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.
- U.S. Postal Service Should Offer Loans, Bank Products, Agency Says
Washington — The U.S. Postal Service should consider fixing its massive budget shortfall by offering financial products such as debit cards, remittances and loans to underbanked consumers, according to a paper issued Monday by the agency’s Office of the Inspector General. The white paper said the beleaguered Postal Service could raise approximately $8.9 billion in additional revenue and reach potentially 68 million adults by offering such products, including international money orders and transfers.
- Cisco Research Reveals Web Threats Escalating While Mobile Attacks Are Still Rare
The cyberthreats companies faced were greater in 2013 than in any of the previous thirteen years, mobile malware is much less of a threat than anybody thought it would be, large company websites have formed a bad habit of connecting to questionable websites, most web exploits target Java, and hackers are making excellent use of cloud computing — these are a few highlights of Cisco’s Annual Security Report. The report is compilation of observations and numbers from the security intelligence and operations group within Cisco. This includes daily reviews of 16 billion web requests, 93 billion e-mails, 200,000 IP addresses, 400,000 malware samples, 33 million endpoint files and 28 million network connections.
- Ex-Googlers’ Startup Shape Turns Hackers’ Code-Morphing Tricks Against Them
Shape’s CEO Derek Smith (left) and VP of strategy Shuman Ghosemajumder, who once fought click fraud at Google. In late January a team of entrepreneurs out of Google and the defense world unveiled a startup called Shape Security. The 58-person Mountain View, Calif. company sells a pizza-box-size appliance called a ShapeShifter that plugs into a company’s network and obfuscates the code behind the customer’s website. It replaces variables with random strings of characters that change every time a page is loaded, all without altering the way the site appears to human visitors. This trick, known as polymorphism, makes it vastly more difficult for cybercriminals to use automated tools to crack passwords, scrape content from thousands of sites or use malware-infected PCs to spy on victims’ online banking.
- Listen to the Voices of Customers About Alerts That Matter
A potential example came to light this week during a Javelin webinar for Financial Alerts Forecast 2013: Security + Personal Finance = ROI, a report in which I call for banks and credit unions to expand the content of alerts in order to initiate regular “conversations” that provide compelling information, insight, and advice as customers bank, shop, buy, borrow, save, and invest. To start a discussion about financial alerts that consumers value most highly, we asked the nearly 50 attendees who work for banks, credit card networks, technology vendors, regulators and other industry players to identify which of five alerts U.S. consumers rated the most valuable. About 40% of the attendees selected alerts that notify customers of unusual transactions based on their purchasing behavior, with an additional 31% picking alerts that would warn customers when they’re at risk of overdrawing an account.
- Wells Fargo tests mobile banking voice recognition
Wells Fargo is testing voice recognition for use in mobile banking, according to The Charlotte Observer. The newspaper reported that Wells Fargo began the technology in its mobile banking app with employees using their real bank accounts in summer 2013. Brian Pearce, Wells Fargo’s head of mobile technology, told the newspaper that the bank doesn’t yet have a timeframe for rolling out voice recognition to its 12 million mobile banking customers.
- The Billion-Dollar Fintech Club (private companies)
Made it (recently went public/acquired): Xero, the New Zealand-based cloud accounting company, is valued at US$4 bil on NZ market. Qiwi PLC, the Russian payment giant, went public in May 2013 and is currently valued at $2 bil (Nasdaq). Lifelock went public in Oct 2012 and is currently worth $1.8 billion, it recently acquired Lemon to bolster its mobile identity protection services. Trusteer, the online security company, sold to IBM for $1 billion in 2013. Climate Corp (formerly Weatherbill), a weather insurance play, sold to Monsanto for $930 mil in Oct 2013 after raising $107 mil (Forbes). Braintree sold to PayPal for $800 million, $200 mil shy of the “club,” but not too shabby.
- Now T-Mobile Wants To Shake Up The Banking Industry
T-Mobile’s biggest goal over the last year has been to disturb the roost that rival U.S. carriers have been sitting comfortably in for years. By eliminating carrier subsidies, creating new payment plans for smartphones and allowing customers to upgrade their smartphones more frequently, its competitors—AT&T, Verizon and Sprint—have all raced to match or exceed T-Mobile’s offerings. T-Mobile announced Wednesday that it is getting into … personal finance. Called “Mobile Money,” T-Mobile’s new program is designed to disrupt the finance industry’s model of forcing people to pay to manage their own money via check cards, bank accounts and other fees.