It's Time Digital Banking Teams Took Games Seriously

Benjamin Ensor

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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How To Encourage Mobile Banking Use

Benjamin Ensor

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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Why Visa’s V.me Digital Wallet Matters To eBusiness

Benjamin Ensor

I attended a briefing from Visa Europe yesterday, about its V.me digital wallet. Here’s what Visa said:V.me by Visa

  • V.me is more than a mobile digital wallet. Customers will be able to use V.me to make online payments too. It lets users check out at online stores using a one-click solution that remembers card details from multiple providers (including MasterCard and American Express cards) as well as billing details and postal addresses.
  • V.me is not just about mobile contactless payments. V.me will support a variety of ways to initiate payments including bar codes and QR codes, as well as NFC.
  • Visa intends to distribute V.me through its member banks, much as Visa cards are distributed today. BBVA will be the first issuer in Spain.
  • V.me is already in extended pilots in the UK and Spain to test the system and will launch formally in both countries soon. France will be next. V.me will start rolling out into stores in the UK next spring. Officially V.me will be available in France, Spain and the UK by next summer. (Visa Inc has already launched V.me in the US).
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Innovation Lessons From BBVA

Benjamin Ensor

BBVAI spent Tuesday and Wednesday at Forrester’s European Customer Experience Forum in London, which was based on the theme of Outside In, Forrester’s new book. One of the most interesting sessions I attended was ‘The Customer Centric Bank’ from Gustavo Vinacua, Innovation Center Director at BBVA’s Centro de Innovación in Madrid.

Over the past decade, BBVA has worked hard to become more customer centric and match its offerings to its customers’ needs. Given the pace of technology change, customers’ rising expectations and the digital disruption those forces cause, innovation is a critical part of the role of eBusiness and channel strategy executives. I thought I would share a few of Gustavo’s insights here for those of you who couldn’t attend. BBVA has become systematically innovative, launching a continuous succession of innovations many of which were a first in Spain, in Europe or in the world, such as:

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One Fifth Of European Mobile Users Use Mobile Banking

Benjamin Ensor

The longer we spend researching mobile banking, the more convinced I become that mobile banking is the most important innovation, or cluster of innovations, in retail banking in years, arguably in a century. Here’s why I think mobile banking is a much bigger deal than cash machines (ATMs), credit cards or home-based online banking:

  • In developing economies that lack a dense infrastructure of branches, ATMs and fixed-line telecoms, mobile banking and payments are bringing millions of people into the formal banking system for the first time.
  • In developed economies mobile banking will become the primary way many, perhaps most, customers interact with their banks. Banks need mobile banking to provide a platform for mobile payments and to protect their retail payments businesses from digital disruption as mobile payments start to replace card payments in shops.
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What Can Bank eBusiness Executives Do About The Euro Crisis?

Benjamin Ensor

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.
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Our View On What Matters In European Retail Banking eBusiness & Channel Strategy

Benjamin Ensor

The past five years have been awful for most European retail banks. The financial crisis, and the resulting recessions in most of Europe's economies, nearly destroyed some banks and crushed the profitability of many of the remainder. Worse than that, it was a problem that was partly or largely of (some) banks' own making. Banks are being forced to shrink their balance sheets, sell off non-core businesses and cut costs (i.e. fire employees) just to survive. And Europe's ongoing financial crises are far from over as banks' fortunes are closely entwined with those of their indebted governments.

There's one small silver lining among these dark clouds. Over the past 15 years, eBusiness has evolved from providing an electronic brochure to become a fundamental strategic function within retail banks. One of the effects of the financial crisis has been to force most European banks to focus on how to generate profits in their core retail banking operations by serving customers efficiently. Digital banking is a big part of the answer. So, despite the bleak economic outlook, most retail banking boards know that they must continue investing in digital channels. Digital strategy is an increasingly important component in overall strategy.

I'm still surprised when I find heads of eBusiness who remain marginalized within their firms, reporting into IT or marketing rather than a centralized distribution channels function alongside branches. The leading banks no longer make that mistake. That has greatly increased the power and influence of digital banking executives, but also their responsibility for the overall success of their businesses.

Here's our view of the top five priorities for eBusiness and channel strategy executives at European retail banks:

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Will 2012 Be The Year Financial eBusiness Teams Fully Embrace Video?

Benjamin Ensor

I love video as a communication media. The combination of sound and moving pictures so much more engaging and more memorable than text.

We wrote in our research last year about how we're starting to see video being used more and more by eBusiness teams as an efficient and effective way to educate customers about products, encourage sales and deliver customer service.

With the Academy Awards coming up, we thought it would be both fun and helpful to highlight some of the best examples we've seen of online video in retail financial services in the past year.  With the help of the rest of team, I've drawn up a list of our favourites in five categories:

Product marketing video
DNB's S for Savings Plan video (Norway).
PayPal’s future of shopping video.

Service marketing video
Commonwealth Bank of Australia's Welcome to NetBank video.
E*Trade's Take Control In 3 Easy Steps video (US).
Mint.com's 90-second overview (US).
Lloyds TSB's money manager video (UK).

Educational (‘how to’) video

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The Co-Operative Bank Comes First In Forrester's 2011 European Bank Customer Advocacy Rankings

Benjamin Ensor

For the second year in succession, the UK's Co-operative Bank has come top in our European Bank Customer Advocacy Rankings, just ahead of Poland's ING Bank Śląski, with Germany's Sparda-Banken in third place.

Customer advocacy is the perception among customers that a firm does what’s right for them, not just what’s best for its own bottom line. Customer advocacy matters because in every country we survey in our Consumer Technographics® research, we’ve found that customers who view their main bank as a customer advocate have more accounts at their main bank, are more likely to consider their bank for their next financial purchase, and are more likely to recommend it to others.

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Mobile Banking: Just Another Channel Or Fundamental Strategic Shift?

Benjamin Ensor

In the past week I’ve have the privilege of talking to (or listening to) executives responsible for mobile banking at some of Europe’s biggest banks, including Bankinter, Barclays Bank, La Caixa, Lloyds TSB, Nordea and RBS, at Forrester’s Marketing & Strategy Forum and at a conference on Next Generation Mobile Banking hosted by The Banker. I’ve also spoken privately to many other executives over the past few months, including at Forrester’s eBusiness Council meeting this week.

Without naming names, I’m struck by the sharply different perspectives these executives have. Simplistically, their view of mobile banking falls into two camps:

                Mobile is just another channel. These executives see mobile banking as a way of letting customers do old things, like checking their account balance, in new ways.

                Mobile will revolutionize retail banking. These executives believe that mobility could turn the retail banking industry upside down, by enabling customers to do entirely new things like scanning bills to make payments, responding to location-based offers, and receiving rewards at the point of sale.

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