initial trends:

  • Counted deal numbers are the second highest ever. The number of counted new named deals is the second level we have yet recorded. The number of new-named deals shrunk; extended business deals increased and the banking platform market grew. 
     
  • The banking platform market shifted gears again. Top 10 vendors still represented the vast majority of new named deals that we counted, but fewer vendors than in 2012 enjoyed more than ten percent of all counted deals.
     
  • Banks' total assets indicate three vendor categories. One group of vendors won very small banks only and another group’s projects reached up to medium sized-banks. Only six vendors’ clients touch the total assets range of tier 1 banks (and go beyond it).

All the details will be available with a series of forthcoming reports focusing on the success of the participating vendors, the regional success perspective, as well as delivered functionality. If you do not want to wait: I will share some of the results during a Forrester Teleconference on February 27 As always, let me know your thoughts: jhoppermann (at) forrester.com.

Forrester’s 2013 US And Canadian Bank Secure Website Rankings

Peter Wannemacher

Hello, and a somewhat belated Happy New Year, dear readers! As we prepare for the upcoming year — and start to think about the digital banking space in 2014 — it is worth taking stock of where banks’ secure websites are today.

Late last year, Forrester published our annual benchmarks of the largest banks’ secure websites: The 2013 US Bank Secure Website Rankings can be found here and the 2013 Canadian Bank Secure Website Rankings can be found here. Here are a few highlights from this research:

  • Canadian banks excel at cross-selling. Canadian banking providers may well be among the best in the world at cross-selling on secure sites. In our reviews, Canadian banks earned scores that were significantly higher than US firms in our cross-selling category. In fact, every Canadian bank we ranked earned high marks for digital cross-selling. They accomplish this by embedding marketing and calls to action for additional products and employing merchandising tactics within "products and services" tabs.
  • US banks shine when it comes to money movement and alerts. All six US banks did well in our money movement category, which includes bill pay, transfers, and P2P payments criteria. The US banks also scored well across the board for alerts by offering extensive account, transaction, and security alerts across a range of delivery endpoints including email, SMS, and in-app alerts.
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The Country With The Most ATMs Per Capita? The Contest Re-Opens

Oliwia Berdak

At a time when mobile banking and mobile payments dominate the financial news, it is easy to forget about the humble automated teller machine (ATM). Customers take them for granted, until an IT glitch prevents them from withdrawing their money, that is. Only a couple of weeks have passed since the latest media uproar caused by a computer failure at the UK’s Royal Bank of Scotland and NatWest. The Daily Mail responded immediately with an alarming title, “'Cyber Monday' computer meltdown EMPTIES customers' accounts and leaves millions unable to access cash.”

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Banks: Add Search To Your Secure Sites

Peter Wannemacher

The majority of bank customers are now active online bankers, making the content and functionality offered on secure sites more important than ever. Forrester has just published research on which features are must-have on banks’ secure websites.

For my money, the most surprising high-value secure website feature is search (here we mean natural language keyword search that lets a user find what he or she is looking for on the site). In fact, our research revealed search to be one of the few bank website features that customers rate as above-average in importance, yet search is either nonexistent or poor on most banks’ secure sites. So we wrote an entire research report about it. Here are some highlights:

  • Online banking customers want search… We asked consumers who bank online to "rate how important it is to you that your bank's website has each of the following features" and asked them about 14 different features, including search. The majority of online bankers — 68% in the US and 63% in Canada — say search is important to have on their bank's secure website.
  • …but few banks offer search on their secure website…Just seven of the 25 largest banks in North America include search functionality on their secure websites.
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Sophisticated Online, Internet, And Mobile Banking Solutions Help Banks Differentiate And Contain Costs

Jost Hoppermann

The bank I mainly use for my daily banking needs does not offer that many examples of great customer experiences. The two reasons why my family continues to use that bank are the high number of ATMs in the area where we live and a very customer-oriented branch advisor. Our most recent interaction with that bank (but not with that advisor) delivered yet another example of “great” customer service across channels, an experience that will likely cause us to look for a new bank. The chances that this yet-to-be-determined bank can offer better cross-channel capabilities at least at some point in the future are not bad at all: Many financial services firms are evolving beyond using just a single channel to get in touch with their customers (see the figure below)

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Q&A with Harit Talwar, President, US Cards, Discover Financial Services

Harley Manning

We all felt extremely lucky to score Harit Talwar as a speaker for Forrester's Forum For Customer Experience Professionals West, which is coming up on October 9th and 10th in Los Angeles. Why lucky? It’s for two main reasons.

First, Discover has been a consistently strong performer in our Customer Experience Index, in a virtual dead heat with American Express. Yet Discover’s customer experience story is not nearly as well known as the American Express story, so we’ve been dying to bring it to a Forrester stage.

Second, Harit blew me away in our first forum prep call. Not only does he really get the concept of a customer experience journey, but also he’s been living it. What’s more, he brings results in terms of metrics like customer loyalty scores, wallet share, and J.D. Power scores as proof that what Discover has been doing actually works.

In the run-up to the forum, Harit recently took the time to answer questions about what Discover is doing and why it's doing it. It’s my pleasure to be able to share his answers with you, and I hope to see you in Los Angeles where we’ll all get to meet Harit in person.

Q. When did your company first begin focusing on customer experience? Why? 

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Haste Makes Waste — Take Your Time When Selecting Business Applications

Jost Hoppermann

When my teenage son is interested in purchasing a mobile phone, some PC equipment, or a games console, he will typically spend weeks gathering the necessary information to arrive at a well-informed decision. He once told me that he feels this is necessary to make the best use of his savings — a trait that I do not always observe banks around the world exhibiting.

Recently I had a phone call with a few people from the business side of a medium-size bank somewhere in the world. Their challenge? They wanted to use the best method to find the mobile banking application most suited to their bank. Their real challenge? They had no time to make a deeper assessment of their individual business and technology situation and only wanted to get proof that their approach would be the right one. They wanted a clear recommendation within a few days.

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. When I know nothing about a bank’s business environment, its supporting application landscape, and its underlying technology, I am very reluctant to offer more than a long list of business applications, regardless of whether the topic at hand is mobile or cross-channel solutions, core banking, or something else. This is in line with a research report about best practices for banking platform transformation that Forrester published some time ago. At the time, we identified a few key reasons common to major banking platform transformation failures. One of those reasons: ill-designed shortcuts.

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Highlights and Thoughts From Finovate Fall 2013

Peter Wannemacher

[note: this was written live last week while I was attending Finovate]

Greetings from the Big Apple! I’m here attending the fancy schmancy Finovate Fall 2013 conference featuring tech solutions and innovations from – and for – the financial services industry. Here are some of the offerings and presentations that stood out for me, in the order they were presented at Finovate:

  • Kofax offers process automation software for lenders, but the big takeaway for me was their recent expansion of mobile, cross-channel, and multichannel analytics for financial providers. Focused on how customers shop for a loan, the dashboard and data are digestible and actionable. The jury’s still out, but strong analytics and easy-to-use tools can help banks improve sales in their lending lines of business.  
  • MoneyDesktop offers digital money management tools – also known as personal financial management or PFM – and their demo at Finovate continued to show their strengths: Nifty tools, clean design, and intuitive UI and UX. The question mark for banks, however, continues to be how well integrated – or better yet, embedded – the experience can/will be for end users.
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Influence Forrester’s Future Banking Apps Coverage

Jost Hoppermann

Forrester’s latest survey on financial services architecture shows that financial services firms in general, and banks in particular, put a high priority on a few selected topics (see the figure below). Our banking-specific research for AD&D professionals has focused on topics like banking architecture, banking platforms including core banking, Internet and mobile banking (to be published soon), and multichannel enablement. Forrester’s more industry-neutral research has covered aspects such as analytics, business intelligence, big data, customer relationsship management and other, less industry-specific, areas of business applications.

We have also started preparing a report about the key building blocks of today’s risk management solutions. However, my recent discussions with Forrester clients have covered plenty of additional topics, including anti-money-laundering, branch apps, private wealth management, lending in retail/consumer banking, corporate/commercial lending and its syndicated flavors, mortgages, trading, and treasury, just to mention a few.

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