Thoughts From PAYMENTS 2012
These conferences are always a reunion for me, providing an opportunity to meet with former colleagues and customers that I don’t have a chance to interact with on a regular basis. My interest, beyond the social aspects, was focused on mobile for corporate banking. I have noticed a slowly growing interest, with a smattering of offerings in the market, but most FI’s, as well as technology providers, have been taking a “wait and see” approach. Quite a few of these offerings are simply consumer products rebranded as mobile business banking. For most, this is not a bad approach, as many small businesses are not that far removed from the consumer market so it’s a natural extension.
Offering a small business owner the ability to deposit checks and/or pay bills via their phone while moving from job site to job site is certainly compelling, sparing a trip to the bank and untethering them from their office, if they even have an office. This affords them more time to run their business. Most cash management solutions are geared towards firms with people sitting in offices, managing cash as part of their job. From the financial institution’s perspective, the opportunity to expand the market for some of the fee based services traditionally available only to those office dwellers should be appealing, thus worth exploring. Some are already doing it.
Being a payments conference, the bulk of the mobile sessions at PAYMENTS 2012 concentrated on transactions. No surprise there, an understandably fitting. But it did get me thinking… what about mobile beyond transactions? How about mobile enabling bank employees that go out into the field to sell those services or advise clients? The insurance industry recognized the value of mobile enabling their advisors and producers, and has been outfitting their field personnel with tablet based applications, or at least making their internal applications tablet friendly for their employees. Automation and self-service have made banking less personal, but there’s an opportunity to re-introduce the personal touch through use of interactive tablet applications that a bank employee can share, side-by-side with a customer, helping provide that personal touch without losing the value of automation. If you have had the misfortune of being in a hospital recently, you may have noticed the heavy use of mobile technology to manage and record activity. For example, nurses scanning barcodes on patient wristbands and medicines, recording dosage and time using a mobile device. Even auto dealerships are using mobile for internal operations to become more efficient. I can’t say I’ve seen much of that in banking yet, but I believe the opportunity is there, particularly with corporate banking, whether it’s for the bank’s field staff or that of the bank’s corporate customers, probably both.