I thought I’d start by laying some knowledge on you that I picked up during a few of the better sessions I attended. Wanna hear it? Here it go:
Insight from the Outside – Consumers from the Retailer View
Lisa Hake, Best Buy’s director of customer insight strategy, walked the group through Best Buy’s methodology for collecting, analyzing and reacting to customer expectations. Lisa did a great job of describing what is truly a fascinating approach to measuring consumer motivations, beliefs and attitudes, not just steel-cold preference stats. The bad news is that it takes a Best Buy budget to even approach what the retailing giant does with customer analytics. That said, I did find a couple great GonzoNuggets in Lisa’s presentation:
Mobile in Context – A Longitudinal Look at the Impact on Financial Services
This session, led by some real pros from AlixPartners and BAI, was one of the many that was long on stats but dreadfully short on tangible advice. Don’t get me wrong, the stats were interesting and entertainingly presented, but I think we all get the message now that mobile is growing quickly, even geezers use mobile banking, but young people value mobile the most. A clear message from Alix was that banks have to Go Big or Go Home when it comes to digital wallets, but no one really knows how exactly to define digital wallet yet. When I asked what, therefore, should banks do in a big way or face being sent home when it comes to digital wallet, they basically just said it doesn’t matter – consumers just want to feel like they’re getting value from their phone for banking. Just start doing something – anything – and promote the hell out of whatever you decide to do. Yeesh. GonzoNugget:
Driving DDA Profitability Through Payments Optimization
Ben Colvin of MasterCard moderated a two person panel – Chris Dods from First Hawaiian Bank ($16B) and Geoffrey Brown from Sovereign Bank ($80+B) – in discussing how to go deep on customer analytics to increase debit card usage. It was a glorified MasterCard consulting advertisement, but it did reinforce the importance of the debit card in consumer banking relationship (and revenue) management. GonzoNugget:
Mobile Payments: Where Do Banks Fit In?
The affable Lee Manfred from First Annapolis Consulting led a panel of experts from VISA, Paydiant, Cap One, and US Bank to discuss exactly what the title of the session implies. The frustrating answer to that question: We have no idea, but you better not wait around until the answer emerges.
I can’t really cry foul over anyone’s current inability to predict the uncertain future of mobile payments at banks. No, the exasperating element of the panel was their advice to try a bunch of different technologies and hope one sticks. That’s great advice if you have an 8- or 9-digit disposable technology budget.
Firsthand: Small Business Payments Needs
Hope Felton-Miller of Felton Willis led a panel of four small business owners – whose businesses ranged from under $100,000 to $3 million in revenues – thorough a series of questions regarding banking and payments needs. It was the most pragmatic, eye-opening session of the conference. What struck me was how little the business owners understood about the products and services that are available to them (one didn’t know there was a way to link QuickBooks to online banking) and how few are ever contacted proactively by their banker or a competing banker. This just adds fuel to my theory that banks are way more talk than walk when it comes to small business. GonzoNuggets:
Best quote of the conference? This came from an almost straight-faced Dan Schatt of PayPal: “We want to enable commerce, not compete with banks.” No one – and I mean NO ONE – in the room laughed or threw a rock.
The 2013 BAI Payments trade show was packed full of great speakers and excellent information, but it was ultra light on practical advice.
There is no shame in an inability to predict the future. The truth is, the pace of change with payments products, vendors, delivery channels, etc., is so rapid that no one really even knows where we are with much certainty, much less can they predict what will happen or give bankers sound advice about what to do. What left my fellow attendees and I so consistently frustrated at the end of most of these sessions was the speakers’ meaningless advice to just do something, anything, so you don’t “get left behind.” The advice felt like a massive cop-out. Any attempts to get specifics from the speakers got shut down with zeal and spite.
It’s fine to tell bankers to just lay down a small bet on each spot on the roulette table and hone your bets with each spin. That works for the Top 20 banks that can afford such a strategy, but it’s certainly not going to fly at a mid-size bank. Hell, mid-size banks are lucky to find enough budgetary open-mindedness to place the minimum bet on one number for one spin of the wheel.
But have no fear, GonzoBanker is here. What did we do 15 years ago with Internet banking or 30 years ago with ATMs – the last two technologies that threatened to shut down our branch systems forever? We stuck with well known vendors and/or vendors with whom we were doing other types of business. Then, as the market matured, we ventured out with the specialist vendors who established niches in the areas that were important to us.
And that is exactly what mid-size banks and large credit unions should do now. Noted payments expert and fellow GonzoBanker Terence Roche and I devised the following advice regarding payments if you happen to find yourself in a bank or credit union with somewhere south of $100 billion in assets:
All for now, GonzoBankers.
Number of free GonzoBanker t-shirts surreptitiously handed out at the Vendor Expo: 47
Run-ins with BAI security goons: O
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