"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" 

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Mobile Text Banking and Sessioning

On Friday I received an alert for an article titled "ANY THOUGHTS ON CHASE’S TEXT-2-WIN CAMPAIGN" posted on the mopocket.com site. The article is primarily focused on marketing, but covers an interesting challenge that we'll all face as we enter the world of mobile banking via text/SMS.

One of the author's primary concerns with the Chase campaign is that text messaging should be used to, "create conversations and interactions that in the end draw people toward your brand physically and/or digitally."

First, let me say that the author is absolutely correct - this would be ideal. Unfortunately, due to the inherent constraints of SMS technology, this is not an easy task. In fact, the truth is that while basic interactions via SMS are extraordinarily easy the more complex interactions (i.e. the ones used for dynamic conversations) involve "sessioning" and are much more challenging.


Think of it this way. If a client sends a message to the the bank that says "hist" the response is simple - the bank returns the clients most recent transactions. However, what information should the bank send to the client if they receive the command "more?" The answer - the bank would have no idea unless they also know what information has been previously sent to the client.


Anonymous said...

So then why not just keep a record of the requests sent by the user?

Will Finley said...

What would be interesting, I believe, is to have the text session moved to a live respondent. Imagine if there was a mechanism to trigger the transfer - unrecognized command or specific request - from coded replies to live answers, that would be powerful. This is essentially what is done in the world of MMORPG's (ie World of WarCraft and Lineage II).

Anonymous said...


You raise an interesting point about SMS and its challenges around managing sessions. While it is true that a “basic” SMS service does not have the ability to handle the concepts of conversations or interactions, server side intelligence (like the technology developed and in use in the ClairMail solution) does keep track of the state of a conversation with an end user. In essence, the server technology “mediates the conversation”. It keeps track of who you are, what you want to do and what your preferences are (e.g. your do not disturb times, how you prefer to get confirmations, what you are authorized to do, etc.).

An example would be a customer’s experience with Mobile Lockbox. The customer would get an incoming notice that her bill is due. She could pay the bill immediately or wait until she gets another reminder message. With sophisticated server-side intelligence as in our solution, ClairMail can not only track the customer’s response to the message, we can also tell which message she is responding to (in case there are expedited payment fees that may apply, for instance).

SMS may pose some challenges if you tackle it alone. You can get to the desired end goal of session management and dynamic conversations with the right technology. It’s not easy, but it’s out there.

Justin Oberman said...

Hey Brandon, I am the author of that post and editor of MOpocket.com Thanks for the mention. You make a good point but I have no problem with the Banks SMS responses for utility interactions. I was specifically talking about their marketing campaign which, until my post, shed no light as to their SMS applications.

However, it would be interesting if the bank started actually responding to the "more" txts in person. This could be done by just scanning the catchall every once and a while. I know the Obama campaign does this for their txt service.

Abhishek said...

I think USSD mode of communication with the banks can overcome the drawbacks of SMS as USSD mode is like an interactive mode and plus its secure as it doesnt store any information on your cell phone. Currently this technology is being applied by Barclays bank in India to conduct mobile banking services. The following demo might shed more light on the USSD mode www.barclays.co.in/hellomoney