13 posts categorized

November 12, 2015

New ATM Concept Brings Mobile to the Fore



Will that be cash or credit? These days most of us use plastic to pay for just about everything—from groceries and clothing to digital music and parking meters. But this hasn’t stopped Diebold Inc. from introducing a new line of ATMs aimed at providing future consumers with a unique mobile banking experience. 

In late October, Diebold unveiled two new ATM concepts at the Money 20/20 tradeshow in Las Vegas. The Irving and Janus models are the latest series to exclude common components of traditional ATM design and functionality. Most notably, both designs feature cardless transaction capabilities and mobile integration, which according to Diebold, will create a smoother and more convenient experience. 


New Features

Unlike traditional ATMs, the Irving is a sleek, screen-less, and pad-less terminal. Near Field Communication (NFC) activates the ATM when a user approaches the device.  NFC syncs with a user’s smartphone, thus eliminating the need for various material interfaces. To access funds, users verify their identities using contact-less technologies like QR codes or iris-scan and then withdraw cash. The Irving is also 32 percent smaller than traditional ATMs.

While the Irving delivers on speed and convenience, the Janus offers customer service in an entirely new format. The Janus is a dual-sided terminal, sharing basic components like alarm boards and connectivity, but can individually service two users at once from each side without compromising security or privacy. 

The Janus also incorporates mobile access features like NFC and QR code technology but also offers a tablet touch screen, which allows users to scan checks and sign documents. Additionally, if a user needs assistance, the Janus offers a 24-hour video teller for more complex problems. 


But Are They Safe? 

Mobilizing the ATM experience is a likely evolution. As consumers become increasingly familiar with mobile integration and applications, especially with the proliferation of banking apps, the need for brick-and-mortar bank locations decreases. But are these new cardless ATMs safe for consumers? 

Diebold’s ATM concepts reassure users with safety features covering several types of threats. First, the new machines remove nearly every skimming threat, because users would not have to slide a card or type a PIN. Second, the QR codes and other scanning technologies don’t contain any sensitive data about the user; they simply notify the smartphone of the connection. Connections are also set to expire after a short length of time, so even if the phone were lost or stolen, accessing the account would be impossible without proper user identification. And finally, the increased speed of the transaction greatly shortens the amount of time a person spends at the terminal.

Like all mobilized tasks, the use of mobile integrated ATMs will probably take some getting used to. In the future, it probably won’t be the end of the world if you forget your wallet at home, provided that you have your cell phone.



Jeremy Pollack has a B.A. in English from USC and has been writing professionally since 2001. He is the founder and editorial manager of Compelling Content Solutions, A copy writing and content marketing services company.


October 20, 2015

Be Wary of the Latest Text Message Bank Fraud Scam


Internet scams make the news fairly regularly, spurring conversations about prevention with advice from experts as well as victims. While most of us know not to provide personal information via email, or when asked to do so by a pop-up window, few practice the same caution with regards to their smartphones. 

The latest scam involving identity theft is presenting itself to mobile users via text messages. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) recently got involved after several complaints surfaced regarding text massages from alleged financial institutions requesting data verification through a live link in the message. The BBB warned consumers about the fraudulent texts and reminded them of a similar case back in 2012. 


How it Works 

According to the BBB, mobile users were receiving alerts from their personal banks, asking them to verify their names, online IDs, and passwords at a site linked in the messages. In most cases the URL had the bank’s name included (or some variation of the name) and appeared to be almost identical to the legitimate website. Unsuspecting users would enter their personal data into the fraudulent site and would become at rick of identity theft and subsequent financial loss.  

Scams like these are, in essence, very similar to those we regularly encounter on laptop or desktop computers—usually via email or pop-up window. Over time most people have learned to avoid these scams and report them to the appropriate authorities.

So, what makes this so different? The success of this scam is tied to the emotional and irrational belief that our smartphones are safer because they are typically in our possession at all times. The intimate space of text messaging is falsely perceived as secure, more trustworthy, and relevant. 

This is unfortunately not the case. Just like unwanted push notifications, incoming solicitations and scams are very real threats if certain settings are left unchecked on a smartphone.


How to Combat Text Scams 

Most of have learned to deal with dubious emails and pop-up windows by deleting suspicious messages. Use the same caution on your smart device. Ignore the instructions of a text message asking for your participation to retrieve or verify personal data via text.

Further, you should check your phone bill every month. Check for services you haven’t ordered. Fraudulent changes may appear as one-time charges or be labeled ‘subscriptions,’ and may appear on each monthly bill.  

Commercial text messages, push notifications, and text subscriptions should lawfully provide you with an easy way to unsubscribe from them. If the option doesn’t appear to be available to you, check with your service provider to ensure your account hasn’t been compromised.  

Finally, ask your phone carrier about blocking third-party charges. Most phone carriers allow third parties (app companies, special ringtone services, etc.) to charge you for their services. Some carriers also have a way to block third parties from making charges. 

Don’t be afraid to call your service provider if you ever have any questions or suspect fraudulent activity. The worst thing mobile users can do if they suspect they are being scammed or unlawfully charged for services they don’t receive is nothing. Be proactive about your mobile safety, and you won’t become a victim of mobile scams. 

September 26, 2015

Are Canadian Banks Mobile Ready?


According to a new report from CenturyLink entitled Banks: Customers Expect That You’re Always On and Available, Are You Ready?, 40 percent of Canadian banking executives say they do not have the IT infrastructure required to meet customers’ core banking service needs.  

“To stay competitive in a technology-driven marketplace, Canadian banks must be both financial institutions and mobile technology innovators,” said Roji Oommen, managing director of financial services at CenturyLink. “Given that many of these banks don’t believe they have the infrastructure in place to fully embrace mobile technology, strategic technology partners like CenturyLink can help identify and integrate the right IT and mobile technology solutions.”

The CenturyLink report notes that 26 percent of Canadians use mobile banking, which is up five percent from 2010. Much like Americans, Canadians now expect secure, round-the-clock solutions for their banking needs, making the call for mobile banking options greater than ever. 


Challenges for Banks

However, Canadian banks are struggling to meet these demands. Even the biggest names in Canadian banking note the pressure they feel to “get their products to market quickly,” and that their new tech-based competitors are “a disruptive force.” They still list digital customer service as a top priority, though they feel they lack the resources to make mobile payments and similar services happen quickly. In addition to the more than one-third of C-suite executives who say they don’t have the IT infrastructure they need to meet customer expectations, nearly 70 percent say they don’t have the infrastructure for digital channels, or the means to improve them. 

Canadian banks subsequently need not only to work with current mobile trends, but also to plan for the future. The future of mobile banking solutions, according to CenturyLink, is all about mobile-first applications that personalize the consumer experience. Most Canadians own at least one mobile device, and are very Internet happy, as they clock around 45 hours of usage per person per month. As of 2012, over 6.7 million Canadians pay their bills online. 

Despite widespread mobile use among Canadians, security issues still loom. Many older Canadians pay with cash due to perceived security threats, however use of cash is diminishing among Canadians of all ages.  

So how can Canadian banks provide customers with the mobile options they need and compete on a global scale? Outsourcing IT infrastructure is one solution currently being considered by banking executives. Ensuring mobile banking solutions are completely secure is another. Mobile banking is hardly a trend; rather it’s something that’s absolutely here to stay. Canadian banks must work with technology partners to make certain they go forward instead of remaining stagnant.

September 22, 2015

Making Mobile Banking Less Risky


The world of work has undergone some radical changes over the last decade. Businesses have offices and employees scattered all over the globe; meetings take place via optic cables and tablet screens. The very notion of a ‘headquarters’, where all the important stuff happens, seems anachronistic in 2015. 

One of the key concerns for this diffuse employment culture is ensuring the security of financial transactions conducted over wireless mobile networks. There are a few ways to do this, each with their own advantages and drawbacks:


SMS Messaging

SMS has changed the banking industry inside and out, enhancing customer service and improving internal communications in a secure, reliable way. According to research by OpenMarket and International Data Corp (IDC), almost 90% of financial services companies believe mobile messaging has had a positive impact on the user experience, and 73% see text messages as an effective way to communicate with employees. 

SMS’ secret weapon is two-factor authentication (2FA), which drastically reduces the risk of fraudulent activity on an account. Even with 2FA in place, most financial organizations send notifications regarding high-dollar, high-risk transactions. 

The benefits of mobile banking go further than security (though, clearly, that’s the priority for both customer and bank). One in five financial services companies are using mobile messaging to ensure business continuity and enhance multichannel capacity, and one in four use it to improve risk mitigation (according to the IDC study). More than a third of banks use SMS to attract new business and improve retention rates for existing customers. 



Face, voice and fingerprint biometrics are making headway into finance security management. Facial recognition usually requires users to look at a screen and blink when prompted; for voice recognition, they read a short phrase.  

The simplicity of these actions is significant. It means biometrics and mobile messaging needn’t be mutually exclusive for the sake of convenience - they can work together to create a multi-factor authentication process that enhances security. Add to that the security of a password-restricted biometrics app, contained on the mobile device of the user, and you have a pretty tight ship.


Behavioral Biometrics

Even newer and shinier than physical biometrics is the concept of behavioral biometrics. It works by monitoring session behavior in desktop, mobile and cloud apps and creating a unique profile that draws on physiological data such as palm size and swipe and press patterns, as well as behavioral traits like usage preference and location habits. 

A number of behavioral biometrics systems are being developed for use by banks. Clearly, these additional layers of risk analysis and security can help protect customers - even across multiple devices - and provide a more frictionless experience at the same time.

This is all good news for mobile banking, which is already used by around half of customers at the main U.S. banks. Passwords are still expected by users, so are unlikely to disappear from view any time soon. Behavioral and physical biometrics are beginning to run alongside traditional log in data as a secondary line of defense, continually tracking the online tendencies of users to build an accurate picture and identify cyber security risks more quickly. The beauty of biometrics for the user is that there’s no need to download software or endure long sign up processes. All they have to do is, literally, be themselves.


January 05, 2015

Mobile Marketing for Finance Products and Services


It’s near impossible to argue the benefits mobile marketing offers a wide variety of industries, including finance. Over a third of major U.S. bank customers regularly turn to mobile banking, and as such it’s essential that marketers take full advantage of what this ever-evolving channel provides. Chase has some 12 million customers moving an astounding $6.5 billion through mobile platforms each month, and that’s just one example. 

“For us, mobile is a critical channel, the fastest growing channel we have, and one that uniquely makes banking a lot more convenient,” says Robert Tas, Managing Director, Head of Digital Marketing at JP Morgan Chase. Tas understands full well the convenience mobile offers customers. “If I don’t have to get into my car and drive to an ATM to deposit a check, you could have saved me 30 minutes to an hour,” he says. 

Let’s take a deeper look at the many benefits mobile marketing offers the finance industry: 

Customer Loyalty

Mobile marketing functions as a true gift to finance, as late-arriving low-balance alerts are just one of the ways to create seriously unhappy customers. A simple text message notification warning customers of their account situation, however? The loyalty such messages provide banks is invaluable. 

And that’s just one way mobile ensures bank customer loyalty. SMS notifications regarding shady transactions is yet another way, as fraud and low-balance notifications are highly time-sensitive. Text also wins over email like nobody’s business, as send-to-open time for texts is 14 minutes, and email 6.4 hours. That’s one enormous difference. 

Increased Communication

Nearly 90% of American adults own mobile phones, and 75% of those send and receive text messages quite regularly. And unlike apps, text messages are compatible with every mobile device under our sun, and most open and read every single text that comes their way—95% of incoming texts are read, compared to 10% of emails. It’s therefore not a stretch to say text messaging is the best and most reliable form of mass communication currently in existence. 

Return on Investment

For companies still on the proverbial fence in regards to mobile marketing, take note: texting equals profit. The technology’s cheap and easy to use, and the average SMS user makes more transactions, has bigger “basket size,” and revolves balances, resulting in that much more income for card issuers. As a bonus, the cost of sending promotions via text is much lower than other marketing means. 

As Tracy Weber, the managing director for Consumer Interest and Mobile Banking in North America for Citi Bank notes, “To be able to delight them [customers] and provide things that really add value to their lives absolutely can go a long way in how they feel about this [mobile] category.” 

It follows that the only question left to bankers who haven’t utilized this strategy is, “Why ever not?” 



December 25, 2014

Amex Takes Mobile to Another Level


It’s no secret that people are “addicted” to their smartphones, and that mobile advertising has eclipsed many traditional ad forms as a way to reach consumers. American Express believed the “quality and content” of ads was “not keeping pace,” resulting in a partnership with Zumobi that began in 2012. 

Zumobi offers “the very best mobile apps and advertising experiences through an array of advanced platforms for media companies.” The company’s mobile campaigns have aimed to “shake up the mobile platform norm,” and create wondrous experiences for smartphone users customized to interests and spending habits. This was accomplished via social media, video, and user-generated content. Campaigns also created “tailored timelines” of images for each user, who may also put together personalized panoramas geared towards interests such as dining, electronics, shopping, and travel. 

“We are thrilled to be tapping into Zumobi’s incredible creativity and expertise in developing innovative mobile ads that make full use of smartphones’ native capabilities across their Brand Integration (ZBi) ad platform,” Louis Paskalis, Vice President of Global Media, Content Development and Mobile Marketing, American Express, remarked at the time of the partnership.  “They are enabling us to truly bring The Membership Effect campaign to life by creating a highly interactive and personalized brand experience for card members.”

Zumobi CEO Ken Willner also noted that “this campaign is really about creating personalized and meaningful connections between American Express and its card members.”

Another appealing aspect of the AMEX-Zumobi partnership is providing cardholders with exclusive discounts and deals to restaurants and retail stores when they sync their cards with their Twitter, Facebook or Foursquare accounts. The companies elected comedian Aziz Ansari to star in their television ads, which likely enticed young people. 

American Express made a smart decision by harnessing the power of mobile ads and offering members the chance to enjoy even more discounts and opportunities when using their cards on mobile platforms. Marketing Land predicted a mobile advertising spike of between $2.5 and $3.0 billion dollars in 2012, and that number has only increased.

AMEX, Zumobi and similar companies continue to find new ways of attracting consumers through mobile means, something that will undoubtedly reap serious rewards. If in doubt, simply look around—how many people are immersed in their smartphones? Phones are no longer simply for calling and texting; smartphone use now shapes how consumers shop and how credit card companies, retailers, and other businesses appeal to their target audiences.



August 21, 2014

Mortgages Go Mobile


The mortgage lending market is updating the way it does business. Primarily a person-to-person industry, mortgage lenders typically meet with customers directly to offer a variety of packages suitable for their clients. With the influx of mobile users in the past decade, however, the big players in this business are readying to go mobile.

According to the Pew Research Center, about 90% of U.S. adults carry a cellphone. In addition, the report shows that 58% of Americans carry a smartphone, 42% own a tablet, and 32% have an e-reader. These numbers show that, in this nation alone, owning a mobile device has become a standard. Mortgage lending corporations have begun to roll out marketing campaigns based on these numbers, creating mobile apps and kiosks to change the way they have historically addressed their clientele.

In Wisconsin, a company called Waterstone Mortgage has been one of these pioneers. They have developed a digital platform entitled Mortgage Agility, which allows potential borrowers to apply for loans using their smartphones. The app features the ability to take pictures of the potential clients’ documents, thereby speeding up the approval process. Waterstone’s offices in Florida have started to employ Mortgage Agility, and they are already seeing great results: not only are customers’ information collected in an orderly fashion, but they are able to move into a closing position with greater speed and ease.

Another digital platform, called Apex, has been unveiled by FBC Mortgage LLC. This technology comes to customers as a kiosk located at FBC Mortgage storefronts. Apex allows potential borrowers to streamline the approval process, allowing clients to determine if they are eligible for a loan in less than ten minutes. The technology then sends a correspondence letter to the individual immediately after the pre-approval process.

It is true that the mortgage lending industry has a history of doing business the old-fashioned way. When it comes to loans, it is important that all of a customer’s information is protected and handled with care. But the face-to-face practice of lending requires a great deal of a given client’s time (as well as the lender’s time). Nowadays, Americans use mobile technologies for anything from online purchases and video games, to text messaging and information gathering – and the mortgage lending industry must not lose sight of this. By developing strategies for the lending market that incorporate a mobile user’s smartphone (or an appropriate digital platform), their customers will appreciate the ease-of-use and expediency of mobile technologies.



May 30, 2014

FT Reaches Out to Young People via Mobile Marketing


Britain’s premier business and economics broadsheet, the Financial Times (FT), last month launched a digital ad campaign aimed at the next generation of business professionals.

Digital posters are dotted around London train, tube and bus stations, imploring the public to find their ‘personalized Financial Times at’ The mobile marketing assault includes video ads optimized for smartphones, while the usual social media suspects spread the word online.

Toni Ellwood, the FT’s boss of acquisition marketing, gave a statement at the unveiling of the campaign:

“Since the launch of our digital media acquisition campaign last year, we have seen that 40 per cent of new readers… were in the 24-34 age group – one we hadn’t specifically targeted previously.”

It’s an interesting development for the paper, which hasn’t always been so keen on the sort of mobile marketing tactics now used by most big businesses. Less than two months before the launch of the digital ad campaign, the FT’s chief technical officer John O’Donovan warned against obsessing over specific platforms, singling out mobile-optimized and responsive sites as examples of myopic tendencies among marketers.

And yet, the site was an early, aggressive adopter of certain online and mobile marketing practices that are now de rigeur among all sorts of enterprise. In 2007, became the first publisher to use a metered paywall and launch an HTML-5-based browsing experience. According to Donovan, the FT generates more revenue from content descriptions than it does from advertising - a pretty unequivocal endorsement as far as proponents of paid content are concerned.

Back then, Donovan described the FT as ‘pushing boundaries’ in the way it disseminated content through a diverse range of channels. His success cannot be ignored – but neither can the overwhelming power of mobile marketing which, frankly, is more effective than other strategies. After all, smartphone usage keeps growing year on year, and more than 90% of all text messages are opened and read within minutes of being received.

At the very least, Donovan would surely concede the point made by his colleague Ellwood, that nearly ‘half of traffic now comes from mobile devices.’ Their growing mobile audience appears to confirm the very thing Donovan denies: that a mobile marketing campaign should take precedence over other channels without excluding them altogether. 

May 14, 2014

Twitter Adds SMS Messaging Password Resets


Twitter has updated its security options to allow users to reset passwords via text or email. The updates were unveiled last week.

In order to implement the SMS messaging option, users must associate a mobile phone number with their Twitter account here. Once the phone is activated, it’s possible to disable any unwanted SMS notifications. To reset a password via email, simply click the ‘forgot password’ link on the front page (the option is available on both desktop and mobile versions of the site, as well as the Android and iPhone apps).

Once the SMS messaging request has been sent, a code is sent to the associated mobile phone; the code must be entered on Twitter’s sign in page, followed by the new password.

The move comes after Twitter promised to ramp up security for their service following a spate of suspicious log in attempts. In addition to the new password reset options, Twitter has started analyzing log in attempts based on location and history, in much the same way banks flag up unusual ATM transactions. If they identify an apparently suspicious log in attempt, Twitter will request verification via email or text.

Additionally, the process will ask users a secret question about their account prior to granting access, followed by e-mail notifications if an anomaly has been spotted.
Twitter said recently that user security is a  priority concern, and by adding these new steps accounts will be safer than ever before.

The single biggest breach of Twitter’s security manifested as the recent Heartbleed Bug scandal, which compromised the personal data – including bank details - of millions of users. The micro-blogging site hopes the new measures will prevent similar security breaches in future. A statement on their blog said:

“We’re aware that many people reuse the same passwords across multiple sites. And when any of these sites are compromised, stolen passwords could be used to access your account on Twitter.” 

When it comes to tightening preventative procedures to limit third party hijackings, Twitter is somewhat late to the party. Google implemented a raft of similar security measures in 2010, giving users the ability to track log in history and other information so they could keep tabs on their accounts. 

March 17, 2014

Secure Text Banking? It’s All About Checks and Balances


SMS messaging provides one of the fastest, easiest ways for consumers to stay in touch with businesses. Banking is no exception. Virtually every major US bank now offers some form of text banking.

Text banking is proving popular with a small number of customers who like to stay on top of the finances – and like the fact they don’t need an internet connection to do it. Nonetheless, as many as 51% of cell phone users think mobile banking is not secure, and the number of bank customers who prefer using cell phones to view balances and transactions stood at around 8% in 2012, when the most recent ABA figures were published. 

This reticence to engage with text banking is understandable. Fears about sending account details via text messages are not unfounded. And even just using text as one part of mobile marketing tactics that make no specific reference to an account will make some customers jittery. When it comes to personal finances, some people will always prefer the real-world transactions they’re used to.

For people more concerned about convenience than worst-case scenario cyber-fraud, SMS messaging is one of the best things to happen to banking. Apart from the improved customer service texting can offer, it’s also – whatever detractors tell you – potentially far more secure than other typed of banking. 

In response to security concerns, most banks have recently designed a whole host of precautions enabling them to minimize fraud and identity theft. Customers are now assigned a PIN they must enter to begin any particular SMS messaging session, as well as nicknames for account numbers.

Leading the way in providing greater security for text banking is Wells Fargo, who were the first bank to make the service available to all customers, even those not enrolled in online banking. Their research indicated customers want to check their balances while on the move, so they implemented a number of codes that customers could text to perform certain transactions. ‘BAL ALL’ lets customers check their balance.  ‘ACT’ tells them if a check is deposited. ‘ATM’ points them to the nearest cash machine.

The bank does not send account numbers or passwords, and their Online Security Guarantee promises 100% insurance if unauthorized activity is reported within 60 days.

Other banks have gone further. Both USAA and BOFA allow customers to deposit checks using an iPhone. Not everyone will be comfortable performing such high level transactions remotely. But for those who want that choice, SMS messaging and mobile banking is making life a whole lot easier.