Payments and lending are two areas most vulnerable to fintech disruption. Digital payments in particular are especially vulnerable to the myriad of applications being developed and introduced by fintech firms. What could be easier than pulling out a smartphone and paying for products and services through an app that requires only a swipe or a thumbprint?
We have all seen the television commercials where everyone pays for dinner using their smartphones. How convenient! People embrace convenience – which drives adoption and spurs repetition … and competition!
Mobile payments are just beginning to find traction with consumers, especially those apps designed to eliminate small cash and check payments. You have to wonder if we are headed toward the checkless and cashless society that has been analyzed and discussed in banking circles for many decades since the introduction of the ATM. Delivery channels are now in place for that to eventually occur.
In 2015, I had the opportunity to purchase two tickets for face value to a Stanley Cup Championship game. However, I needed to get payment to my son’s friend in Chicago before we met the next day at the game. I remembered that my bank offered a P2P service which is ‘people to people’ or ‘peer to peer’ payment service. Here’s how it should have worked: I would create a transfer of funds from my checking account to my son’s friend who would then log on to my bank’s service and receive the funds. Simple, quick, convenient and secure! The only problem was that I could not find the P2P service on my bank’s website. After several frustrating minutes of searching, I gave up and made alternative payment plans.
My bank is a large Midwest-based regional bank. This well-known, top-tier bank is not effectively promoting digital payment services to its customers. I did eventually find the service on their website – a few days later. This is one reason why Venmo (which handles nearly 20% of all mobile payments) and other similar, well-known services have quickly become widely-accepted as an alternative P2P service, in spite of services offered by banks. Digital payment services may be a superior alternative to checks and cash for some customers. Fintech delivers the desired alternatives to traditional forms of payment.
Every bank should consider offering P2P services which today are readily available from core processing vendors. Many, if not most, banks pass all P2P transaction costs on to their customers. Although non-bank alternatives typically offer lower transaction fees to their P2P customers, banks are still able to offer their service at competitively-priced levels.
For example, Venmo is free when used with a bank account or funded by most debit cards. However, it charges a three percent fee when funded by credit cards. Dwolla, a similar service charges $.25 per transaction. Customers realize that the cost becomes insignificant when compared to the convenience it provides. A person can now replace cash and check payments with smartphone-based transactions. A smartphone is always there. Who leaves home without their smartphone these days? I certainly don’t.
Acceptance for digital payment services has been slow, but it is growing. Similar services are available from Facebook, Square, and Paypal, which owns Venmo. Apple is rumored to be considering a mobile payments product.
Venmo processed $4 billion in P2P payments during the second quarter of this year. That’s up from $3.2 billion in payments processed in the first quarter of this year and a 140% increase over the second quarter in 2015. None of these digital services are affiliated with any commercial bank. These companies are providing convenient solutions for bill payment and purchases and their services have been designed to meet the needs of your customers. These mobile payment services are making money off of your customers!
Your bank could and should be offering digital payment services and charging fees for this service. Be aware that digital products cannot be successful if they are not effectively promoted to your customers. These services should not be hidden deep within your website. If your institution offers a similar service or plans to, then promote it heavily, make it instantly accessible, and include it on your bank’s mobile app. Develop and implement a solid marketing plan that will continually reinforce the benefits of digital services available at your bank.
Today’s customers are quite savvy when it comes to the benefits of technology. But many may not even know this type of mobile payment service exists. Once they encounter the need, don’t let a fintech company steal what should be yours.