U.S. Bank Tackles Cross-Channel Banking With Innovative Mobile Photo Bill Pay

Banks get a bad rap for not being innovative enough. But at least one provider is proving the haters wrong: Early this year, U.S. Bank launched Mobile Photo Bill Pay, a feature that lets mobile bankers add a new payee simply by taking a picture of a paper bill or statement.

This mobile feature – powered by technology solutions company Mitek – goes beyond “nifty” With it, U.S. Bank offers customers an easier, more convenient, and more elegant cross-channel experience for a common activity. It helps the bank by increasing the number of customers who use digital bill pay – and deepening relationships with customers. According to Niti Badarinath, SVP and head of mobile banking at U.S. Bank, “Getting people to become active users of bill pay is key to our digital strategy, because we recognize the value and stickiness of the relationship when people pay bills." (taken from a recent article in American Banker)

How it works

When U.S. Bank launched mobile photo bill pay, I immediately pulled up my U.S. Bank iPhone app and took this new feature for a test drive (see screenshots below). Put simply, this is an innovation that delivers: A customer can go from opening a bill he got in the mail to enrolling a brand new payee to paying that bill in under 150 seconds (a.k.a. less than 2 minutes and 30 seconds). This is without setting up any bill payment options in advance, or entering any information manually – the mobile photo bill pay feature even corrects for image distortion, reads relevant data and auto-populates all the information.

Why it’s good for U.S. Bank

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How To Build A World-Class Mobile Banking Strategy

Mobile has gotten a lot of attention at banks recently. In fact, other teams in a firm’s organization are starting to feel like Jan Brady, the voices in their heads chanting “Mobile Mobile Mobile!”

But there’s good reason for the increased focus on mobile banking efforts: mobile is the most important strategic change in retail banking in over a decade. It is shifting your customers’ behavior, raising customers’ expectations, and opening up new opportunities for banks, their competitors, and new disruptors.

So how can strategists at banks assess the current and future state of the mobile banking market? How can they plan their own mobile banking roadmap? What do they need to successfully execute these plans? And how will they continue to improve and enhance their mobile offerings going forward?

Forrester’s new Mobile Banking Strategy Playbook seeks to answer all of these questions, drawing on mountains of research and deep dives into data in order to give eBusiness teams at banks a complete framework for building and maintaining a world-class mobile banking strategy. The playbook will include 12 chapters (plus an Executive Summary) that cover different aspects of mobile banking – and many of those chapters are already live. These chapters outline how to develop a successful mobile banking strategy. Specifically, we recommend that mobile strategists at banks:

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Citi And Royal Bank Of Canada Earn The Top Spots In Our 2012 Bank Secure Website Rankings

Late last year, Forrester reviewed and ranked the secure websites of the 12 largest retail banks in the US and Canada. The full reports can be found here (US) and here (Canada). Overall, banks' secure websites earned an average score of 70 points (out of 100), demonstrating a level of quality that meets customers expectations but also leaves room for improvements. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Citi moves to the top of the US rankings with a website overhaul. In July 2011, Citi launched its first tablet banking app. Based in part on insights gleaned from that process, the bank rolled out a newly redesigned secure website, followed by additional digital features and functionality for online bankers, mobile bankers, and tablet bankers. As a result, Citi moved from second-to-last in our ranking to the top spot this year.
  • RBC pulls off a historic sixth-straight win among Canadian banks' secure sites. For a record sixth year, RBC earned the top spot in our Canadian rankings. Two factors drive RBC’s digital banking success: First, the bank's secure website offers a wide array of secure site features, including eBills, tax management tools, and more; second, the bank continues to innovate, this year adding customizable money management dashboards and new mobile features such as foreign exchange and mortgage payment calculators on its iPhone app.
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The Digital Banking Strategist’s Wish List

Whether you’ve been naughty or nice this year, you probably have a wishlist for your business. We thought it would be fun and interesting to find out what some of your wishes are, so the Digital Banking Strategy team at Forrester reached out to some of our eBusiness clients at banks and asked them “What one ‘wish’ do you have for your team’s digital banking efforts or strategy in 2013?”

Here are some of the answers we got back:

  1. “We wish we could transform every branch and call center employee into an advocate for marketing and educating customers on our digital capabilities.”
  2. “I wish that our execs would understand how understaffed we are.”
  3. “I wish we had better live help for our digital banking customers.”
  4. “I wish I knew which area of mobile payments to focus on and what is going to ‘shake out’ and actually ‘stick,’ so to speak.”
  5. “We wish for a digitalized branch pilot that focuses on advice and guidance.”
  6. “We wish all of our customers – including the most skittish and skeptical – would try out our digital banking capabilities (online, mobile, and tablet)… and those who already use them would do so even more regularly.”
  7. “I wish I could spend 3 hours with our CMO – and have his full attention – to show him how much impact our online and mobile banking efforts have.”
  8. “I wish we could sort through the clutter of mobile wallet vendors and offerings to know which will actually pan out.”
  9. “I wish I could snap my fingers and have great secure site search and intelligent cross-selling on our secure site.”
  10. “a pink pony.”
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Q&A with Mike Boush, VP, eBusiness, Discover Financial Services

Earlier this week I caught up with Discover’s Mike Boush to talk about his keynote at the upcoming eBusiness Forum, where he’ll explore innovations in eBusiness at Discover. Here’s a snippet of our conversation, and a sneak peak of Mike’s session at the event:

Q: What digital initiative have you undertaken in the last 12 months that you're most excited about?

A: I love what we're doing with partnerships online. It's creating a whole lot of value for customers and, frankly, getting us out of the "must be built at Discover" mentality. It started with an integration with PayPal in order to deliver peer-to-peer payment services. The program leverages PayPal’s huge delivery platform, and customers love it. Then we introduced an integration with Amazon that lets customers pay for their Amazon.com purchases with the cash they earned through our Cashback Bonus rewards program. This really highlights the difference between competitors' "points" programs and our straightforward cash, and the transparency shows just how great our program is. And recently, Google announced our integration of Discover card enrollment into the Google Wallet from our website, which is convenient for customers and helps position us in the mobile payments space. These integrations are just a sample of what we've done, but they become powerful illustration of what we can do when we team up and innovate with other great companies. 

Q: What gets in the way of delivering the right experience to your customers?

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Royal Bank Of Canada, Citi, & Wells Fargo Top Forrester’s Digital Sales Rankings In 2012

Every year, Forrester employs its Website Benchmark (WSB) methodology to evaluate the effectiveness of North American banks’ digital sales efforts. This year, our evaluation has yielded two reports: 2012 Canadian Bank Digital Sales Rankings and 2012 US Bank Digital Sales Rankings. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) leads all of North America.RBC again took the top spot in the 2012 Canadian Bank Digital Sales Rankings, scoring 77 out of a possible 100. It continues to tweak and improve an already good design; the bank started a major redesign in 2009. RBC continues to excel in areas big and small: For example, the firm presents fulfillment options in an easy-to-read format (see screenshot below). In 2012, Royal Bank of Canada improved its navigation, content, and online application functionality, and its score for 2012 reflects that improvement.
  • Citi and Wells Fargo top the US banks.Citi and Wells Fargo topped Forrester’s 2012 US Bank Digital Sales Rankings by delivering on multiple levels. Both banks combine good usability with exceptional account-opening processes. For example, Wells Fargo uses presentation best practices to make its checking account fees clear to customers and prospects (see screenshot below).
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Read This Blog, Win A Prize!!!

It’s the latest craze sweeping the nation… No, I’m not talking about Fruit Ninja, I’m talking about gamification.

There's a reason "gamification" is the buzzword on the tip of so many tongues these days. It takes ideas and structures from games - the video kind and other types - to guide companies in their quest to affect consumer behavior. So should digital strategists at banks and financial institutions use gamification to meet their business objectives?

We’ll get to that, but for now let's start by clarifying what we're talking about. Forrester defines gamification as:

      The insertion of game dynamics and mechanics into non-game activities to drive a desired behavior.

These mechanics come in many shapes & sizes – SCVNGR, a mobile game developer, has a list of more than 40 – but here’s a quick list of four major ones:

·         Points. The most basic element of gamification, points is any type of virtual currency – or, in a few cases, IRL currency. Digital strategists at banks & credit card companies have used this tool for years in the form of rewards points. 

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Discover Offers Best-In-Class Secure Site Features For Cardholders: Forrester’s 2012 US Credit Card Secure Website Rankings

Websites are the most widely used touchpoint for credit cardholders interacting with their providers. The quality of a credit card company's secure website impacts the relationship that firm has with its customers. To understand the state of card issuers' digital services, Forrester has just released our 2012 US Credit Card Secure Website Rankings. We found that:

  • Discover leads the pack with exceptional service features and valuable transactional functionality. With a score of 80 out of 100, Discover received the highest overall score among the six credit card issuers whose websites we evaluated. The firm earned a whopping 91 in our online servicing category, as well as an impressive 84 in our transactional content and functionality category.
  • eBusiness teams at card issuers have room to improve in cross-selling and usability. Although the websites we looked at revealed strong digital services among credit card issuers overall, our benchmark also uncovered opportunities for improvement, specifically in the areas of user experience design and secure website cross-selling. eBusiness teams need to enhance their websites’ navigation, task flow efficiency, and location cues while improving the contextual cross-selling & upselling on the secure site.

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Introducing Forrester’s Mobile Banking Functionality Benchmark

Technology is radically changing the way bank customers interact with their providers, and mobile touchpoints are at the forefront of this change. In the past five years, mobile banking adoption in the US has more than quadrupled, hitting 17% by the end of 2011. This represents a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 33%.

As such, eBusiness professionals and mobile strategists at banks are in a white-knuckle contest to out-do each other in the mobile space. To evaluate and gauge banks’ mobile offerings, we applied Forrester’s Mobile Banking Functionality Benchmark to the four largest retail banks in the US.                                                                                                 

What we found:

  • Big US banks offer solid, not-yet-splendid, mobile services.  We employ 63 individual criteria in our Mobile Banking Functionality Benchmark methodology. The combination of weightings and scores for the criteria generates an overall score based on a 100-point scale. In our inaugural ranking, the four largest US banks posted an average score of 63 out of 100 – above our minimum standards but far from perfect.
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Citibank Moves Boldly Into The Tablet Banking Market

Hotcakes, you've got some competition: the phrase "selling like tablets" might soon enter the global lexicon. And it's not all hype — though there is a fair bit of that as well. Tablet users in the US are estimated to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 51% from 2010 to 2015. That’s a fast-growing market for firms of all stripes.

As such, the tablet as a touchpoint is becoming a critical consideration for eBusiness & Channel strategists. This is especially true for executives at banks, as financial transactions benefit from the immediacy of the mobile channel, but users often struggle to make these transactions on smaller smartphone screens.

Enter tablet banking.

Forrester has previously identified best practices for tablet apps in financial services, but only in the past year have leading banks rolled out robust tablet banking efforts. One of the strongest tablet offerings we’ve seen is from Citibank.

In my new report, I outline the process Citibank went through in building its own tablet banking strategy, developing an iPad app, rolling it out to customers, and continually improving the service. We outline how Citi:

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