This Week in Engagement Banking David Pogue for the NYTimes writes about how digital payments are being enhanced by voice, and Blackberry is portrayed widely as dying on the vine, but there are lessons for banks in the debacle as Bankwatch lets us know. Plus, apparently those succeeding at online banking from a customer perspective have live web chat to thank. Furthermore, there’s an interesting account from Chris Skinner of a great article from Wired on Square’s beginnings.
Pay by Voice? So Long, Wallet
A lot of the things we do today will make our grandchildren burst out laughing. Yes, we used to drive to a store to rent a movie. Yes, there were huge patches of America where you couldn’t get a cellphone signal. Yes, we used to pay for things with pieces of green paper and plastic rectangles. With an iPad in use as a register, Square merchants can swipe a credit card to complete a transaction. Using ‘Pay with Square’ makes the credit card unnecessary — the register recognizes the customer automatically. And if those squealing rugrats don’t believe us, we can crack open the history book to 2012, the dawn of the twilight of cash and credit cards. That was the year when, for the first time, paying for things in stores required nothing more than saying your name to the cashier. But first, some history. In 2010, a company called Square invented a credit card reader in the shape of a tiny white plastic square. It pops into the headphone jack of your iPhone, Android phone or tablet. More. . .
Banks Under Pressure to Add Live Chat to Websites
Keynote Systems is out with its recurring list of the top performing bank websites, and the data behind the data suggests one way to win the hearts and minds is through live web chat. That news isn’t as good as it sounds, since live web chat is not the easiest or cheapest thing in the world for a financial institution to pull off. “When you offer live chat, you have to staff it with people with real time communication skills. You have to be able to give an immediate response, and be able to roll with the comments you may get online. Then you also have to have the writing skills of a good email rep. These people are hard to find. It’s a rare breed because you’re talking about two different skills that you normally don’t have in one person,” says Chris Musto, general manager of Keynote Competitive Research at Keynote Systems. Bank of America (BAC), which ranked particularly well in Keynote’s Banker Scorecard, has offered live web chat for a couple of years. While Musto says Keynote doesn’t directly study the performance of live web chat, the firm has noted an increase in customer satisfaction and ease of use measurements at BofA and other banks that offer live web chat that has followed the introduction of that feature. More. . .
The debacle of Blackberry and the message for Banks
I grew up with Blackberry. In 1999 I was one of a few (< 30) people at my bank with the original Blackberry. Yes that would be the one on he left. It was magic. Finally I had the power of a computer in my pocket. I was the only one on the subway in those days reading today’s news offline. But of course I wanted more. I used several more iterations of Blackberry and was still quite happy until 2007. The five years since then (yes its only 5 years) have killed RIM. Their refusal to accept the shift to a full screen/ virtual keyboard killed the company. The Sunday Times reports today that RIM is considering a plan to split its handset division and messaging network into two separate companies, and will sell off the struggling BlackBerry hardware business. The British paper doesn’t cite any sources in the report, but it says that Facebook and Amazon are both “potential buyers.” As part of this plan, RIM could keep its enterprise-friendly messaging and data network (including BBM, BIS, and BES) in-house and license them out — a move championed by former co-CEO Jim Balsillie prior to his departure from the company. Alternatively, RIM may sell the network services division, too. The Waterloo-based company has been working with RBC and JP Morgan since earlier this year to conduct a strategic review, and The Sunday Times says the plan is one option drawn up during the process of the review. Another option, short of splitting the company in two, would be to sell a large stake to a corporation like Microsoft. . . . How do you select the challenges that are game changing. That is the question for banks when they look at Paypal, BankSimple, Fidor and others – when should they be worried? More. . .
Square: the Apple of finance
In case you didn’t see it, Wired magazine ran an article about Jack Dorsey and Square this month. Throughout the article, they compare Jack Dorsey to Steve Jobs and Square with Apple. In a long opening – the first page is just about pouring tea! – they finally get to the crunch so here’s my shorter, edited version: Square may be best known for its dongle, but Dorsey says that’s just the beginning. He envisions the company as a vast ecosystem that humanizes every act of commerce. Its current products and services have already made a lot of headway. Dorsey first showed me his payment app in the summer of 2009. He took me to his apartment in a high rise overlooking the bustling plaza of the old US Mint. Hovering over the kitchen counter, Dorsey explained that he was going to empower everyone to accept cashless payments. He took a piece of white plastic shaped roughly like an acorn, jammed it into the earphone jack of his iPhone, and asked me for my credit card. When I produced it, he swiped it through a slot on the acorn. Then he had me sign the screen with my finger and enter my email. When I checked my own iPhone, I had a message noting that I’d paid Jack Dorsey $1. A Google Maps image marked the location of the transaction. Dorsey was beaming like a proud parent. More. . .
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