"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" 

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Mobile Banking Blog Recognized by Bank Systems & Technology

I would like to take just a moment to thank Nancy Feig of Bank Systems & Technology for highlighting this blog in her article titled Customer Intimacy 2.0 (November 2007.)

An Open Verizon Helps Mobile Banking

This story has been circulating and was in this mornings USA Today.

The third paragraph summarizes the article best by stating, "Now, at last, cracks are appearing in the bizarre, sealed-off market for U.S. cellphone users. Verizon, the nation's No.2 cell network and until now an adamant defender of the 'walled garden' approach, said Tuesday that it would knock down those walls for its customers."

I applaud Verizon and their leadership in the mobile space. The story states that they are currently the No.2 cell network, but maybe we'll start to see the market vote with their dollars and boost them into the No. 1 spot.

It is this type of forward thinking that will help the entire mobile landscape (mobile banking and payments included) to reach its fullest potential. If anyone out there has a contact at Verizon I would enjoy speaking with them more about their decision.Full Story...

Mobile Banking Vendor - Red Herring Finalist

ClairMail Selected as Finalist for the ''Red Herring 100 Global'' Awards
"Red Herring Magazine announced today that ClairMail, Inc., the leader in 2-way mobile phone-based customer interaction, has been short listed for the Red Herring 100 Global 2007 Awards...ClairMail has made the final group because of its outstanding achievements, and Red Herring Magazine is honored to announce it is one of the most promising technology firms in the world." Full Story...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Mobile Banking Updates -Synovus and Monitise

Elizabeth “Lee Lee” James of Synovus has been selected to receive the “2007 Innovator Award” from American Banker. Synovus announced the selection of Firethorn as their mobile banking provider in October of 2006. Full Story...

Monitise Americas Launches Mobile Financial Services
Initial launch partners include Harvard Employees Credit Union, North Jersey Community Bank, Sutton Bank and Sutton Bank’s Greenlink Payment division. In common with Monitise Americas model of delivering mobile financial services to financial institutions using their existing payments processor relationships, its initial launch partners will use their connections to the NYCE Payments Network in order to deliver the new service to their customers. Full Story...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Mobile Banking Consumer Awareness

Each week that passes reveals that mobile banking truly is becoming a phenomenon. A year ago I had to actively search for news, but this morning I was exposed to multiple messages about mobile banking while simply sitting at the breakfast table enjoying a cup of coffee.

The first message was a new Bank of America television commercial in support of their "Bank the way you live" campaign. The spot was aired during a commercial break of NBC's Today show and integrated well with their new microsite. I tried to locate the commercial on Bank of America's website and YouTube, but was not able to find a copy - my apologies.

The next message was literally seconds later when I turned the page of the Indianapolis Star and found an article titled "A buy and cell proposition." The article was written by Dan Fost of USA Today and states, "Instead of reaching for your wallet in the next few years, you'll be able to pull out your cell phone and wave it over a scanner to make a payment." The article also does a very nice job of handling the topic of security with quotes from Allen Weinberg of Glenbrook Partners stating, "It's relatively easy to make cell phones very secure devices...as good as or better than what you do with an ATM or at-home banking." Full story.

On a similar note, the touch phone market is beginning to crowd but with varying degrees of success. Peter Svensson of the associated press says that the HTC Touch handset, "is the worst phone I've tried in the last few years." Full Story.

A few pages later Verizon is now offering the LG Voyager at $299 with a 2 year commitment.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Mobile Banking and Google a Carrier?

The telecommunications industry has always appeared very complex and daunting; however, with mobile banking obviously dependent upon the technology I am working to gain a better understanding of how the competitive market may evolve in the coming years.

With that in mind, last week I read an article that suggests we may be on the cusp of a monumental shift in the industry. The article titled Hello, Ma Google was written by Kevin Maney in the October issue of Conde Nast Portfolio. I'll reiterate that it was published in October which means that it likely written in August or September - this is crucial later in the article.

I highly recommend reading the full article, but here are two quotes that summarize the general concept, "Google could be your phone company. This possibility begins with the broadcast signals that once carried hokey sitcoms (Green Acres! The Munsters!) to TV rabbit ears. Those signals are about to become useless as sets go digital and the government prepares to auction off the old analog UHF spectrum in January. The odds-on favorite to win is Google, which has conditionally offered to meet the $4.6 billion opening bid."

The article continues on to say, "The next step is phones that work on any wireless network, the way any pot works on any stove. Google is pushing to have these so-called open phones work on the UHF spectrum, which would help end the practice of binding phones to certain networks and handcuffing customers to contracts. In other words, if the new spectrum opens the door for unlocked phones, then wireless companies could be forced to change the way they manipulate consumers and handset makers."

Do you recall that I said the article was written in August and published in October? Well...now layer in Google's November 5th announcement of the Open Handset Alliance and the Android platform. The homepage for the alliance states, "Together we have developed Android™, the first complete, open, and free mobile platform. We are committed to commercially deploy handsets and services using the Android Platform in the second half of 2008."

The second half of 2008 - that's an aggressive goal! If only they could only find a way to motivate the developers...

November 12, 2007: Google Announces $10 Million Android Developer Challenge

Well, there are obviously a number of hurdles to overcome, but if Google is able to accomplish their goal this could be revolutionary (i.e. lets all agree not to use the the phrase "the tipping point" any longer). This could mean exponential growth in the adoption and usage of the mobile internet and mobile data, which in turn could lead to exponential growth in the use of all mobile applications.

So here are my questions:
* How will the carriers respond?
* What does this mean for mobile banking?
* Does this affect the browser vs. downloadable debate?
* How will this affect the relationships between banks and carriers?
* Would this change the strategic direction of mobile banking vendors?

At this point it's very premature to try and answer these questions, but I'd welcome your initial thoughts? Also, what other questions should we be trying to answer?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Mobile Banking, Qualcomm & Open Handset Alliance

Much like everyone else in the industry I was shocked by this mornings news that Qualcomm had acquired Firethorn, but within a short period time I was back in my groove and my day proceeded as usual. Yet, periodically my mind kept going back to the story and I couldn't figure out why.

Then on the drive home it hit me. This is not the first time Qualcomm has been in the news recently. It was just over a week ago that Qualcomm was listed as a member of the new Open Handset Alliance spear-headed by the team at Google.


Qualcomm to Acquire Mobile Banking Leader Firethorn

"SAN DIEGO, Nov. 14 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Qualcomm Incorporated , a leading developer and innovator of Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) and other advanced wireless technologies, today announced it has agreed to acquire Atlanta-based Firethorn Holdings, LLC, an industry-leading mobile banking enabler. The addition of Firethorn's expertise in the financial industry and key relationships with wireless operators, financial institutions and payment processors supports Qualcomm's broader strategy to enable end-to-end wireless services that enhance the mobile experience and to deliver compelling applications that drive increased consumer adoption of new mobile data services. Qualcomm will pay approximately $210 million in cash for Firethorn. Completion of the acquisition, which is subject to certain closing conditions, is expected within 30 days. Click to read the full article.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Bank of America Drives a Half-Million Customers to Web-Based Mobile Banking

The other day I received some interesting news. The scoop is that TowerGroup has just released a new report analyzing the Bank of America mobile banking solution. As a reminder BofA is utilizing a browser-based solution and completed the rollout on August 24th of this year.

Interesting note, if you divide the 500,000 mobile banking users by their roughly 20 million online clients we know that their penetration rate is roughly 2.5% of their online banking customer base.

PS - Please do not misunderstand, I'm not advocating that online banking clients should be the sole target market, and I'm certain that this is not the BofA strategic plan. I'm simply trying to frame their rate of adoption based upon existing data.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Aite - Mobile Banking Round-table Discussion

Mustafa Patni and Michael Lindsey

Left to Right: Joram, Matt, Nick, Brandon, and Mustafa

Just a few short hours ago I returned from New York where I attended a round-table discussion on mobile banking. Let me first thank the entire team at Aite. In two short hours we covered a variety of topics including:

* Is the term mobile banking tainted from the failed attempt in 2001?
* Who will ultimately own the clients - banks or carriers?
* What will be the role of mobile banking for the un-banked or under-banked?
* Does mobile banking have a business purpose or is it just keeping up with the Jones's?
* What kind of fraud or security attacks can we expect and how do we handle them?
* Where will mobile banking take us by 2010? Will mobile payments be a factor?

Overall, the discussion was outstanding and there was a strong turn-out with over 80 people in attendance representing banks, vendors, trade publications and press. I'd also like to take a minute to thank my fellow panelists:

* Nick Holland - Aite Group
* Mustafa Patni - Washington Mutual
* Joram Borenstein - RSA
* Michael Lindsey - Bancorp South
* Matt Dill - Western Union

If you are looking for a fresh opinion from an industry expert these five are as sharp as they come.

Now, this obviously does not summarize the full content and depth of the morning, but a few "big picture" notes would be:
* We (banks and carriers) will not decide who owns the client. The market will evolve and they will dictate to us who's in control by voting with their dollars.
* Do not ignore the un-banked and under-banked. They represent a very large target segment with big potential.
* Mobile banking does have inherent value. By adding another service to the relationship the client is less likely to defect.
* As always security is paramount. The keys will be customer education and a "mobile guarantee"
* Mobile payments will be a thriving and profitable industry but be patient.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Proliferation of Mobility PR and Marketing

The other day I received my AT&T mobility magazine and was excited to see the resources that they are utilizing to create awareness about downloadable applications. The two images below are pages 22 and 23 of the magazine, and I feel that they do a decent job communicating to customers that a mobile device can be much more than just a phone. Specifically they say, "Turn your phone into a personal assistant, a problem solver, an entertainment hub - and more!"

In fact, it motivated me to visit www.att.com/mediamall for the first time and I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised at the content. I'm not sure why, but for some reason I was under the impression that they only offered Gen Y ring tones and games. However, after visiting the site I realized they they have a little something for everyone. For example there were applications for:
* Rachael Ray Recipes on the Run
* Fox Sports Mobile Pro
* The Weather Channel
* MapQuest Mobile
* MySpace Mobile

Click here or on the image below to see all of their offerings.

On a similar note - I discovered a link to this CBS Early Show video clip on the Payments News site.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Mobile Banking Roundtable and Google Phone

If your schedule permits, there's an interesting roundtable discussion that I'll be participating in next week. The event is on Thursday November 8th in New York and is sponsored by Aite. The panel will include representatives from Washington Mutual, Bancorp South, Western Union, and RSA.

On a separate note, it sounds like we're getting closer to the release of the Google phone. Will the iPhone have its first true competition? Click to read the full story.