Be ready or be dead!

"If you Know Yourself and you know your enemies, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles..."

- Sun Tzu -

Monday, July 10, 2017

exploiting the big data

Let's visit the Marketplace, data comes from everywhere, Social Networks, Telcos,  Retail expenses,  clothing preferences, education records, Uber rides, Foursquare check ins and likes,  Airbnb reservations due leisure or work. Just to name a few and we can go further, ATM's visits than can trace the geographic area of our customer influence.

We can predict customer expenses based on consumption habits, as we can geotag we can also be like credit card cops, simply detecting the customer's current location and credit card current debit place.
Even we could predict cash usage, not difficult at all. But What can we do with this humongous-information.
The first approach to create really disruptive services that can compete with quite focused FinTech ones is to understand what the customer wants, what is he used to do.
 No matter if we deal with millenials or Baby Boomers, customers have specific behaviors, they left their tracks, and Big Data with her friends IA, Analytic engines, etc, is able to show us the right path for deploying business.

Yes, you can name other actors such Blockchain, but this in the end is a technology not a business model. In Telco´s words: We need to fight back Churn. Why out customers are leaving for FinTech services. When Uber hit the market, it was clear that a flexible payment channel should be his spine for offering its service, now Uber´s customer can use Paypal or Credit Cards. What about the unbanked? How one of them could effectively access services such Airbnb, or Online stores.

A few years back, companies were crazy about BI, deploying complex boards to check for its data, transformed in bars and curves. Then the Big Data explosion comes to scene changing some variables but the Control Panel is still here with new visualization tools. Just that the Control Panel needs fresh ideas, something to push the data mining to undiscovered universes.

We have data: Knowledge, we have the Blue Ocean ahead, the first one to hit will hit harder and will establish models and needs. The human being tends to gets  accustomed to comfort, for us any discomfort creates an obnoxious experience. That`s why Data processing should help to offer better experiences.

Once and for all, financial services should abandon the brick and  mortar and traditional web models, try to use mobile devices, IoT, explode the gray internet and obscure data, transform services such transportation to implement revolutionary services. On the other hand redefine complex processes and study new ways of securing information.

Turn to new technologies and players, yes it is fair, but getting advantage of data.

Staying ahead with the right SEO for Mobile

The use of mobile devices is, as everybody knows, in a stunning rampant growth, New devices are launched by giants as Apple, Samsung, HTC and others and users are avid buyers of fresh technology. But users want the right content displayed in their fancy and expensive mobiles, if they do not find the right content or service they are always eager to switch for the service provider that fulfill their needs.

Users are looking for information in internet before buying or signing for services, they use more and more its current location to searching for physical places or to reach services (taxis for example). Back in 2010, Google started to offer Places, by using such service local business can be present in internet even without a web page. If small business can be present and be able to be reached by thousands of web navigators, what is happening with banks? Even the Rockies can use internet tools to sell services or products at low cost,  so are doing stablished brands too. But there are some customers’ requirements that are yet to be fulfilled, for instance enable your position sharing in your mobile and ask for your bank agencies near you. What happened? Did you got a flat results page or maps with flags to identify the nearest branch?

Searching from mobiles?

Yes, you search from your mobile and what the heck!  A lot of searching comes from such devices and revenue from mobile searching is increasing.  At this point in the life, a lot of banks have changed their web sites interfaces to be mobile friendly. But there are still web pages using Flash and Jscript in ways that are not usable in mobile phones. Content is sometimes impossible to reach, other there are pages that offer a frustrating user experience and this list of problems is lengthy.
Anyway, other factor to consider when you think about mobiles and your site is the possibility that web search engines can find your mobile site formatting useful.  I am talking about SEO for mobiles, specifically for banks. No doubt that this is also applicable to other business as well.  Think that if you already have a good positioning for traditional search you should be good at mobile searches.
Have you heard about transcoding from mobile search engines, if not this one is for you. Mobile Robots are quite specifics to search “mobile sites” , such spiders do additional analysis to be sure that the found site behaves adaptively to mobile devices. If engine find that the site’s content is not very trustful at showing its content they transcode the site when users click or tap on the link. Transcoding means that the site is shown using a formatting that is “guaranteed” to be displayed at mobiles. I have included in this link the test for, using Google Mobilizer for you to see how a good transcoded page looks like, or just point to enter your web address and check to see if you like how you site looks.
Sadly, I found that a lot of banks are years behind top technical directives, they should check that their sites are “Mobile”, that is sites that are completely viewable from mobile devices.  New mobile applications like Square Cash use minimalist interfaces, but that is not always the case of institutional web sites.  There are heavy tasks to execute to assure that your mobile site is really mobile, luckily we can have a short list of them: 
1.       Try using just HTML5. Get rid of JavaScript , Flash or other proprietary formats that can be showed in mobile devices
2.       If your pages are slow at loading or have those automatic refreshing features, do extensive optimization.

You have a growing number of mobile users

Probably starting from you, you check for web content that comes from different sources, one of them is your bank.  Do you know what are looking for your mobile customers? What is the star product in your mobile world?

Monday, October 24, 2016

Big Data and customers’ retention

As any other business, banking relies heavily on its customers. Is it possible to predict if any customer is about to leave? Well, starting from the fact that keeping customers under your umbrella costs less than acquiring new ones we are in a good path. Acquiring new customers cost from 5 to 15 times more than retaining current ones.

Let´s suppose we have Loui who all Mondays goes to the ATM for his customary $100, all of a sudden Loui transactions begin to be scarce or inexistent. Loui is about to leave but we do not know why. And the worst is that we barely notice about Loui among all our customers. How important is to predict customers who move off from our bank? Which kind of data do we need to analyze?

Our mission is to predict customer’s departure before it actually happens to retain him. Data that comes to our help include: number of contracted products, savings evolution or account movement, occupation, claims, demographic data, etc.

Other source is the one that the bank has collected from lost customers, who had left the bank. Behavioral patterns are there.

Moreover, there are different kind of “break ups” to design and build maps of departure, profile of customers who leave, most common channels that originate such response from our customers, geographic zones, products, and related data.  

What do we obtain from such analysis?

1.       To   know which customers’ segment should be care and kept.

2.       Plans and strategies to respond before customer relinquishment. We can know with anticipation when, who and why.

3.       Increase customer’s satisfaction and fidelity by knowing his needs in a better way.  consumption

How to analyze
·         External Sources that have information about demographics, employment status and current personal status.
·         Social Networks
·         Fusion and analysis of structured and unstructured data
·         Interactive data visualization
·         Customer value that it is used as index of acquiring customers who potentially can leave  
·         Statistical external sources with expenditures/payments information.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Heading to the new banking applications

Innovation, and more "Innovation". This looks to be the constant when speaking about the bank of the future, but unfortunately for those that haven´t started to innovate, the future is now, something like "No Country for Old Men". I will now put some examples for applications that can make the difference in the vertical.

1. Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for banks.
The common problem to interact with systems it is the easy of use, friendliness, etc, whatever you call it. Natural Language to interact with decision making systems can allow a number of tasks and features. Combining the power of Big Data Analysis or no so big data but common data found in Core Banking glued with powerful artificial intelligence systems that allow the use of natural language for querying the system can make a real difference. For the interface the chances are: written text, voice commands or implicit alerts triggered to existing interfaces.

Customers can ask things like "How much I have been spending in clothing this year?" "What is my best investing option for home insurance?" "Please project my savings for the next 12 months".  Let´s think about the customer who can be alerted by an app in her mobile when trying to buy something that threatens her savings plan.

On the other hand banks can use this system with its task force, allow new staff to ask for advice when dealing with complex transactions or specific customers. Risk Management or Compliance can be greatly improved, safer and quicker decisions can arise from AI in this context.  The number of solutions derived from AI in banking is huge.

2. Social Networks Support
Banks can check a number of things in social, who say what about the bank or competition, what people like or dislike, and eventually answers with supporting advisory or guidelines to customers complaints or launches social campaigns. But people are gregarious, they like to met partners and doing business with each other. Sometimes are expenses shared within a group of people, so they need something to help them to split expenses, borrowing, paying and collecting money for special occasions. Families who can join forces for specific needs in a form of money savings or somebody who can prepay services and obtain discounts. Private social messaging can be useful to send alerts of invoices to overcome. Some banking services can use the security log-in from external user certification authorities like Google, Microsoft or Facebook and forget about complicated and tricky proprietary applications. Using a mobile application that complements the social support, customers can access financial advisory for savings, investments, money management.

3. Democratizing Credit Card Brands
Is it wise to use a high limit card for a low amount internet transaction? Maybe is just a matter of feeling safe.  If you have a low amount prepaid card you can use it to execute low amount internet transactions, to let your sons to use on weekends for going to amusement parks, etc. Such card is perfect for gifts. But here comes something different, a re-loadable gift card. Why you should throw away the gift card after consuming its money. In one way sounds ecological and on the other is a way to empower people that does not have banks accounts to have its own "credit card". Of course it is not a pure Credit Card but can use recognized brands such MasterCard, Visa or American Express. The business turn to complement the service  with discounts networks, and promotions.
Customers can easily load the basic card information to its mobile, card number and user id. Then customers can use its mobile instead the plastic and secure its use through a personal password and one time code when they are ready to pay for services or goods. In such application the customer can also load discount coupons instead of paper cut ones.

4. Social Inclusion
There are some initiatives to insert un-banked and under-banked in the banking system like the one partnered by FIS: :This solutions uses the same principles exposed with Remote Check Deposit, clients simply take a photo of checks and instantly receive the check amount less a low fee directly right in the mobile where the electronic wallet application resides. Really an easy piece of cake.
Other example is Kiwa they are a sort of micro credit facilitators. They manage the lending process having in one side organizations or institutions that put money available to lenders and on the other side they work with micro credit lenders, people who ask for small amounts of money to initiate or implement improvements in its business. Kiwa offers a set of analysts who are in charge of lender qualification and approval. Something like Kiwa is MrPresta, they use the same business model. but they are focused on people who sell stuff in "Mercado Libre", the auctions Latin American portal like eBay.

5. Breaking the egg

As the new born bird who needs to break its egg to be free in the nest, banks need to rethink some traditional behavior. When customers visit an on-line retail store such Amazon or eBay, they experience a comfortable environment, with a history of its recently viewed items and purchases, they receive news on new products that can be of its interest. They have offers and specialized verticals for music or videos. User can explore its shipping address or credit card information. Banks have information that can be used in the same way,  user should have chances to personalize its experience in the Bank´s portal, receive coupons or discounts from local providers, or special interest rates, be advised on investments. Banks need to think from its customers point of view and let away the baker spirit for a while. For instance one customer could make a list of projected expenditures and as soon as the month begins the internet bank system can present the available balance vs the monthly payments, as soon as the customer salary enters the account it can be divided and the customer can visualize the real status of its accounts.

I will come with other ideas in other posts, stay tuned.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Favoring fashion in Services

When you see anybody using her iPhone or wearing a Prada outfit, you think about fashion, status, and related things like that. Bank Services can be in that fad.  Does anyone can see such thing applied to banks? Maybe the answer can pop up in thousands of  different ways.  Out there are hordes of millennial, and other older technology lovers who want the services the easy way and be considered like very valuable collectible pieces for their banks, in the same way they impulse those services like a fashion trend.

It's clear that they do rely on their expensive gadgets to access banking services. FISERV conducted a survey on 2013, where they found that Millennial use more primary banking services than other generations. For they Debit Cards, Savings Accounts and Mobile Banking are top priorities.  The  "Trends in Consumer Mobility Report"from Bank of America   revealed that out of 1,000 U.S. adults, 47% admitted they would not last a day without their smartphone. About 85% of survey respondents check their mobile devices a few times a day, the report concluded. And the amazing "Believe or Not" fact is that 96% of adults between 18 and 24 years old believe using a mobile phone is more imperative than using the Internet or taking car of its personal hygiene. 

The same report shows that around 84% of interviewees declared to have visited branches but an astonishing 75% of them completed their transactions online or with a mobile device. It´s important to understand that everybody is wary about the importance of financial decisions.

No matter how much the Millennial depend on technology, they look for trustful advice. Something that leads them to branches. It's imperative for banks to bringing financial instructional  programs in the form of seminaries, continuous education programs and have the right people at hand  to answer specific questions. This should be best complement to FAQs and Chat on Line. For people, is very important setting financial goals and be advised by trusted financial sources such as branches employees. Under this point of view, branch´s personnel  will be fully trained in financial advisory, thus, the common monetary old branch transactions should be solved by other means but human intervention from the bank side.

So, what is "cool" in banking services? What does attract Gen Y to the bank? Advisory? Financial safety based on a good advice? Which on-line services are useful in one side and profitable  in the other? Profit comes from long relationship with customers, so, does  any loyal customer guarantee profitability? And every answer will find mobility as a part of it.

Customization in services can play a key differentiation among contestants for the major ,prize: millennial. Since they, Gen Y, use mobile technology extensively, it is logical to think about customized service platforms and services, ranging from personalized debit cards to omni-channel experience.

Usually, we can distinguish 3 kind of players; global banks, country  banks and small or local banks. Commonly, global banks are the first to adopt new technology. Old legacy systems often mean anchors that do not allow full deployment of new services without an enormous effort, sometimes with a bit of trial and error, the bad news is that big banks usually own those old legacy systems. Country Banks are committed to new technology and innovation in different levels of action, but small ones are not stars for carrying out innovation as first players, they do rely on proven technology, that's because they can not afford to fail in this field, but in contrast they use technology and services that has been 100% tested and guarantee a good user experience.

No matter if the brand new service and technology promises to catch up a lot of customers. In the end, the everlasting services and technology must be reliable.And it´s clear that when a successful service or technology emerges, it is "on fashion", and continues to transform in a classic, a commodity. Meanwhile, any effort addressed to understand Gen Y will be the best investment for future profit.



Friday, July 25, 2014

My bank is everywhere!

When you proudly say: This is my SON! is because you are so happy to let everybody know about your beloved son. Banks and other business should dream about proud customers speaking up: "My Bank" or "My Library" or whatever the case. But, when a customer, with eyes wide open and with a grateful surprise says "My Bank is everywhere!" and the following days proudly claims or feels something like "My Bank!" it means that the bank has done the right things.

The fact of being everywhere is a clear consequence of Omnichannel infrastructure and strategy. How hard or easy for any bank to be a real omnichannel service provider depends some times on the Core Banking System that supports every transaction.  Sometimes the internal infrastructure demands a lot of work, a brand new Enterprise Bussiness Bus, new servers, etc. Others just need to customize its intrincated or state of the art technological platform. Technically the solution exists.

The average customer wants to access her bank services at any time and be recognized as soon as she starts the choosen channel. As I stated in other opportunities, the user experience has run to be "Holy Grail" for Omnichannel experience. Consistency and real time integration need to be present, service quality, transactions availability, security (this demands other chapter) and performance are the key players to grade high in omnichannel.

One customer sometime asked "why do I need to invest all this money in multichannel services?" The answer can be so simple, "To be in the wave", nevertheless is not only being in the wave, it means to be full competitive, be able to keep and attract customers and develop healthy  relations that translate into profit.

Today,  with the enablement of digital channels and the advent of a 100% digital generation, the presence of multiple channels relying on a strong, multifunctional and diverse omnichannel platform can make the difference between desperate efforts of surviving or flourish. Any bank should understand that they will have diverse kind of customers, those old fashioned that can´t live without branches and the other pole who does not want to step into any branch. From them, the divergent are the last ones, because they look for convenience for ubiquous banking, they do not care to have a strong relationship with specific bank officers but with the bank. This mixture of interests force banks to have a lot of channels available to be used 7x24 all year long. Changes comes slowly, as demographics switch to the new wave of digital enabled ones.

Customers behavior changes from country to country, from region to region and from tribe to tribe. As a marketing specialist friend says: Now we have tribes of consumers, global groups that look for specific features and that are identified under the same consumer´s flag. A number of banks have been betting on branch transformation using models of video terminals, self assisted intelligent deposit  terminals and other devices but their goal to have all branches without personnel has been fruitless, since there are people who want to speak face to face with a human instead a video monitor.

Regarding this problem, I remember about the evolution of savings accounts user´s data. Back in 1994, in Columbia, South America. One popular bank decided to implement debit cards to replace passbooks. The project looked to produce a lot of savings for the bank, reduce the use of ink ribbons, passbooks´ distribution, be ahead of competition and a lot of more etc. But failed miserably. An important number of customers lived in rural areas and they rejected the idea of not seeing its movements printed in their passbooks.  Currently they have implemented massively the use of debit cards and vast number of customers rely on the information that can obtain at eny ATM or using internet or mobile channel, nonetheless they still have passbooks.

Prepare the blueprint, aprove it and then build it.

Most of us have dealt with opportunities like buying an sound system, dress or a house. The first thing we do is to be clear about what we like to have from our purchase or more, about our project if building a house is the case. The same principle comes to our hands when we deal with Omnichannel, strategy, planning, lots of planning need to be deployed before look after technology solutions. In the same way that you won´t buy a bolt whitout knowing if fits in that nut. Yes, it is possible to use special tools to our purpose of bolt fitting but this can turn the solution more expensive that the solver by itself.

A good planning stage will save time and money. As I pointed out above, the final technical solution comes from the current bank core and satellite systems. In some cases the solution will modify and wire interfaces among systems, others will replace entire solutions and the extreme case will need to build all the infrastructure from teh ground up.

The last year, one customer who liked to replace its widows forms based administrative interface was looking for a painless or at less not so painful process to have all interfaces in a web based environment. The real problem was to migrate its client-server architecture to a SOA architecture. They began their journey early the year before, and after hired a renowned company and suffered a failout, they opened wide their eyes just to find out that they need a omnichannel solution anchored in its platform. As a matter of fact they are now working with the omnichannel strategy in min, but they are no more the leaders they wanted to be.

Be prepared to win

The evolution of bank channels, sane way as retail touch points,  starts from the single channel, where customer uses the only available channel and the bank had centralized data information , then came multichannel, where custmers access their bank through any of the independent channels implemented at the bank and the bankcollected customer´s data from siloed channels by functional silos. The next step, put the bank in control over customer information but customers didn´t have the desired User Experience and banks still works in functional silos until Omnichannel emerged.

We can have channels such Branch, Contact/Call Center, ATM, On line banking, Mobile Banking, IVR Banking, SMS Banking, Kiosks and Self Service Banking (multifunction ATMs), Social Banking, Sales Point Banking, and even some people uses the term of Tablet Banking for other channel, I do prefer to call this last one: App Banking.

As you see, Branch stared everything and persists, that´s because we humans like to feel "human touch". Well, to have all headcount aware of Omnichannel opportunities, every group of workers need to be comunicated and understand what omnichannel means in terms of data and information that flows through all implemented channels and is available in different administrative or customer service stations. Banks need to have implemented a really structured communication workflow that starts from its administrative heads.

When the bank has addopted omnichannel, the principles of discussed branch transformation, where any employee can access any customer data in real time at the right time, the customer can start to experience the new service level, an amazing customer experience.

The strategy should break the culture of functional silos and siloed channels, the bank´s personnel should turn to see the customer in a 360° view and be able to interact with the customer using this information power that constitutes a rich arsenal. These weapons, for building lasting relationships and to generate the possible best profit, come from an omnichannel culture that comes hand in hand by Ubiquitous Banking or OmniBank, you name it.

Monday, May 26, 2014

What about banking cores in Cloud?

First time that something like Cloud bases solutions for Core Banking came to my mind, looks like "costs saving model" or "economy of scale model", technically speaking the chance to have more control over code in just one location or distribution point than the common model of individual installations, if you know what I mean. The versions hell could come to an end. The model was so convincing that some other colleagues were thinking the same. "Yes, that´s the solution we were always looking for!"

And the dream did not end at that point, looked easy to grow. I came up with the design of a sort of Applications Market, a place where, the software house,  customers, partners, and developers with the right licence could publish applications in such way that the original product could be enhanced or enrich. The company´s president liked the idea, said it looked revolutionary. But then we faced retrictions from local regulations. As a matter of fact there are few countries that allow financial institutions to have their Core systems installed in the Cloud. You can hear about Temenos with some installations in Coopearatives in Mexico and its efforts to have its product, T24, over Windows Azure. Other initiatives come from Finacle, Denarius (actually DenariusOnline), Misys and others, but a company that is striking hard in the market is the german: Mambu.

Mambu has presence in more that 30 countries, mainly in startups from developing countries. There is still a long path to discover, starting with the right strategy since we have sensitive data, unranked providers, service availability. What if somebody like a fierce group of hackers decide to attack the digital fortress and at least cause service blockage?  The current accepted solution uses private clouds, few services running in this model. Institutions need to be cautious, adopt strategies that start with services that do not compromise their data, something like loan services and things like that.

Mambu experiences in Africa are worth to check, since the service is addressed mainly to unbanked. What about unbaked in the rest of the world. Roughly around 60% of population is underbanked or unbanked, What a Chance! If any financial institution offers cloud based services for around the 60% of pppulation and that service generates just the $1 in profits per customer, it´s is something to take into account. Servicing people that live far from populated and serviced centers can benefit from this kind of services.

Security is one key point that keeps financial institutions considering cloud more than the advisable, but there are other key points to consider, surpassing the old debated cost savings and opening doors to other subjects like agility, ubiquity, response speed, image, brand, etc. Salesforce is offering the first service for banks, based in the cloud ( Banks that opt for this service can nurture their leads from multiple channels, personnel from the bank will access all information from cloud repositories. Security is no more an issue with capital letters, with appropriate policies and infrastructure data is fully protected from unauthorized access.

Looks now that regulatory agencies in the majority of coutries are some steps behind, since local regulations does not allow to hang data in the cloud for financial institutions. But, it is just a matter of imagination and disruption to put business enabling services in Cloud Servers or hiring services as salesforce1. Technology does never sleep and banks should do the same.