If They Can Do It, So Can Banks

March 31, 2009
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fring2The other day my brother called me from his cell phone. Of course receiving his call from a cell phone is not really a big event. It happens all the time. Fifteen years ago it might have been a big deal. He probably would have been calling me to say “Dude, I’m calling you from a cell phone.” It would have been a big event because airtime was fairly expensive 15 years ago and mobile phones were mostly reserved for people driving BMW’s.

Today, a cellular call from my brother is about as exciting as watching the traffic crawl along outside of my office window. But this wasn’t a typical cellular call. This call was transmitted from an iphone to my computer via Google talk.  Among other things, Fring allows you to use your iphone to make calls to your instant messaging friends using an instant messager like Google Talk. Your data connection transports your voice over the internet.  Thus, Fring allows you to talk all day long without using minutes from your call plan.  Skype offers a similar service for Windows mobile devices.   Fifteen years from now, I might think a VOIP conversation that originates on a mobile phone is mundane.  Today, I am intrigued by the success of Fring despite a business model that competes with the mobile carriers that supply the bandwidth that on which Fring depends.

oystercardIf a startup like Fring can deploy its service without a partnership with mobile carriers, why can’t  banks do the same?  Do banks really need carrier cooperation to roll out mobile NFC payments?  As I mentioned in a previous posting, smart phones, cheap data plans, and mobile market places are enablers that make it much easier to offer mobile services without carrier cooperation. Fring is a terrific example of  those enablers in action.

Banks may not even need device manufacturer support.  A Hong Kong company is set to produce an NFC device (e.g. a sticker), that communicates with the handset via bluetooth.  Thus, users can turn their phones into a smart electronic ticket, rewards card, or payment device without buying a new phone or waiting for manufacturers to include NFC support in their next handset.

So it seems the chicken and egg problem has been solved.  We have some eggs. Now it is up to financial institutions to start making them hatch.

Broadcast Your Payments on Twitter

March 11, 2009
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Broadcast Your Payments on Twitter

I am a believer in the potential payment opportunities afforded by Social Networks. That’s why when I read about Twitpay,  I immediately went out and signed up for an account.  Signing up for Twitpay was fairly simple. I followed Twitpay on Twitter, and then claimed my account on the Twitpay.me site. Twitpay sent me...
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Google Moderator: An Easy Way for Banks to be Social

March 6, 2009
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Google Moderator: An Easy Way for Banks to be Social

As Banks struggle to maintain their credibility, it is especially important to build goodwill, establish trust, and be concerned without seeming trite.  Many, many articles have been written on the value of web2.0 tools and their ability to engage customers in conversation.   Personally, I hate to label blogs, wikis, and social network sites as “web2.0″.  To...
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Lessons in Marketing by Barney Frank

February 27, 2009
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Lessons in Marketing by Barney Frank

I really try hard not to throw around my opinions about the current economic problems.  There are already plenty of people, most of them much smarter than me, who do enough pontificating without adding my opinion to the mix.  David Brooks writes “I worry that we’re operating far beyond our economic knowledge. Every time...
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How Safe is Mint?

February 26, 2009
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How Safe is Mint?

Mint owes much of their success to the ease in which  they allow you to setup access to your various bank accounts. The technology behind Mint – normally referred to as account aggregation – is not new. Earlier this decade, account aggregation was the next big thing in internet banking. Many banks and service...
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RFID: Share Your Personal Data with the World!

February 24, 2009
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RFID: Share Your Personal Data with the World!

A few weeks ago I wrote that contactless payments will help drive mobile banking adoption. What I didn’t say is that you can also use RFID to broadcast your personal information to the world.  Yes, RFID enabled passports can double as your personal radio station that keeps playing your same personal info over and...
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