Below are interesting stories the Banking.com staff has been reading over the past week. What have you been reading? Let us know in the comments section below or Tweet @bankingdotcom.
- BBVA Compass First to Allow Account Opening Directly from an iPhone
One issue banks have struggled with as they develop mobile banking apps is: how to get new customers on board? Account opening is a traditionally cumbersome process best done in person, where you can see and be quite sure the customer is who he says he is. Banks generally require customers to open accounts either in a branch or on the bank’s website. The version 2.0 iPhone app BBVA Compass is launching today is the first to let customers enroll in mobile banking directly from their phone, even if they don’t have an online banking account.
- Defending Your Apps
As banks battle financial malware, they strive against human nature. “The biggest threat, no matter what the device, is people themselves, who can be fooled by rogue applications or rogue messages,” says Chip Tsantes, principal, Ernst & Young. “That’s true in the online world and it’s becoming true on the mobile platform.” The Anti-Phishing Working Group estimates that 39% of all computers are infected with financial malware (malicious software designed to steal account information).
- Fiserv Combines Popmoney and ZashPay to Make One Large P2P Payments Network
Financial services technology provider Fiserv has announced that it will merge two of its existing solutions for person-to-person (P2P) payments to create a P2P network that includes 1,400 financial institutions and 35 million consumers. The company will combine ZashPay, the P2P payment product it launched in 2009, with Popmoney, a P2P product it gained with its acquisition of payments and aggregation company CashEdge last September. The combined service will be called Popmoney, and will feature easier navigation and advanced functionality, such as the ability to request money from individuals or groups, import contacts to a payee list and send e-greetings along with electronic transfers. All existing ZashPay and Popmoney customers will be upgraded to the newly combined and enhanced platform by the middle of 2012, according to Fiserv.
- Wal-Mart, Retailers Line Up Vs. Banks On Mobile Pay
Just as Bank of America (BAC) and other financial giants strive to come up with new ways to boost their income, Wal-Mart (WMT) and a group of retailers are looking to bypass the banks and tap the potentially lucrative mobile payment market.The retail leader, Target (TGT) and other chains are working on a system for using mobile phones to pay for things, the Wall Street Journal reported. They would compete against similar ventures from banks, wireless carriers and payment processors like Visa (V) and MasterCard (MA). The effort also comes amid Wal-Mart’s effort to offer more banking services like check cashing, money transfers, bill payment and prepaid debit cards.
- Banks’ fees pay off for credit unions
Consumers fed up with the rising tide of bank fees helped the nation’s credit unions more than double their number of new customers last year, new figures show. More than 1.3 million Americans opened new credit union accounts last year, up from less than 600,000 in 2010, the National Credit Union Administration reported. That brings the number of credit union members to a record 91.8 million. Activists say those numbers might swell even further if major banks try to squeeze more fees out of their customers
- With Mobile Internet, Money Is Up for Grabs
Ben Milne, a 29-year-old college dropout with a furry goatee and no background in finance, is on his second and third meetings with some of the world’s biggest banks. He thinks he has convinced them he’s “not full of it.” This is no small thing. The startup company he founded, Dwolla, has introduced an Internet-based payment system that aims to bypass credit card companies. Not only that, but to work properly, it will require rewiring a crucial hub of the U.S. financial system known as the Automated Clearing House, a network banks use to transfer payments electronically, although usually with a delay of several days.
- Bad guys aim apps at mobile gear; Text scams, viruses threaten security of cellphone users
Nearly one in five mobile phone users have experienced some type of security threat with their device. That’s the finding of a Cloudmark survey of 1,000 cellphone users, scheduled to be released Tuesday. Poison text messages, nearly non-existent in the U.S. a few years ago, grew 300% in 2010 and 400% in 2011, accounting for about 1% of all text messages. “We’ve gone from totally clean to a trickle,” says Rachel Kinoshito, head of Cloudmark’s security operations. “Most people are seeing about one a month.”
- Big Bank Weighs Fee Revamp
Bank of America Corp. is working on sweeping changes that would require many users of basic checking accounts to pay a monthly fee unless they agree to bank online, buy more products or maintain certain balances. The plan by the nation’s second-largest bank by assets is the latest sign of stresses in the banking industry at a time of low interest rates, slow economic growth and new rules limiting many types of service charges. The search for new sources of income is especially pressing at Bank of America, where 2011 revenue dropped by $26.2 billion, or 22%, from its 2009 level. Bank of America pilot programs in Arizona, Georgia and Massachusetts now are experimenting with charging $6 to $9 a month for an “Essentials” account.
- We Don’t Have a Mobile Payment Problem; We Have a Mobile Shopping Problem
Mobile payment systems feel like magic. Wave a smartphone in the air with a wandlike flourish, or tap two of them together like Captain Marvel’s bracelets, and invisible currency changes invisible hands. Contact-free and tap-and-go payments powered by NFC (near-field communication) give great demo. They’re all the rage at this year’s Mobile World Conference in Barcelona, where Spanish bank La Caixa just rolled out an ambitious citywide payment system. But even at a Google Wallet-friendly Starbucks, waiting in a 10-minute line only to pull a phone out of our pocket and fumble with it rather than a credit card barely feels like the future.