9 December 2011

Interview: "Should Banks Bother With Social Media?", PYMNTS.com

Should Banks Bother With Social Media?

An interview with me at PYMNTS.COM:

Despite concerns about regulation and loss of control, Robert Roessler of MHP Communications argues that social media initiatives are no longer an option for FIs – but a necessity. He shared with PYMNTS.com his views on the specific benefits social media – both for revenue and product innovation – and weighs in on the key debate: should your employees have access to social networking sites at work?

Published 9 December 2011, read the full article here:

8 November 2011

Blog post: "Should banks really bother with social media?"

For banks, using social media is a relatively new and challenging concept. The industry is heavily regulated, and yet there is uncertainty how regulation actually affects financial institutions’ social media efforts. The FSA guidelines for example are – to say the least – brief and vague. The suitability of social media as a method of communication has therefore been heavily debated for many years, leading to a growing void between banks and other more social media-friendly corporations. In addition, the majority of banks ban social media platforms from office desktops.
However, banks have now started to realise that they have to embrace social media to catch up with other industries – despite unclear regulation and a perceived loss of control over stories. These are some of the key findings of our recent survey amongst heads of communications and PR managers at global banks. This increasing interest is not only for banks to engage with customers. Employees feel entitled to use and access social media in their professional lives. According to research by internet security company Clearswift 26% of employees would be de-motivated by a stricter policy on social networking introduced by their employers and 14% would try to work around the rules. 3% would even consider leaving (presumably having first tried scouring LinkedIn to find a new job).
This does not have to be the route for banks. There are now a range of successful and compelling examples of how they can benefit from opening up to social media and planning engagement programmes. First Direct’s Little Black Book project is one, Wells Fargo’s use of social media to improve customer service is another. Many more banks will follow their approach, and this will be a matter of time only. And, certainly, of clearer regulation.

26 July 2011

Blog post: "Cash in or cash out?"

Once everyone’s darling, the fall of cash has been spectacular. Take last year’s announcement from a telecoms provider and supermarkets in the Netherlands stopping accepting cash payments, for example. Or the survey commissioned by the UK Payments Council that concludes that “by 2050, using cash could well be a minority activity [... and] a progressive move away from cash could hold many benefits.”
There is a point to this. Reports claim that cash costs every person in Europe 130 EUR a year for creating, distributing, collecting and destroying coins and notes. There are other downsides: 25 per cent of employees in Swedish retailers have been victims of violence during robberies, and there are calls to end the use of cash for theft prevention purposes. And obviously cash is a non-digital asset which cannot be spent on online purchases.
Mobile payments are therefore seen as the “new cash” and the way forward to bridge offline and online worlds. With more than 4 billion mobile phone users globally and only 1.6 billion bank accounts, the market opportunity is huge. Juniper predicts that 50 billion USD in worldwide sales revenue will be generated by Near Field Communication (NFC) mobile payments by 2014. PayPal expects that its volume of payments processed via mobile devices will exceed 3 billion USD this year. The company also predicts that by 2015, consumers will be able to leave their wallets at home as digital currencies replace traditional payment methods.
However there is some way to go. Research found that 90% of UK consumers have not heard of NFC, and more than two thirds have not come across the term “mobile wallet”. The technology and business case may be in place, but whether it’s time to cash out or not is still up for debate.