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Are Full-Service Branches Here to Stay? Don't Bank on it.

Posted by Jim Garrity

Wed, Jun 13, 2012

Bank Research CMBThirty years ago, the ATM revolutionized banking convenience by letting customers conduct their business at any time, and without stepping foot in a branch— there are now several generations who can’t remember a time before you could just “hit the machine.”  But all that automation meant fewer bank customers face to face with bank reps and the products they sell. Decades later, rising cost pressures, new regulations, consumer desire for added convenience, and diminishing returns on full-service bank branches have created an economic challenge for banks.

To understand the impact of these changes, through our Consumer Pulse we explored customer perspectives on bank convenience, fees, and branch alternatives. We found what bank customers say they value, doesn’t necessarily match up with what they’re actually doing.  We asked people how important having a branch nearby was to their sense of banking convenience—most (67%) reported it was “very important.”  Taken by itself this isn’t a shocking statistic; we know bank customers appreciate personal service and convenience. But asked how often they actually go to a bank (not an ATM—a full-service branch) nearly half (45%) go fewer than 5 times per year.   

What explains this disconnect between what consumers say they need and what they actually use?  Online and mobile banking services mean customers can conduct most transactions from the comfort of their home or office. Although a trip to the local branch is often unnecessary when you can check your balance, transfer funds, or make payments from your phone, customers find full-service branches appealing. Still, fond memories may not be enough to keep branches, as customers know them, open.  

For the first time in over a decade, banks are closing branches faster than they’re opening them, and banks are looking to alternatives with lower overhead and operating costs. To understand what alternatives were most and least appealing, we asked respondents to participate in a trade-off exercise to evaluate new banking concepts. When forced to choose, customers were willing to give up their local branches rather than see fees rise. These findings suggest branch proximity, while still important to many, is not as critical to a convenient banking experience as it might have been in the past.

One of the alternative banking concepts we tested was the” teller-less” branch. The teller-less branch is largely automated, but sales professionals are available to discuss bank products, and customer representatives are available by phone. In one of the more surprising findings, customers said they would rather have their local branch close altogether than have it replaced with a teller-less branch. This finding, while counter-intuitive, is telling—banks will need to educate their customers on how new banking concepts will affect and benefit them.

While the full-service bank branch may become a thing of the past, banking convenience and service are as relevant to today’s bank customers as ever—even as the modes of service change.

Banking research CMB Consumer PulseDownload the full report: The Future of the full-Service bank Branch here.

Posted by Jim Garrity, Jim is Managing Director of CMB’s Financial Services practice. He hasn’t stepped foot in his bank branch in months.

Topics: financial services research, mobile, Consumer Pulse

Banks Can and Must Allay Mobile Banking Users' Fears

Posted by Jim Garrity

Wed, Oct 05, 2011

mobile bankingThis summer, New Corp’s alleged hacking of celebrity and crime victims’ mobile phones ignited a fire storm around mobile security. Closer to home, the dark side of online convenience wasn’t news to the millions of customers who’ve had their passwords, email, social media accounts, and credit card information hacked. What has received less attention in the U.S. are the privacy issues and risks that stem from burgeoning mobile usage, particularly mobile banking. This spring CMB along with iModerate asked 1,461 Americans over the age of 18 to share their mobile banking habits; the findings reveal consumers’ concerns about mobile privacy.

Data breaches are uncomfortably common, with over 13 million customers falling victim in 2011 as of September. While having an email account compromised may be frustrating, time-consuming, and embarrassing, the thought of financial information in the hands of hackers is the stuff of nightmares.  The vast majority of major banks offer the convenience of online banking, and the growth of smartphone ownership has made mobile banking increasingly popular. According to CMB, over half (52%) of smartphone owners use their device for banking activities including checking account balances, transferring funds, or purchasing stock. Nearly 68% of those under 35 use mobile banking compared with 41% between the ages of 35 and 49, and only a quarter of those over 65. The difference in mobile phone usage by age is consistent with lower use overall by older smartphone owners, who are less likely to take advantage of the array of mobile capabilities than younger users. 

Mobile bankers and non-mobile bankers alike indicate feeling more concern (54%) over personal privacy when using smartphone “apps” for banking than when using a personal computer.  The feeling is unsurprisingly more pronounced among non-mobile banking smartphone owners. A look at motivations behind the lack of use reveals real concerns about mobile privacy and security from smartphone users across the board. As one respondent noted:  “I do not want to do any banking on my phone, at all. Too many security risks…Lose my phone and all my info is cached…phones are easy to access and mine data out of,” Female, 30-34.

Forty-seven percent of smartphone users, who did not use their phone for mobile banking, expressed concerns about privacy (having location tracked by mobile devices, or wireless carriers). Nearly the same percentage (49%) noted security concerns (identity theft, malware, viruses) as reasons not to bank with their phone. Privacy and security concerns aside, half of non-mobile bankers said they preferred to do their banking in person or online. Said one respondent, “I am comfortable with my desktop, my firewall and security system, etc. Plus, in general, I am more productive and faster on the desktop,” Female, 55-59.

The fear of security and privacy breaches is powerful, 71% of smartphone users who don’t use mobile banking say they are highly unlikely to start within the next six months, 86% say they’re unlikely to begin investing on their device. But there is a bright spot for mobile app designers: of non-smartphone owners who plan to buy a device in the next 6 months, nearly 40% said they’d be “highly likely” to use their phone for banking.

So what is the takeaway for the banking and mobile industries?  For some, concerns over security and privacy may always trump the ease and convenience of new platforms and devices; banks and mobile providers must still actively address the reasonable privacy and security concerns of their customers to establish trust among those who may be wary. Banks who can deliver new product and service bundles that satisfy these very real concerns about mobile security will gain the trust, and ensure the growth, of their mobile banking customer base.

Posted by Jim Garrity. Jim Garrity is VP of CMB's Financial Services practice, never wears blue jeans to work, and loves the convenience of banking.

mobile-banking-icon-small

 

Download our recent Consumer Pulse report: A Consumer Perspective on Mobile Banking. It looks at how smartphone and tablet owners are conducting mobile banking and transactions on their mobile device.

Topics: financial services research, mobile, Consumer Pulse

Why Banks Should Give Away FREE iPhones, Today

Posted by Jim Garrity

Thu, Jul 14, 2011

describe the imageLast week we released our latest CMB Consumer Pulse study shedding light on consumers’ perspective around mobile banking. The most interesting finding to me is around where the new growth will come from in this market and it’s not from current smartphone owners.

Among those who have a smartphone, but aren’t conducting mobile banking…they aren’t likely to start anytime soon –mainly due to security concerns or the fact that they just don’t value the convenience. On the other hand, of those likely to buy a smartphone, many (about two in five) are likely to begin mobile banking once the phone is in their hands. 

The reality is mobile banking among current smartphone owners has essentially plateaued.  For the most part, people with experience using these devices have already made up their minds.  Is it possible to convince them otherwise?  Maybe, but why not go for those consumers who are ready and willing, just not able, unless of course banks give them to tools they need…

There’s a group out there that’s ready to bank on their smartphones in the very near future – no questions asked.  Given how affordable smartphones have become (you’ve seen the Apple commercials for the $50 iPhone 3GS), it’s worth considering partnered promotions to draw new smartphone buyers to the bank.  

Instead of focusing on the smartphone/tablet owners who have just not bought in to mobile banking, why not go for the lower hanging fruit and focus on those that have bought in but need the technology to make it happen?

Posted by Jim Garrity. Jim Garrity is VP of CMB's Financial Services practice, never wears blue jeans to work, and loves the convenience of banking.


mobile-banking-icon-small

 

Download our recent Consumer Pulse report: A Consumer Perspective on Mobile Banking. It looks at how smartphone and tablet owners are conducting mobile banking and transactions on their mobile device.


Topics: financial services research, mobile, Consumer Pulse

Segmentation: Applying Experience, Consistency, and an Open Mind

Posted by Kristen Garvey

Tue, Apr 26, 2011

Segmentation researchLet’s face it – it’s no secret that segmentation can be a complex issue.  There’s no shortage of opinion or collection of best practices to pore over before embarking upon the segmentation process.  On one hand, that’s a great thing.  It’s always better to have the option of sifting through peer experience (and learn from their mistakes) than it is to start at zero.  On the other hand, the sifting process is a lot of work.  You’d be surprised how quickly you can find yourself down the rabbit hole.

At CMB, we do our best to make that process easier for our clients.  When we talk about segmentation, we draw on 27 years of experience to inform a distinct opinion.  You see that in our  5 “C’s” of Great Market Segmentation (clout, confidence, collaboration, cognizance, & communication) and, our belief that segmentation should always begin with the end in mind

Segmentation is anything but static.  We learn something new from almost every project.  When we’re finished, we do our best to incorporate the key takeaways into how we view segmentation as a methodology and, perhaps, a discipline. 

Something we really enjoy is taking the time to share those unique lessons with the larger research community.  On Wednesday, Jim Garrity and Ameriprise Financial’s Bob Biancamano will conduct a webinar that reviews a strategic/attitudinal segmentation project.  They’ll take you through a grassroots project from soup to nuts.  Ever wondered what to do when questions need answers and there is no obvious champion?  This is your chance to find out.

As a preview, I’ll leave you with the ideas that guided the research design. 

  1. Start with the End in Mind: Establish your business objectives and how research will be used before you begin
  2. Allow for Multiple Bases: Take a comprehensive, model-based approach, that incorporates all potential bases
  3. Have an Open Mind: Let the segments define themselves
  4. Anticipate Tradeoffs: Each scheme has different strengths
  5. Leverage Existing Resources: Harness the power of your internal databases
  6. Evangelize:  Demystify the segments to executives and users

How many “C’s” can you spot?  What’s the first idea they kept in mind?  Experience, consistency, and an open mind.  That’s how we “do” segmentation at CMB.

Join Bob Biancamano of Ameriprise Financial and Jim Garrity of Chadwick Martin Bailey as they present B2C Market Segmentation for Intermediated Businesses: The Case of Ameriprise on Wednesday April 27th at noon ET.  Register here.

Topics: financial services research, webinar, market strategy and segmentation

Glad Our Nation's Teens are in Good Hands

Posted by Julie Kurd

Wed, Aug 11, 2010

Are you scared when Market Research blogyou see teens (or anyone) texting while driving? I just read a recent Marketing Daily article that talks about Allstate’s latest education initiative “X the TXT” that encourages teens to stop texting while driving. Allstate’s campaign leverages the marketing power of Jordin Sparks and the Jonas Brothers. Last year Jordin held her ‘Battlefield’ tour with a 29 city ‘X the TXT’ event/messaging and this year, the Jonas Brothers just began their 12 city "Road Dogs X the TXT" softball tour. I like this campaign for 3 reasons:

1. The Initiative- Allstate takes a leadership position on one of deadliest trends facing teens (and facing all of us who share lanes with them).

2. The Tools- Sure it’s a campaign that benefits Allstate, but it is one with purpose and one that offers parents the tools to facilitate a conversation. It's is a valuable influence on our nation. Rather than unleashing their inner preacher, Allstate has also created a delightful 32 second ‘mayhem’ parody to enlist teens to make good choices. From concerts to YouTube, Allstate is communicating with teens on their turf and in their language (and in a pink car).


3. The Approach- Allstate is using a multi channel approach to modify teen behavior using a variety of relevant media platforms. Allstate understands that it really is a ‘battlefield’ (go Jordin) out there to captivate, enlist, and modify behavior of the mighty teen, and that messaging needs to play ‘softball’ (Go JoBros) NOT ‘hardball.’ According to 85,000 teens who already took the Allstate ‘X the TXT’ pledge… it’s fun, interactive and teens get to hear people like Jordin Sparks tell them directly ‘I’ll be supporting you’. With half of driving teens admitting to being extremely distracted by texting and instant messaging while driving, per an Allstate Foundation study, I’m glad that our nation’s teens are ‘in good hands’.

Posted by Julie Kurd. Julie is a Director on CMB's Financial Services/Insurance and Healthcare Practice who loves ski racing, Tuckerman’s Ravine, sailing and bananagrams. You can follow her @julie1research

customer loyalty webinar



Topics: financial services research, advertising

Fame or shame. . .It’s all in the industry (or the household)

Posted by Julie Kurd

Mon, Jun 07, 2010

Have you seen the MSN Money Hall of Fame  and/or the MSN Money Hall of Shame?  The fame hall lists the top ten best companies for customer service while the shame hall lists the ten worst.  When the list came out I asked my 7 year old to "name companies you think are the best companies in the world." And not surprisingly he was able to guess two (yes, a 7 year old's unaided awareness) of the top ten.  These are the companies that we love to love in those easy to please industries...cool, whiz bang products, exceptional advertising, mass distribution, etc.

The trickier part is the Hall of Shame list.  And working within the financial services realm, it was disheartening but not shocking to see that 50% of the list is made up of financial services firms.

Here's one mother's take on these halls of fame and shame.... these corridors of our lives, because financial services companies, like mothers of teens, are overrepresented in the hall of shame.

Hall of Fame.  I'm personally in my household's hall of fame.  My youngest child still holds my hand when we walk.  He can't wait to share his day with me and he knows that I am fabulous at everything related to making his life more fun, safer, and happier.   If he were rating me from a customer service perspective, I'd get all ‘excellent' and ‘good' marks (and hopefully he would recommend me to a friend.)    Companies in the MSN Money Hall of Fame have attributes or value propositions that are similar to my personal capital with my son.  He LOVES mommy.  We LOVE Apple.

 

Top Ten Mothers and Leading Customer Services Company Commonality

Our advocates:

  1. Love us and everything we symbolize. Emulate us. Want to affiliate with us.
  2. Want others to know they're connected to us.
  3. Trust us to make them feel safe and secure.
  4. Know we empathize with them when they need a little extra listening.
  5. Know we anticipate their needs and have ‘apps' to help them live better and we always have their best interests at heart.
  6. Respect us and know they're respected by us.
  7. Chitter chatter or tweet about our amazingness to others.
  8. Think up cool ideas and inventions and let us know so we can incorporate them into our dominion.
  9. Are certain that we've thought about their pain points and have an ability to anticipate their upcoming problems.
  10. We offer them things (words, products) that ease their condition and infuse their day to day lives with logistical support, relief, and playfulness.

 

Hall of Shame. Sad to say it, but I am also in my household's hall of shame. My pre-teen has a more mature and admittedly more accurate eye for nuance. If she were rating me from a customer service perspective, her expectations far exceed my abilities. Her frustration is exacerbated by my flub ups and she's very vocal about all the ways I've slighted her. No shortage of parallels here... 

 

Top Ten Mothers and Shameful Customer Services Company Commonality

Our detractors (children, customers):

  1. Expect us (and we expect ourselves) to first thank them for their negative feedback and assure them that we are listening 
  2. Feel slighted by every move we make.  Everything we mess up, every corrective action we try to take...everything, everything irritates them and is our fault
  3. Always have to wait way too long, whether they're at the top of the stairs yelling their guts out or on a xx minute phone hold, waiting for service
  4. Are certain we take them for granted and feel they have little choice but to pout and bear it
  5. Expect us to do that thing they asked us to do 10 times but we always seem to be working on something else like a dummy
  6. Expect simple things, all strung together, should be equally easy to accomplish ....as we juggle all the daily transactions in life, we come up short... I am no magician...I can't get milk for cereal from the fridge while I'm straightening my older child's hair in the bathroom, plus snacks for school and...you know....  Just can't be done.  We've either failed to ‘staff' appropriately or failed reward self directed behavior and wean them from needing us at certain minutes of the day
  7. They don't want to switch distribution channels....it's easier for us if they service themselves AND if they do, they get what they want and faster but they want to stand at the top of the stairs and scream ‘where's my shoes' and they want us to give them a location +/- 2 feet...'not those shoes, c'mon'.   
  8. Everything we do is SO ANNOYING
  9. We stink by definition.  We don't understand.  
  10. We really, really stink

Mothers and financial services companies both have a knack for irritating our minions.  We fall down because we do not fully understand our customers' needs and goals or offer products and services that are truly customer focused. 

We need to put brand promises and customer experience in a model that is actionable and sustainable.  We need to prioritize and fix the things that matter most to our constituents, plus maybe engage and transport them (but in a cool car please).  We may need to reinvent ourselves and become someone new (like Umpqua Bank) or uber-benefit oriented (like ING Direct), or offer cool looking plastic for their wallets that do something that's rechargeable and reloadable and maybe sings a jaunty tune.   It is more work than giving out a quick treat or some points, but in the end the effort is worth it.

While moms and financial services firms may never fully satisfy their harshest critics, we need to listen, fix, and communicate.  Listen, fix, communicate...

 customer loyalty webinar 

Posted by Julie Kurd. Julie works on the Financial Services/ Healthcare team and thinks a lot about coffee, market research, Boggle, ski racing, sailing and the world of tomorrow. You can follow her on Twitter @juliekurd

Topics: financial services research, customer experience and loyalty

Using Mobile Technology to Better Serve and Connect with Customers

Posted by Kristen Garvey

Thu, Apr 29, 2010

In this week's issue of Marketing News, Lightspeed Research released a really interesting study on Americans' usage and attitude towards mobile phones and mobile phone marketing. The study of close to 1200 US consumers shows 54% of smartphone owners say they have downloaded a mobile app in the last 6 months. And over 40% say they access the internet at least once per day.

The fact is consumers are using mobile devices for so much more we ever imagined and in a wider array of both functional and mindless ways. Open up Shazam and you can identify and buy the song you are listening on the radio on your Blackberry or iPhone.  Scan the bar code at Target and see if you can get a better deal somewhere else.  Apple (and now Droid) got it right when they said "there's an app for that". Just like we are now "trained" to turn to the internet for information, we are not far from regularly turning to our phone to do the same.

As mobile devices change consumer behaviors and expectations, more and more businesses are tapping into this marketing opportunity and connecting with customers to provide a better service experience and the convenience mobile technology offers.

Along with retail/e-commerce, banking has been one of the most affected industries that we serve. Jim Garrity, CMB's managing director of our financial practice, just wrote a fantastic article in the May issue of ABA Bank Marketing that talks about how smaller regional banks are using mobile apps like ATM locators to better serve their customers and better compete with the big guys. It used to be the larger banks had the competitive advantage because of the sheer convenience their vast ATM networks offered.

Smaller community banks then joined larger ATM networks to better compete by offering more ATM's in more locations, but customers often could not find them or could not easily identify which ATMS were in their network. Now smaller community banks are using mobile technology to help customers find ATM's in their network all from the convenience of their mobile device. Good examples are MyATM and Allpoint's mobile app called Go-Everywhere which helps customers find over 37,000 surcharge-free ATMs.

Using mobile apps has leveled the playing field and allows the community banks to better compete and requires bigger banks to respect their smaller competitors. Read more of Jim's article ATM Locators: Your Lead-in To Full Mobile in the May issue of ABA Bank Marketing

Where is your opportunity in the mobile market? Surely "there's an app for that"!

Also, check out Josh Mendelsohn's post 1 Topic, 5 Blogs: Mobile Surveys in Market Research to read more about using mobile technology as a research tool.

Posted by Kristen Garvey.  Kristen is CMB's Director of Communications, a mother of two, and loves mobile technology.

Topics: technology research, financial services research, mobile, travel and hospitality research, customer experience and loyalty, retail research

A world without bank branches?

Posted by Julie Kurd

Thu, Mar 25, 2010

I was recently in San Francisco and decided to check out "mausoleum row," a stretch of the city with elegant and stately bank branches after bank branches after bank branches....a historic financial district street that shouts "I'm here forever."  

While staring at this impressive, but seemingly outdated, group of buildings all I could hear was what my daughter might say looking at the same scene, "banks, get over yourself."

Does my household really need to bank at a branch anymore, now that we have an ATM, credit/debit cards and a mobile phone?  Maybe we should look for a company without a bank branch within 2 miles of my house, the standard distance most banks have acknowledged as the ‘deal maker/breaker' to earn customers and receive high satisfaction scores.  If a bank didn't have a branch within 2 miles of my home or office, maybe it would mean the banks might be spending less money on things that don't matter to me!

And even further, does my household even need cash anymore?  Everything from fast food chains to cabbies accept plastic right now.  Even the transit line and parking meters are cashless in most major cities.   While we have to replenish with a check, even my kids' school lunch payments are automated.  Even my kids' spare change is on an individualized, prepaid reloadable card.   

Admittedly, I am not an early adopter.  So, when I am thinking hard about getting away from traditional banking processes it means I am not alone.  Financial institutions need to recognize that the basic needs of customers are rapidly evolving and adjust.   In an increasingly paperless world, banks need to put themselves in the shoes of their customers and ask "what do I need from my bank and what can my bank do to help me meet my goals?" 

Segmentation Best Practices webinar

April 29th at Noon: Chadwick Martin Bailey's Brant Cruz will present best practices of market segmentation based on his years of experience he has as CMB's segmentation guru working with clients like eBay, Electronic Arts, Plantronics, and Microsoft.

Register here.

Posted by Julie Kurd. Julie is a Director on CMB's Financial Services, Healthcare, and Insurance Practice.

 

Topics: financial services research, mobile

Conference Roundup: IIR USA's Prepaid Expo

Posted by Julie Kurd

Thu, Mar 11, 2010

Pre-Paid Expo

1,700 of us converged in Vegas at IIR's Prepaid Conference in February to talk about this new frontier business, "pre-paid"(think about it as your money (you know, debit) available to you anytime, anywhere). 

We used to think of prepaid simply as a prepaid debit card but now the prepaid world is converging with the mobile applications world and a magical thing is happening...in the near future you may not need your wallet anymore, because your phone is holding everything, including your money.  Some of the smartest frontiersmen and women from the Fortune 500 spoke, presented, mingled and shared thoughts about the world of tomorrow.   

When one thinks of the staggering estimate of 70,000,000 people who are ‘unbanked' or ‘under banked,' that is, living paycheck to paycheck, overdrawing their bank accounts to steep fees (if they still have an account), sometimes using pawn shops, payday loans and other financial instruments that come with steep fees, the prepaid world is asking: Why couldn't life be better for these people?  Why couldn't the money just arrive on a card in their wallet on payday?  Or better yet, why couldn't the money just zip over to their mobile phone? 

And if they're transferring money to loved ones in foreign countries, why couldn't you send it via your phone and get a reply message back when the recipient actually receives the money (and what amount they actually received)?  Why couldn't governments save millions of dollars by using pre-paid to reduce administrative burdens of check administration?   

Many of the leaders in the prepaid industry attended and spoke at the conference.  Some of the highlights:

  • Brian Triplett, VISA talked about the broad opportunity to have better public/private relationships and partnerships. He got us all thinking about how we can better partner with government entities in a way to drive better value to the constituent base. He interviewed former President Bill Clinton as well. Together, they explored the central concept of infrastructure and ‘the old way of doing business' being a key constraint as well as how prepaid can transform the administrative burden for the healthcare industry, government payments (unemployment, social security, Medicare, jury duty, employees etc.).

  • Alpesh Choksi, AmEx President Prepaid spoke about how he expects prepaid to transform the lives of people all over the world. He says that the economic crisis has helped with articulating financial security, safety and control which is exactly what prepaid provides. People are now connected to their money in new, non-traditional networks. New devices are being born every day and two-way devices such as phones now allow people to service differently... direct to consumer tailored marketing campaigns based on location etc. are really not at all far-fetched or constrained by budgets or tools anymore.

  • Laura Kelly, SVP of Global Prepaid and Healthcare for MasterCard talked about prepaid as being ‘smarter, bigger, better.' These are not small splashes...Her "Smarter" stood for the innovation as evidenced by the Easy Link prepaid card in Singapore which is both a transit card AND a shopping card. Her "Bigger" is a walloping large payroll program launched by WalMart that saved 258,000 pounds of paper and gas for associates to drive to the store for their paycheck. Finally, her "Better" stood for better for the consumer. She used the example of social security prepaid cards that are now being used by nearly 900,000 people in this country to provide a more secure way of getting money directly to the people who need it without fear of checks disappearing from mailboxes.

  • Farhan Ahmad, GM of Emerging Business at Discover talked about the need to get new innovative products to market in less than 6 months. No small feat for a large company. He and his team are considering mobile payments as an emerging solution that can fundamentally affect the infrastructure for the USA with "better, safer, more convenient access to people's money where/when they need it."

 

Segmentation Best Practices webinar

April 29th at Noon: Chadwick Martin Bailey's Brant Cruz will present best practices of market segmentation based on his years of experience he has as CMB's segmentation guru working with clients like eBay, Electronic Arts, Plantronics, and Microsoft.

Register here.


Learn more about the Prepaid Expo or watch some of what these leaders are talking about below.

 

Posted by Julie Kurd. Julie is a Director on CMB's Financial Services, Healthcare, and Insurance Practice.

Topics: financial services research, conference recap

The financial services landscape is changing, is iTunes my new bank?

Posted by Julie Kurd

Fri, Jan 29, 2010

As everyone knows, on January 12 Haiti was devastated by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake.  In the days following the disaster lots of organizations rang bells and helped us all transfer money to the relief effort.  One big difference from the past occurred to me as we considered the best way to help... The people making it easy to transfer money weren't financial institutions.

In an email from Apple I was told that I should "Donate on iTunes - it's as easy as buying a song."  Verizon told me all I had to do to make a $10 donation to the American Red Cross is to text 90999 with the word "HAITI" and then I'd receive a (free to me) text response to confirm my $10 donation, all of which would go to aid.  My donation would appear on my bill.   

I went to Amazon to buy a book and it says I can donate with Amazon payments to Haiti.  And for eBay of course, I always can transfer money using PayPal account.  My cousin, who's an artist, is donating 100% of the proceeds of his artwork on Imagekind.com, a CafePress company. 

In many cases, my children are involved in donations to worthy causes.  As I was collecting my 10 and 7 year old's physical cash and making my electronic donation, the conversation drifts... How many people may be buried alive?  Can people swim to safety?  What if their moms and dads are dead?  How did Giselle mail her $1.5M donation to Haiti? How can we save so we can help more

When I was younger, the solution was simple.  Get a passbook at the bank and encourage savings, allowing children to spend on the things important to them.  But now the real banks assess fees for low balances and those lollipops can be found at the hairdresser, which we visit with more frequency. 

My kids affiliate with those relevant, exciting and trustworthy companies that make it easier than ever to donate.  As relief organizations circumvent traditional financial institutions and deal directly with consumers, and with the ease of transactions and evolving technology, I can't help but wonder: are iTunes and eBay my new banks?

 

Segmentation Best Practices webinar

Chadwick Martin Bailey's Brant Cruz will present best practices of market segmentation based on his years of experience he has as CMB's segmentation guru working with clients like eBay, Electronic Arts, Plantronics, and Microsoft.

Register here to watch the full Webinar.

Julie Kurd is a Director on CMB's Financial Services and Insurance Practice.    

Topics: financial services research