Features: Capital One to Add Receipt Capture to Mobile App

This post has been superseded at finovate.com.


Capital One sent an email (see below) to customers two days ago promoting a new version of its Wallet mobile app. Although it’s not mentioned in the email copy, when you click “Get Started” the resulting webpage (see above) reveals that the bank is about to add receipt capture to its app.

Normally, I’d save this news for a Feature Friday post. But I’m so excited to finally have integrated receipt capture on one of my cards, I just had hit publish. Of course, it’s “coming soon” so I can’t give you any insight into how it works, or if there is an OCR component. But the website copy does mention some level of integration, just not whether its automatic (OCR) or manual:

Simply snap a photo to connect a receipt with a charge in the app.  

American Express offers this capability, Chase on its Ink small biz app, as well as Expensify and a few other fintech startups. But Capital One is the first big Visa/MasterCard consumer issuer (that I know of) with the feature. I’ll let you know how it works.


Capital One email announcing remodeled native Wallet app (31 Aug 2015):




Update (3 Sep 2015): I omitted the Chase Ink card in the original post.

Design: Creating Online Awareness of Digital Banking

This post has been superseded at finovate.com.

design_iconThere is only one reason I visit a bank’s website: to learn about its online and/or mobile banking features. Granted, understanding digital banking is my livelihood. But normal people looking for a new checking account, credit card or loan, also need to understand digital capabilities. Even for those that need the comfort of knowing there’s a branch nearby, online/mobile is still a key attribute for the vast majority of consumers (and businesses) shopping banks.

So I don’t understand why digital features are often relegated to a sub-menu buried in the Personal Banking section. Of the 10 largest U.S. retail banks, only two, US Bank and BB&T, feature online banking in high-level navigation. This is little changed from our mid-2013 overview.

My favorite among the mega-banks (again) is US Bank, which highlights digital on the upper left and uses both “online” and “mobile” in the navigation tab:


placement also works with “Online Services” on the far right of the top line. While that naming is okay, it would be better to see “mobile” mentioned. So, I’d recommend changing it to “Online & Mobile,” which is the same number of characters.

There are already plenty of smaller banks and credit unions that are showcasing their digital features. For example, San Diego County Credit Union uses “Online & Mobile Banking” along its top navigation.


Image licensed from 123rf.com

Mobile Monday: Engaging Prospective New Customers

This post has been superseded at finovate.com.

mobile_phone_lineupHow important are mobile users to your sales efforts? 76% of Facebook’s ad revenue is from mobile (and it was considered by many to be a mobile laggard a few years ago).

Prospective customers are already visiting your website from their smartphones in massive numbers. Are you making a good first impression? Does the UI work across key devices? And more importantly, is there an easy-to-find path to mobile purchase?

This afternoon I visited 20 leading banking and personal finance sites (as a proxy for popularity, I used the 20 most downloaded free finance apps in the US Apple App Store, see list in footnote). And it was like a trip back in time before (desktop) websites had adopted browser design standards. By the numbers:

  • Excellent: 19 of the 20 had mobile optimized sites (Laggard = Navy Federal Credit Union)
  • Satisfactory: 14 of 18 had visible link for login (2 required a native app to login)
  • Needs work: 11 of 20 had a visible link to download the native app (including the 3 below)
  • Needs work: Only 3 of 20 used an initial “popup” screen that prompted to download the app, then the user needed to find a link to the non-app site
  • Needs work: 12 of 20 made a visible attempt to sell something
  • Fail: 6 of the 20 made a pretty marginal first impression including several of the biggest financial institutions in USA/World (American Express, Chase, Citibank, Mint, PNC, Wells Fargo)

My favorites (from this sample of 20, see footnote):

Bank: US Bank
Nice, engaging layout with clear path to more info; but missing link to download app


Runner-up: TD Bank
Easy to find customer service, login, location; but missing link to app


Favorite non-bank: Credit Karma
Good branding, clear get started button; but no link to native app


Least favorite FI: American Express (lots of competition for this one)
Too much emphasis on logging in, easy to miss card finder at bottom


Least favorite non-FI: Mint
Straightforward app link, but needs to better engage new user before offering the two choices; not very graphically interesting



Top 20 apps (in order at US App Store, 5PM Pacific 31 Aug 2015): Chase, BofA, Wells Fargo, PayPal, Capital One, Venmo, Credit Karma, Square, Mint, Acorns, GEICO, Citibank, Discover, American Express, USAA, Progressive, US Bank, Navy Federal, TD Bank, PNC Bank

#RockChalk (for Karl, Joe & Mary)

What Do We Call PFM as it Becomes Part of Digital Banking?

This post has been superseded at finovate.com.


The term PFM has gotten a bad rap. Clearly, Personal Financial Management is not a consumer-friendly term. You can’t use an acronym unless it’s ingrained in society (IRS, FBI, etc.). And stringing together three 3-syllable words to spell it out is too cumbersome (and doesn’t fit on a smartphone menu anyway).

So what do we call this thing formerly known as PFM? Today, I saw “money manager” used at America First Credit Union (an MX client). That’s a 56% reduction in syllables, but I fear it, and its longer sibling, digital money management, are still too generic to be meaningful for consumers. When you think about it, every single time you log in to your bank you are doing some type of “money management,” so that term doesn’t really call to mind the advanced feature set we in the industry have called PFM.

The best approach may be to simply not give it a name. PFM is really just additional features integrated into online or mobile banking. As those features become fully integrated, and relatively common, they become harder to single out with a unique term.

So here’s where I net out. Just between you and me, let’s keep calling it PFM within the industry (on our blog alone we’ve mentioned it in almost 500 posts). But when talking to consumers, let’s not create another confusing term. Especially since personal financial or money management is already an assumed benefit of digital banking.

Then, when looking to create more interest, use the classic marketing terms attached to “online” or “mobile” banking, for example:

  • Advanced online banking
  • Enhanced mobile banking
  • Do more with online banking
  • New & improved mobile banking
  • Features added to online banking
  • v2.0 mobile banking
  • Manage your money better with mobile banking

amex_cardsThat still leaves the problem of what to call it on a menu, or in a tab, if you offer a stand-alone service. Outside of banking, I think the most common term today is Advanced as in Google’s Advanced Search. Or, if you are potentially going to charge a fee, Pro is commonly used. If that seems too specific, it could be Premium or Select. Even the old credit card standbys, Gold, Platinum or Black, could be used.

Bottom line: FIs should use descriptions that fit with their other branding. Here, we are going to stick with PFM, with the understanding that the term should not be used on your website.


Opening graphic is from MX on the cover of its white paper on PFM Digital Money Management. 

Mobile Monday: Fintech Through the Ages

This post has been superseded at finovate.com.

There’s a big, missing piece with today’s money management (aka PFM) offerings:

Age appropriateness

What I mean is that most FIs offer a one-size-fits-all mobile app and that just won’t cut it going forward. As capone360_teen_checkingdevelopment costs drop (see Building it Out, below), it will be easier to cost-justify tightly segmented apps. One of the better examples (from the desktop), is CapitalOne 360’s Teen Money a program it inherited from ING Direct (which launched it exactly four years ago with a $10 million ad campaign).

How will this multi-app trend manifest itself? One of the more likely initial phases will be segmenting by life stage. For example, here’s a common example of 10 stages, along with key money management issues along the way:

  • Pre-teen: learning, saving, chore management, light spending
  • Teen: learning, saving, college planning, spending
  • College: learning, spending, expense sharing with roommates/parents, automobile
  • Singles: spending, renting, insurance, expense sharing with roommates, investing/401k, saving, credit
  • Young marrieds: mortgage, insurance, expense sharing with spouse, investing, saving for home
  • Family with little ones: insurance, spending controls/budgeting, investing, tuition, home equity
  • Family with teens: spending/budgeting, investing, saving for college, sharing expenses with kids, retirement planning
  • Empty nest: retirement planning, asset management, investing
  • Active retirees: asset management, estate planning
  • Homebound seniors: sharing control with kids, health insurance management, estate planning

All of those segments will likely have their own app or at least a way to easily customize a general app in a way that syncs with their needs without the clutter typical of many banking websites (though they are getting much better as building for mobile (responsive design), demands prioritizing features/content.

Building it Out

Given the 6, 7 and even 8-figure costs of major mobile initiatives, building 10 apps may seem ridiculously expensive. And it would be if it weren’t for cost savings enabled by third-party and SaaS services fed through APIs, a subject we touched on this recently in a post about the coming Golden Age of Fintech APIs.

If you are willing to forgo branding, you could provide age-appropriate apps for virtually no cost. For example, some smaller banks gladly refer their customers to Mint for budgeting/money management help or Credit Karma for credit management. It’s not a bad strategy. Sure, they’ll see targeted financial advertising, but that’s not going to matter if you provide a valuable service.

But we expect most banks and credit unions will eschew custom development and choose a full white-label solution such as MX, Backbase or dozens of others. Or alternatively, go with a hybrid co-brand, such as BancVue’s Kasasa or FamZoo for the teen/pre-teen crowd.


We’ll be looking at these issues and more at our second annual financial services developers event,FinDEVr, in October.


Graphic source: Linkedin

Feature Friday: Umpqua Showcases the Closest Branch on its Website

This post has been superseded at finovate.com.


I’m not a fan of bank branches (except Chase’s NE Seattle outpost, hi Ben). In my view, 80% of what goes on there is better done remotely, and the other 20% just doesn’t provide enough ROI. But if you do have good branches, you should at least use your digital presence to showcase them.

Probably the best example of growing a franchise using branching (at least in the United States over the past 20 years), is Umpqua Bank. It grew from a small community bank to a west coast regional on the back of its innovative branching strategy (Warning! Do not try to copy this, it’s not 1995 any more). So, it’s no surprise that they are one of the more adept FIs in showcasing their local, branch-based services.

Most large banks require users to enter a zip code to personalize the website experience. But even then, you generally have to go to a ATM/Branch finder to locate the closest branch. Umpqua wisely automates this process on both its desktop and mobile website, though it works more seamlessly on the desktop (see desktop example above).

umpqua_open_signThe bank uses visitor IP addresses to showcase branches in their city, but it goes one step further (at least in Chrome), by asking permission to use your location. If granted, Umpqua shows the exact branch closest to you. The branch name, address, and contact info are showcased right across the top of the screen. Finally, and I love this little touch, during open hours, there is an old-school “Open sign” in the right-hand corner. They could go one step further and add the temperature and maybe the time right below.

Those personalization techniques, while quite simple, makes prospective customers feel confident that the bank has a local orientation and really desires their business, whether it be digital or branch-focused.

Not everything Umpqua does is perfect. The bank also attempts to showcase local events on the left-hand column. But in my testing today, they were wildly off base. For instance, it listed a farmers market that was 40 miles away and didn’t mention the one within walking distance.

Tuesday Tactics: Opting Customers In to Proactive Fraud Alerts

This post has been superseded at finovate.com.

bofa_logoLast week, I logged into my Bank of America account (checking, personal credit card, business credit card) and the bank used a pop-up screen to gain my permission for proactive fraud alerts (see screenshot below). I’ve been a mobile user for seven years, so it wasn’t like they needed my mobile phone number. And as far as I know, I’d already selected all the available fraud alerts. So it seems that the bank is looking to get more specific permission, and perhaps uptake, to its proactive security communications.

Customers have a chance to choose text message alerts and/or phone calls. Then there is the usual T&C (terms & conditions) to agree to, and that’s that. It took all of 30 seconds and made me feel like Bank of America was watching out for me. So, if this makes the banks lawyers happy, it’s a win-win.



Help, My Apple Pay is Not Working

This post has been superseded at finovate.com.


The last few times (3 or 4?) I’ve tried to use Apple Pay it’s not worked. And when that happens at the POS you pretty much look like an idiot waving your fancy phone around and smacking it against the terminal (as if that would help). So yeah, I’m that guy holding up the line (though in my defense, not nearly as long as that person that still uses paper checks).

And besides looking like a fool, when Apple Pay is on the fritz I’m at a bit of a loss as to what to do next. I tweeted this today:

While it may appear snarky, it’s a serious question. When Apple Pay doesn’t work, there is no clear path to resolution. So here is what happened when I tried the various methods in my tweet.

A. Google it

At first glance, there seems to be promising results, including Apple Support. But alas, its FAQ makes no mention of it “not working,” but there was a way to get through the help topics and to an online/phone support area (see C below). And while there is much discussion on the Apple forums, the best advice was to “reboot” your phone, which is surprisingly effective for many.

Grade: Incomplete. While I was able to find Apple support within a few minutes, I had to go to the chatbot for a full diagnosis (see B below)

B. Contact Apple

applepay_support_choicesDuring my Google search I stumbled into the correct area to get to Apple Care support (see A above). While I had to go through a few screens in the self-service area, it only took about 30 seconds to get to the one that offered a choice of online chat, call center (with 2 minute estimated wait time), or alternatively, I could schedule a call (see inset).

As always, I chose online chat. The chatbot was good (not sure if/when a human stepped in), but it took a full 13 minutes to diagnose the problem (including looking up my serial number at the outset). Apple suggested I delete the existing payment card and add the new one, which was the right answer.

Alternatively, if you try to figure out the problem out directly on your phone, a search for “Apple Pay” within the phone (ie. Spotlight Search) directs users to the Passbook app. If you select the “i” button there for more information, you are directed to the bank’s call center (see C below). Alternatively, you can navigate directly to Settings, find Passbook & Apple Pay (below the fold), and locate the bank contact number.

Grade: C >> for the 13 minutes it took through Apple Care chat support

C. Call the bank (BofA)

I had just a single card, issued by Bank of America, hooked to Apple Pay. While I try to avoid call centers if at all possible (though, I have to say, I have been very happy with BofA call center support in the past), I called the number on the back. And while SIRI or whatever they call their voice recognition there, was not able to understand Apple Pay questions (“I hear that you want to make a payment, is that right?”) I was through authentication and to a live operator in about 3 minutes. I’d already figured out the problem during my 13 minutes with Apple Care (old card number), so I didn’t torture BofA and play dumb. But had I not known the answer already, the CSR was prepared to get Apple Pay support on the line for help.

Grade: B- >> for being able to get to Apple Pay phone support within 4 to 5 minutes (though did not test their diagnostic skills)

D. Use the mag stripe

Honestly, if I wasn’t into this stuff for my job, I would have just started using the mag strip card and forgot about Apple Pay until v2.0.

Grade: A >> for the 5 to 7 seconds it took to get the plastic out of my wallet, swipe, and stop holding up the line


The Fix

bofa_applepay_dontuseAs mentioned in B above, my Apple Pay problem could be solved either through the Passbook app itself or through the Passbook settings within the iPhone Settings area.

Here’s what I saw when clicking on my “card” in Passbook (see inset).

And that was the reason why Apple Pay had stopped functioning. Bank of America had revoked my card a few months ago during a breach related reissue.

But I’m not sure how I was supposed to know that I needed to update my Apple Pay card. I’ve searched my email from Bank of America, but I see no message from them on the subject. (While it could have been trapped by the SPAM filters, that would be unusual for messages from my card issuer.)

It’s completely understandable why the bank would pull my card out of Apple Pay if it was cancelled and replaced by a new number. But they either need to inform me, along with good instructions on what to do next, or better, simply replace my old card with the new one within Apple Pay, with notification of course (see update below).

But that’s probably v2.0 customer support. Until then, I’m glad there’s still a mag stripe as backup.


Update (19 Aug 2015): Apparently, Citibank is automatically replacing new card numbers into Apple Pay when the old one is canceled. Not sure if this applies to its entire portfolio or selected customers. (Thanks to Ian Kar for the pointer).

Design: Mixed Verdict as Chase Bank Mimics Mobile Look on New Desktop UI

This post has been superseded at finovate.com.


Sunday, Chase unveiled a new homepage (on right above), the second in the past 3 years. While the first (on left above), unveiled in Oct 2012, was a massive rebuild, the latest is a more of a large remodel. I was not a huge fan of the 2012 version, so I’m glad to see the improvement, especially downsizing the page-dominating login area.

The first impression is good and the overall look & feel supports the Chase brand. But I think other homepages (e.g. Umpqua Bank, Verity Credit Union or even Capital One) do a better job showcasing banking products as opposed to “lifestyle” content that Chase seems enamored with (see #5 below). However, website design is much more than the homepage and Chase’s previous design is a top performer in Change Sciences overall 2014 website usability and conversion ratings. So clearly Chase knows how to convert their massive website traffic. I’m sure they will be closely following the metrics after the change and will tweak any area that’s underperforming.

Chase’s press release provides a handy outline to lay out a few thoughts on its website. (And I apologize in advance to the Chase team for a bit of snark sneaking through; press releases have a way of doing that to a person.)

So here are the five points taken verbatim from the press release along with our comments:

1. Feel at home: Localized images personalize the site for returning visitors

My take: This is a great feature brought over from Chase’s mobile app. Customized images are a nice and a relatively easy way to localize; still important in a country with 10,000 banks and credit unions, 99% of which are local oriented. However, Chase’s implementation is a bit jarring. The eight images zoom right-to-left every 7 seconds and never stop. It is making me dizzy as I write this. Luckily, they don’t begin until after you’ve been on page for 20+ seconds, so you can login before the show begins.

2. Take a scroll: Customers can scroll – like any newsfeed – down the home page and have access to relevant content

My take: Take a scroll is a clever bit of wordsmithing, but it’s a bit unusual to claim it as a benefit. That said, I do like the comparison to a newsfeed, a more modern concept generally not associated with banks.

3. Navigate with ease: The easy-access menu stays clearly in sight as customers scroll down the home page

My take: Chase’s fixed navigation is a UI feature that’s important on longer pages. But is it smart to mimic the mobile UI so closely? A universal complaint about mobile websites is their inconsistent navigation compared to desktop websites where nav has become well standardized. Yes, the design looks cooler, like a ginormous iPhone screen, but does the esthetic win come at the expense of usability? With those jumbo images flashing by every 7 secons, you do not want to linger. (There is also inconsistent navigation, the homepage uses the mobile approach while the inner pages have the older navigation. I assume that’s temporary.)

4. See the choices: Customers can find which checking accounts, credit cards or mortgages best fit their lifestyle

My take: Chase claims that, “Customers can find which checking accounts, credit cards or mortgages best fit their lifestyle.”  I’m pretty sure real people don’t think about their bank accounts that way, but what I believe the bank is saying here is that exposing readers to products within the “news & stories” section (see below) will lead to more sales. I have my doubts, but Chase can alter this quickly if the metrics aren’t supporting the tactic.

5. Learn from both experts and customers: News & Stories’ timely advice and insights move to a more prominent place

My take: Big brands have been toying with “content marketing” off and on for 20 years. I understand the bank’s desire to market this way, but there are so many credible sources of personal finance info, you just end up looking amateurish compared with the NY Times, CNN Money, not too mention the hundreds of personal finance blogs. And even if you pay Pulitzer prize winning journalists to write original content, you cannot avoid the fact that the article is POSTED TO A BANK SITE. My advice, stick to facts, tutorials, and links to third-party resources.

Friday Feature Request: Banking/Card Transaction Annotation via Email

This post has been superseded at finovate.com.


On Fridays, I try to post a new digital banking feature I’ve discovered recently. But with nothing to report this week, I will instead take the easy route and make a request for a new feature:

Feature: Transaction annotation by email

BBVA’s Simple has been a leader in adding richness to transaction detail. We reported here on its web-based solution for annotating transaction in late 2012 (see screenshot at top of post). Basically, that capability needs to be ported to email for, forgive me, simpler access.

The specs:

  1. After each transaction that hits my account (preferably ALL my aggregated accounts) I get an email confirmation of each transaction with whatever data the bank/PFM can already provide on it (amount, date, merchant, category) and using a free-form field I add whatever text I want to the description, attach a photo or file (if I so choose), and categorize it (if I’m that kind of a user).
  2. Depending on how the feature is implemented, I press enter or hit reply and my annotations are recorded into my permanent transaction archives at the bank/PFM. (Note: You must have a long-term archive solution in place for this feature to have value).
  3. The transaction details must be in the email message itself so that I can use my email client to forward the message to others, flag for later attention, or file.
  4. The same thing could be done via text (with a link) or notifications, but email is the key for me.

Bottom line: For me this would be one of the best things a bank, card issuer or PFM could do to cement my loyalty (and even cough up a modest subscription fee). I want my transactions history to be both a personal diary (e.g. traveling or dining out), a tax record (for business or charitable transactions), and a searchable resource for future questions (eg. what did I pay last month for cable?).


Note: Hit me on Twitter (@netbanker) if you know someone already offering this.