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Banking Trend Tracker Newsletter April 2009


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This is the April 2009 edition of the Luckie & Company produced Banking Trend Tracker newsletter. It is a quick topical snapshot of general trends, social media and traditional advertising in the financial services marketplace for April. For more information or back issues, visit

Published in: Economy & Finance, Business
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Banking Trend Tracker Newsletter April 2009

  1. 1. First Citizens Bank recently announced a first-of-its-kind program that gives “free money” bonuses to eligible customers who make frequent check card purchases. First Citizens FreeMoney Bonus Program is a new checking account-based program that rewards customers when they use their personal Visa Check Card for non-PIN transactions. Once a monthly qualifier is met, the bank deposits $1 for each eligible transaction of $25 or more into a client’s special savings account. “Unlike other check card programs, every $1 bonus is on us,” said Doug Sprecher, spokesperson for First Citizens. “What sets the FreeMoney program apart is that customers use our money, not theirs, to save, so it gives them another opportunity to build their savings in this tough economy.” Source: 2
  2. 2. Citi and MySpace are launching a credit card through which users can redeem reward points for song downloads, as well as access comedy and musical shows and a chance to win a secret show. In addition to rewarding points in traditional ways (such as purchases and paying one’s bill on time) the Citi Forward by MySpace card also rewards consumers for “socially responsible acts” such as donating to local food drives, switching to paperless transactions and installing energy-efficient light bulbs. Source: 3
  3. 3. College students are in a tough place these days with the economy in a shambles, loans drying up, and Mom and Dad’s 529 in the tank. But many are turning to friends and families for donations and loans. GreenNote connects needy collegians with friends and family who make loans at a reasonable set interest rate of 6.8%. facilitates direct donations, typically between $10 and $100. And is designed to help good students get financial gifts for achieving good grades. All of these sites evade SEC scrutiny by trying to amp the “lending a hand” aspect of family and friends, rather than acting as investment tools for would-be loan sharks. A whole new generation of online tools is allowing desperate consumers to work their networks for what they want and need. Taking the profit motive out of peer-to-peer lending through regulation may slow its growth, but consumers are finding good work arounds. Source: Iconoculture 4
  4. 4. In an innovative travel promotion that puts the traveler in total control of his journey, HSBC created a build-your-own magazine kiosk at Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 1. For two weeks, travelers passing through were given the opportunity to become editors-in-chief of their travel reading materials. After perusing a selection of loose-leaf articles featuring various topics like arts, media, culture, health, sports and politics, visitors mixed and matched what they wanted and took their selected pages to the “binding bar.” During the course of the pilot, 2,030 customized magazines were created and more than 7,000 travelers visited the stand. Control is one thing today’s travelers have little of. A customized element during the travel experience is not only empowering, it shows a brand that illustrates a strong understanding of consumer relevance. Source: Iconoculture 5
  5. 5. Bank of America’s foray into mobile banking is more than a gimmick, and its iPhone application is more than just a reason to issue a press release. Underlying all of the marketer’s moves into mobile services and marketing is a key insight: Give people more control over their banking on their own terms, and you’ll win their loyalty. BofA is one of a small but growing group of marketers who have figured out that mobile marketing isn’t about advertising. That’s not to say mobile advertising will play no part, but that mobile, like most things digital, is not a channel so much as a way consumers live their lives and, consequently, a way marketers have to conduct their business. The biggest U.S. bank launched its mobile Web site in 2007, becoming one of the first major U.S. banks to invest in the platform, positioning it to take advantage of the next frontier: mobile transactions. BofA was the first to launch an iPhone banking application, today the most-downloaded financial app. With more than 2 million of its 59 million customers using its mobile banking application, BofA can lay claim to having the highest adoption rate of mobile-banking usage among its competitors. Source: 6
  6. 6. Colorado’s FirstBank made a bold contemporary statement of sorts during baseball’s opening week. Flying above Coors Field during the Phillies-Rockies game was a small plane towing a huge sign that read: “This is the closest thing we have to a private jet.” No cushy executive perks or bailout bucks for these toque-topped, frostbitten local bankers. In your face, Bank of America! Actually, FirstBank’s earlier effort inviting customers to bank in ski masks probably came closer to capturing the tenor of these tense times. Source: 7
  7. 7. Walmart is already riding a massive wave of Great Recession popularity thanks to its focus on one simple goal: Saving customers money. In February 2009, the company rolled out an even more aggressive program aimed squarely at the financial services industry. Along with its low-cost check-cashing and remittance services, “Operation Main Street” is offering Walmart customers $3 prepaid reloadable Visa cards with no overdraft fees. In addition to the debit card, Walmart is partnering with Visa to offer consumers “Visa Practical Money Skills For Life,” a broad financial-literacy program. Walmart says 35 million low-income Americans are unbanked or underserved by the financial services industry, and that a simple prepaid debit card can save them $50 million per year. Walmart continues to push the envelope in helping middle- and low-income consumers save money. The company has been slowly but surely moving into financial services to get to the heart of the matter, and to make it easier for customers to spend money there. While plans remain mysterious about whether the company will get around to offering its own “clean” credit card, that may be moot as consumers have moved en masse from credit cards to cash and debit cards. Source: Iconoculture 8
  8. 8. MasterCard Worldwide has teamed up with Blaze Mobile to introduce the Blaze Mobile MasterCard PayPass mobile payment sticker. The small mobile payment sticker can be affixed to any mobile device, enabling it to be used for “Tap & Go” purchases at any of the over 141,000 merchant locations that accept PayPass. The mobile payment sticker is tied to a prepaid account and is issued by MetaBank. “This is part of our overall mobile strategy to let people pay using their mobile phones at the point of sale,” said Simon Pugh, head of mobile for MasterCard. Source: 9
  9. 9. If you haven’t been following Twitter the last few months, you may not realize it now has almost eight million monthly unique visitors. That’s almost double the traffic it had just two months ago and a nearly a nine-fold gain from a year ago. To put that traffic in perspective, it’s more than half that of The New York Times and slightly more than banking giant Wachovia. Financial institutions are pretty new to the micro-blogging platform. In a recent search, we found 15 U.S. banks and 22 credit unions with active Twitter feeds. There were also nine international banks for a total of 46. Click here for a list of these 46 institutions. Participating in Twitter is a low-cost entry into social media that can actually help save a customer relationship or three. Compared to blogging, it is much less labor intensive. It's also less of a marketing platform given the 140-character limit for posts. Source: 10
  10. 10. Previous editions of this newsletter can be found at If you wish to be added to the monthly distribution list for this newsletter, please send an e-mail to 11