"Brandon McGee, Industry Insider, Mobile Banking Guru...He is not only the real deal, a genuine industry insider, but also knows exactly what's on the minds of financial service pros as they contemplate the various mobile options." - Jim Bruene, Publisher & Founder, Online Financial Innovations

"Going Mobile. Local executive carves niche as national expert on fast-growing banking-industry technology trend" - Scott Olson, Indianapolis Business Journal (IBJ)

"Brandon McGee, the industry's unofficial ambassador for mobile banking" 

Monday, October 29, 2007

Chase Ahead of Mobile Marketing Curve

It's official - Chase has launched a revolutionary mobile marketing initiative. To view a copy of the full promotion email click here.

To learn more about the program, FAQs, or view participating merchants - click here.

Wow! I would love to learn more about this program. Could it be that Chase has actually figured out a way to boost their card purchase volume while simultaneously generating a new stream of revenue?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Mobile Payments & Mobile Banking

As we have all learned by now it is not easy to develop a business case for mobile banking. Predominantly, this is due to the fact that it’s not free to develop the service; yet, clients expect to receive it for free since they can access online banking via their personal computer at no charge.

The more you read the more you discover that many experts feel that the revenue potential exists within the realm of mobile payments. Therefore, I have begun to immerse myself in learning about the nuances of the space, and you will notice that I have begun to develop a more robust listing of the mobile payment vendors along the right-hand column.

Additionally, here are a few snippets of data that I have uncovered so far:
* Meijer reports a 44% monthly sales left for customers paying with contactless cards
* BP will start accepting PayPass at 3,000 U.S. locations
* USA Technologies is currently installing contactless payment on 7,500 additional vending machines for Coca Cola Enterprises.
* The total payments market in the U.S. is estimated to be over $7 trillion
* One forecast predicts that mobile phone-based contactless payments will account for over $36 billion of worldwide consumer spending by 2011
* The case for mobile transactions has been well proven by recent pilots. In a country such as Kenya there are 400 bank branches, 600 ATMs and 10 million mobile phones.
* In heavily wired Korea, 70% of all digital content -- valued at more than $1 billion last year -- is charged directly to cellphone bills instead of traditional credit cards, the company says.
* There are 6 million places where you can use your credit card, 45,000 (contactless acceptance locations)
* Pilots have been announced for:
Wells Fargo & Visa
Discover Financial & Motorola
Citi, Mastercard AT&T, and Nokia
Cellular South, Kyocera, and VIVOTech
Citi & Obopay
First Data & mFoundry
Verizon & Obopay

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Mobile Banking and Sun Microsystems

Last week I had the pleasure of discussing the future of mobile banking with two executives from Sun Microsystems Carl Morath (Marketing Manager – Worldwide Financial Services) and Donna Rubin (Director of Marketing – Worldwide Financial Services).

Prior to the call I knew that Sun was the creator of Java technology; however, did you also know that the SIM chip in your cell phone is likely a Java Chip? In fact, an online search found that, “there are more than a billion Java-enabled phones in operation, and 70 percent to 80 percent of the GSM phones are also equipped with Java (February 2006).” – Blueboard.com

As we discussed the future of mobile banking Mr. Morath felt that the market would evolve in this fashion.
1. SMS - “It’s a given”
2. Browser - WAP 2.0 is better but not great. There will not be huge take-up.
3. Downloadable – More complex but there will be good take-up.

The most interesting aspect of the discussion though revolved around the projects that Sun has in development to improve the mobile banking experience. Sun has decided to focus their resources on two primary initiatives.

First, Sun does not feel that the OFX and ATM interfaces currently utilized by downloadable applications provide adequate support. To improve upon this model Sun is working to wrap a new interface around this existing technology. The new interface will build upon the bank’s existing transaction sets; yet, will create a new extensible web service. This basically means that we will have one interface that is able to incorporate and integrate all three mobile banking solutions (SMS, Browser, Downloadable).

Secondly, Sun is working to figure out how to provision a credit card in a cell phone. Understandably, this has been a challenge from a security aspect, because it requires a delicate balance of restricting bank information from carriers and carrier information from banks. Fortunately, Sun is well versed in dealing with both players. Over the years they have formed strong relationships with the carriers and as of 2004 provided internet banking technology to 85% of the banks in the market.

While Sun’s participation is not as transparent as the traditional mobile banking vendor they are a critical player, and will be instrumental in shaping the future of the mobile banking landscape.

To learn more about Sun’s success stories - click here.

To visit the blogs managed by Sun employees - click here.

Monday, October 22, 2007

IBC Bank and mFoundry - Mobile Banking

LAREDO, Texas & SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Mobile banking leader mFoundry today announced the selection of mFoundry’s Spotlight financial platform by IBC Bank, the Laredo-based flagship bank of International Bancshares Corporation (NASDAQ: IBOC), one of the largest bank holding companies in Texas. IBC will leverage mFoundry’s Spotlight Mobile Banking solution to provide IBC’s customers with real-time, on-demand access to their IBC checking, savings and credit card accounts. Click to read the full press release.

Wells Fargo Launches Mobile Text Banking

First Major Financial Services Company to Offer Consumer and Small Business Customers Both Browser- and Text-Based Account Access via Mobile Devices

SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE:WFC) today announced another component of its Wells Fargo MobileSM service: text banking. This addition makes Wells Fargo the first major financial services company in the country to offer its consumer and small business customers both browser- and text-based account access via their mobile devices. Click to read the full press release.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Discussion about Mobile Banking Security at a Feverish Pitch

With the excitement surrounding mobile banking now in full swing it should come as no surprise that the topic of security is also reaching a feverish pitch. In fact, in the world of finance one of the early warming signs of a potentially successful service is regulatory involvement and mobile banking is no different.

I first wrote about security in an article titled “Mobile Banking & Security.” Later I followed up with an article titled Mobile Banking Security and AntiVirus Protection on the Mobile Money and Banking website.

However, within the last week the information has seemed to pick up dramatically. Here is a sampling of the highlights:
Mobile Banking Security: The Black Cloud Attached to the Silver Lining
Reserve Bank of India Studies Mobile Banking
Financial Sector Technology Vision document (2008-2010)
Mobile Banking. Mixing Ubiquity With Security.
The greatest weakness of mobile banking security is the mobile banking users themselves?
Panda Security launches antifraud service for mobile banking.
Mobile-Banking Security Checklist Published by Green Armor Solutions.
Mobile Banking Fraud!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Western Union and Mobile Transfers

Today there was an article by Paul Taylor on the MSNBC website titled "Western Union to Transfer Money by Cell."

The key take away is that Western Union will launch a mobile money transfer service in the second quarter of 2008. The article further explains that, "Once connected to the Western Union service, mobile operators will be able to use their own "mobile wallet"' software to enable person-to-person mobile money transfers over Western Union's cross-border remittance network."

Initially I began to think, "it will be a real challenge for Western Union to make the leap in to the mobile arena." However, the reality is that they already have the infrastructure in place and according to the article, "processed some 17 per cent of the world's remittance volume in 2006."

You'll notice that there was no mention of a financial institution, but the operators will still be forced to revenue share with Western Union.

This will be an interesting one to keep an eye on. Fortunately, the operators involved (MTN, Orange, Orascom, Smart, Telenor and VimpelCom) do not include any of the "Big 5" from the U.S.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Mobile Banking or Cell Phone Banking

The other day I was riding in the elevator when a co-worker asked, "what's your new role?" My now standard response is, "Mobile banking...(then I pause and wait for a confused look on their face and follow with)...it's basically online banking on a cell phone."

That's when it occurred to me - why is it called Mobile Banking. Why isn't it called cell phone banking?

Now, I know that technically there are smart phones, cell phones, PDA's and pocket PC's which are all (Mobile Devices) but truthfully the only people that really use those terms are the handset manufacturers. I would never leave someone a voicemail and say - call me on my mobile. Nor would I say - call me on my smart phone.

So my questions are:
* Where did the term "Mobile Banking" come from and is it appropriate for the U.S.?
* Could this unfamiliar term be negatively affecting adoption?

I have not been able to confirm my hunch, but I'm guessing that the source of the phrase comes from overseas where people use the generic term "mobile" to refer to the same device that we call our "cell phone."


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Mobile Banking Announcement: Firethorn and Verizon

I know this is slightly dated (i.e. a full day old) but I purposefully didn't post it on my site because I posted it to the Mobile Money & Banking site. However, I want to make sure that Firethorn receives equal attention; plus, it occured to me that some people may not realize that I guest blog for MM&B. To read a full listing of my MM&B articles - click here.


Leading wireless carrier plans to offer pre-loaded mobile banking application, support marketing efforts

BASKING RIDGE, N.J. and ATLANTA - October 15, 2007 – Mobile banking and payments enabler Firethorn Holdings, LLC (www.firethornmobile.com) and Verizon Wireless, the nation’s leading wireless company with the nation’s most reliable wireless voice and data network, announced today a new strategic relationship that will provide Verizon Wireless customers with the ability to easily interact with their financial institutions using Firethorn’s mobile financial services application.

Click to read the full press release.

Mobile Banking Announcement: BBT, Clairmail, and mFoundry

Winston-Salem-based BB&T Corporation (NYSE: BB&T - News) today said it has partnered with two California-based mobile banking and payment providers to offer one of the industry's most comprehensive mobile banking services.

BB&T's three-phase rollout of the new service is set to begin next month and is expected to be completed in the first quarter when a full menu of mobile banking options will be available to BB&T clients. The services include two-way mobile messaging, mobile Web access and mobile banking applications

BB&T is the first customer of a newly-formed partnership between ClairMail Inc. of Novato, Calif., and mFoundry of Sausalito, Calif.

Click to read the full press release.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Recommendation for Mobile Banking Vendors & An Update on Opera Browsers

I have an update to an article that I wrote last month titled "Opera Mini Browser & Mobile Banking." I stand behind my opinion that Opera Mini is a very powerful mobile browser, and my favorite for general web browsing. However, I have since learned that it is not conducive to mobile banking.

In fact, I received the following information from a reader:

"...one important thing to note is that Opera Mini provides inadequate security for Mobile Banking - the technology that Opera Mini uses results in the data being decrypted on the Opera server, very similar to the old "WAP gap" problem.

This is clearly documented on the Opera web site:


Is there any end-to-end security between my handset and for example paypal.com or my bank?

No. Opera Mini uses a transcoder server to translate HTML/CSS/JavaScript into a more compact format. It will also shrink any images to fit the screen of your handset. This translation step makes Opera Mini fast, small, and also very cheap to use. To be able to do this translation, the Opera Mini server needs to have access to the unencrypted version of the Web page. Therefore no end-to-end encryption between the client and the remote Web server is possible. If you need full end-to-end encryption, you should use a full Web browser such as Opera for Mobile.

Can Opera Software see my passwords and credit card numbers in clear text? What is the encryption good for then?

The encryption is introduced to protect the communication from any third party between the client (the browser on your handset) and the Opera Mini transcoder server. If you do not trust Opera Software, make sure you do not use our application to enter any kind of sensitive information."

Naturally my question back to the reader was
, "Am I reading correctly then that Opera for Mobile is secure? Are there any other free, downloadable browsers that do provide end-to-end security?"

And the response -

"Opera Mobile is available for Windows Mobile and Symbian 60 phones. It is not free however - the cost is $24 after a 30 day free trial.


You can find a list of Symbian 60 phones here - make sure to search for the ones that are available in North America (note that the RAZR is not on this list):

I am not aware of any free downloadable browsers that provide true end-to-end security."

To bring this full circle -

It has become clear to me over the last 6 months that a significant number of bankers and research companies believe that a 3 channel offering (SMS, Browser-based, Downloadable) is the optimal solution. Yet, we know that many of the mobile browsers pre-loaded on phones are inadequate. Therefore, my recommendation is this. If you are a vendor currently offering a downloadable application, please find a way to incorporate a top-notch web browser into the download.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Video Interviews by Christophe Langlois

Earlier today Christophe Langlois (Founder of Visible-Banking.com) published a video interview that he and I conducted in New York after the Finovate 2007 conference hosted by Jim Bruene (Editor - Online Banking Report.)

If you get a chance please take a look, but more importantly be sure to check out all of the other videos that he recorded the very same day.

Brandon McGee, VP & Senior Product Manager at Huntington Bank

Andrew Taylor, CTO at Jwaala

Murali Subbarao, Founder & CEO of Billeo

Aaron Patzer, Founder & CEO of Mint.com

Chris Larsen, Founder & CEO of Prosper

Peter Hazlehurt, SVP Product Management at Yodlee

Patrick Gannon, SVP Lending at Lending Club

Bob Homer, VP Product Management at CheckFree

Christophe Langlois is truly an innovative thinker when it comes to social networking and online innovation. If you do not check his blog daily you are probably missing out.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Mobile Banking - Product Marketing

I have recently noticed that there’s subject that has not received adequate attention – product marketing. To date everyone in the industry has been trying to figure out how to design the perfect solution. The discussions all revolve around SMS vs. Browser-Based vs. Rich UX (Downloadable); however, we must keep in mind that this is not a “build it and they will come” product. Yes - there are a handful or early adopters that will seek out the product, but a far greater number of clients will need to be actively engaged.

To compound the problem, marketing requires money and as we all know the business case for mobile banking is already a little fuzzy. For more on this topic I’d recommend reading Mobile Banking: Where's the Business Case? by Karen Epper Hoffman.

So, the question is, “how do you market mobile banking with limited funds?” The answer is – with a fully integrated guerilla campaign. Here are a few ideas to jump-start your right-brain creative juices.

1) Begin with internal marketing. The other day I read the article Mobile Banking – Driving Adoption by Julie Ask and I was reminded how critical the front line employees are in the adoption of a new product or service. So, my advice is to start with internal marketing. Write an article for the intranet, run an internal promotion to get employees using the service, offer to speak and give a demo at regional sales meetings. The list of possibilities is nearly endless and very inexpensive.
* Note: mobile banking will also facilitate a “stickier” client so be sure to work with retail management to ensure employees are paid incentive compensation for each client they enroll.

2) In branch marketing. I would begin with posters, tent cards, and a stack of simple “take-ones” at each teller station. This is extremely cost effective because once the printer is running the incremental cost is fairly negligible. Plus, if you were successful with your internal marketing program (see above) the tellers are now mobile evangelists capable of answering any questions the clients may have. Finally, this will also help you avoid the truly expense components of marketing such as postage and the expenses related to newspaper, radio and television advertising.

3) Take your message to the homepage. Create a banner image promoting the benefits of mobile banking for your homepage with an associated “landing page” including a strong “enroll now” call to action. Within the last few years many banks have begun to realize the importance of web analytics; and as such, they have developed a keen appreciation for how valuable the marketing areas of their homepage can be.

4) Piggy-back on existing marketing initiatives. If you have a friend in the marketing department this can be a very simple and free solution. Simply add a “snipe” to the corner of a newspaper ad, a line to the bottom of a direct mail piece, or a link to an existing email campaign. Again the possibilities are endless and as long as the message is simple and non-intrusive you will likely not receive much resistance.

For more ideas I’d recommend conducting a brain-storming session with the marketing team or reading Jay Conrad Levinson’s book - Guerilla Marketing.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

NYCE to Provide Mobile Banking and Payments Services Powered by Monitise Americas

"NYCE Payments Network today announced it will offer mobile banking and payments services to financial institutions — the first commercially available service from a U.S. debit card payments network." Read the full press release.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Mobile Banking Updates - Week of Oct 1

I apologize for having missed a few days but I was in New York attending the Finovate 2007 conference. If you haven't had an opportunity to hear much about the event you can read my notes at the Mobile Money and Banking site. I hate to belabor the point, but if you were not able to attend please make sure that it's on your calendar for next year. Over the course of a day I was able to meet with a number of vendors including: mFoundry, Clairmail, M-Com, SRM Technologies, Sybase, Firethorn, and YellowPepper. I met fellow bankers from Citi, JP Morgan Chase, Capital One, ABSA, and ECCU. Plus, had the pleasure of spending time with a number of interesting bloggers including: Christophe Langlois, Paul Ruppert, Jim Bruene, and William Azaroff.

But now it's back to business. Here's the news:

Firethorn and CheckFree to Provide Arvest Bank Group Mobile Banking and Payments

Google Is Really, Really Serious About The Mobile Ad Market

Cell Phones Double As Electronic Wallets

CPNI Extends Access to Mobile Purchases

Fronde Anywhere to reach world through LogicaCMG

S1 Enterprise Announces Mobile Banking Solution