North American Banks Continue To Improve Their Digital Services: Forrester’s 2011 Bank Secure Website Rankings

Forrester’s two recent reports — 2011 US Bank Secure Website Rankings and 2011 Canadian Bank Secure Website Rankings — highlight the incremental improvements banking providers have made over the past year. Overall, scores among US and Canadian banks rose by an average of five points. The biggest gains can be seen in the improved usability of the websites, with big advances in users’ ability to navigate banks’ secure websites. Canada’s six largest banks gained more ground than their counterparts south of the border, with firms such as Bank of Montreal and Scotiabank rolling out completely overhauled secure sites. In terms of individual banks, we found that:

·         Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Chase take the top three spots overall. Wells Fargo’s secure website is the only one we evaluated that scored above a 90 (out of 100) in the category of transactional content and functionality. In addition, it ranked first or second across all four categories of usability we evaluated. Bank of America earned an overall score of 81 by offering best-in-class alerts and self-service functionality. Chase, meanwhile, had a strong showing with convenient secure website functionality such as multiple bill payment options and solid mobile banking features.

·         RBC earns the highest score among Canadian providers. Among Canadian banks, RBC Royal Bank took the top spot, with high scores across all six broad categories. Moreover, RBC’s scores are significantly above minimum standards in two categories, including transactional functionality. The firm also improved considerably in some areas, including a redesigned landing page, automatic credit card bill payments, and more prominent messaging around its personal financial management (PFM) offering.

In addition, we found that:

·         Banks are successfully using alerts to help clients keep track of their financial lives . . . Delivering relevant alerts and reminders to bank customers can be a win-win, deepening the relationship clients have with their bank, encouraging them to make additional transactions and buy additional products, and conveying the idea that the bank is doing what’s best for its clients, not just its own bottom line. Bank of America, Chase, and RBC shine here, offering relevant types of alerts to secure website users. Scotiabank recently rolled out bill pay and info alerts as part of its secure website overhaul. CIBC, meanwhile, demonstrates best-practice alerting capabilities with up to five delivery endpoints, including SMS, email, and voice messages to multiple phone numbers. 

·         . . . but most firms still lack personal financial management (PFM) tools. Of the 12 banks Forrester assessed, just four had any type of personal financial management (PFM) offering on their secure websites. And most of these are new additions, rolled out as part of recent secure website enhancements. Bank of America’s “My Portfolio” and Wells Fargo’s ”My Money Map” are two examples of PFM offerings, as are RBC’s myFinanceTracker and BMO’s new MoneyLogic service. These offerings help users track, understand, and manage their financial lives, with tools that sort income and expenses into categories, create budgets, and compare finances with other consumers across a range of criteria. 

So what’s next for North American banking providers? Forrester’s website rankings demonstrate that banks’ eBusiness teams have improved secure websites — now they must innovate. This will mean making strategic investments in digital services like PFM and expanded alerts, as well as fast-emerging touchpoints including the mobile Web, smartphone apps, and tablets like the iPad and Kindle Fire.

What do you think is the future of banking providers’ secure websites?



Bill-Thank you for the thoughtful sspeonre.But that is the point – the possibilities presented a national government under a gold standard are limiting and may not allow it to achieve true full employment.As I explained before, if you are running 100% reserve, gold standard, full employment is achievable if follow two rules 1) do not print more money that you have backed by gold at the fixed conversion rate and 2) if you break rule 1) devalue, devalue, devalue.If you run a fractional reserve system with a gold standard, then the central bank must follow Bagehot's rules. The Bank of England followed Bagehot's rules from 1870 to 1914 and had full employment and a tamer business cycle than we have now. When the Bank of England stopped following those rules, it ended in predictable disaster. When the government printed more money that it had gold, and then refused to devalue, it created ruin. It should have devalued in the 1920 s.Again, the gold standard is fine tool, that can be used to achieve full employment if used properly.At present, the policy makers pretend they have a gold standard – or some hybrid and act as though they are as constrained as they would be under a gold standard.Our problems today are analagous to those of the 20 s and 30 s. But the problem is not gold standard mindset. The problem is a refusal to devalue. Why is there a refusal to devalue? Popular outrage for one, and an ability to admit mistakes for second. That is why we are getting such unsatisfactory sspeonres to the current crisis and also why most nations have endured very high levels of unemployment (relatively) over the last 30-35 years.Unemployment has certainly been a problem during recessions. And recessions certainly call for stimulus to maintain/restore employment. But I don't see unemployment due to deficient aggregate demand as a chronic, ongoing problem. From 2003 to 2007, loose money led due to credit expansion led to pulling millions of workers from Mexico north into America to build houses.Dilution can only occur if what you can buy in real terms per $ is reduced. That is not a function of the stock of liquidity – but what the liquidity can purchase in real terms.This is simply incorrect. Dilution may be offset by an increased demand for money, or by productivity increases, but it's still dilution. Dilution may be a good idea in some circumstances (such as an aggregate demand shock), but it's still dilution.If you own stock in a company, and issues 3% more shares every year to payoff executives, do you consider this dilution not to exist if the economy also grows by 3% a year? If so, I have some stock to sell you Like dilution of the money supply, dilution of a stock can be a good idea in some circumstances (such as to raise money from venture capitalists), but it's still dilution.In economies with high degrees of capacity underutilisation and unemployment, increase public deficits can actually increase the amount of real goods and services at the disposal of the individual (for example, giving the unemployed a job) without reducing the real capacity per % held by others.This is true. But keep in mind the government doesn't just dilute the currency during recessions. By any measure you choose, there was a very high rate of dilution during the 2003-2008 period. This dilution is an ongoing transfer of resources from the holders of government paper to the government's favored constiuencies. A five year treasury bill bought in 2003 actually lost money in real terms, because the dilution rate was so high.Your last paragraph also confuses the role of taxation.It is correct to describe the system as one where government creates money to spend, and taxes to sterilize. You can also model the system as one where the Fed creates money, and the Treasury taxes to fund government operations. Technically, this is what happens, and this is how the government iteslf describes its operations. Either way, it's a fiat currency, and in no theoretical sense is spending in dollars constrained by taxes.But the overall point, is that when the government extends credits ( or rather, gives banks a license to extend credit) real resources are transferred from the existing holders of money and government paper, to the people receiving the loans.If the point of the 100-percent reserve banking system is to reduce bank losses then I fail to see how it does that unless it prohibits credit creation at all. The point is to eliminate liquidity crises and bank runs. Not to eliminate credit risk. Credit risk will still be present. Almost all the major crises, from the panic of 1819 to the Great Depression to the run on the money markets last september have had maturity transformation at their heart.Widespread failures (defaults) are still possible which just means that at some point in the future (when the fixed-term deposits expire) the bank run occurs.A bank run is a totally different phenomena than a default. If there are widespread defaults in the maturity matched scenario, there is no bank run. When the desposits expire, the holder simply gets $.95 on the dollar (or whatever the losses were). A bank run is when a bank has made a lot of promises to redeem notes on demand, but does not have the liquid reserves to meet those obligations. As a result there is a race to the bank to get their hands on the last bit of cash. When it's gone, the holders of desposits often end up with pennies on the dollar, which is why bank runs/maturity mismatching crises have been historically much more of a problem than default crises. This point gets obscured though, because a bank run that wipes out desposits will often result in defaults (the bank run causes banks to fail and the money supply to contract, the contracting money supply causes aggregate expenditures to fall, thus income falls, thus businesses cannot pay back loans).A bank run can occur even in the complete absence of any defaults. In most practical cases, defaults trigger the run, but the losses from the run far, far exceed the losses from the default. To understand this, there are number of articles, try or or read up on the or read up on the model.In that sense, I don’t see the point of it and so I start thinking about the other motives that are behind the suggestion – the Austrian sound money motives – which in my view disable the capacity of the national government to pursue and achieve public purpose – full employment, equity in opportunity, environmentally sustainable growth, and price stability.Rothbard has a whole framework of his definition economic liberty, and its from this framework that he defines his idea of what banking should be. He often ignores evidence that does not fit his pre-existing framework. For instance, he does not recognize that once a deflation happens the government should step in and stop it.Other libertarians have a public choice perspective. They do not believe the government ever acts in the public interest, so they want it do as little as possible. When you look at the current sspeonre to the financial crisis, can you really fault them for this view? As for me, I note that markets are themselves creation of the government courts, so the whole free market versus government dichotomy never made sense to me. The government will do what the government does, I have no control over it. I prefer to analyze proposals from an intellectual stand point and figure out what they get right and what they get wrong.