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Name: Kent McNeil
Title: Principal
Company: DonRiver

Tabbed Out - A New Concept for Mobile Payments  Jan 19, 2010

I thought I would write about a recent interview I conducted on Mobile-Financial regarding an innovative and convenient new mobile payment service being launched.  First, because it’s fresh in my mind, and second, because I think it is a really interesting new service and one I know I personally will use.

ATX Innovations has launched a service called ‘Tabbed Out’ which allows patrons of bars and restaurants to review and close out bar and restaurant bills via their mobile phone. It is both a convenient and safer way to pay your bill.  After your meal and/or a few rounds of drinks when you are ready to leave, or “tab out” you simply access the application, review your bill to ensure it is correct, select your tip amount and then pay the tab.  A receipt can be emailed to you if you would like.

The customer’s credit or debit card information is stored directly with the POS so you do not have to hand it over to the waitperson.  It’s a great concept and one I know both hospitality establishments and customers will both equally enjoy. It is also great to see a new mobile payment service launched in the U.S.   

For more information about the “Tabbed Out” service please

Kent McNeil's blog

Pivotal Year for Mobile Banking: 2009  Jan 05, 2010

In an article from Mobile Banker (American Banker) several industry experts are listing 2009 as the year mobile banking officially became commonplace and customers consider it a standard service to be offered by their financial institutions.

Fred Brothers, managing partner of technology consulting firm eCom Advisors, states in the article, "I think we will look back at 2009 as the pivotal year for mobile banking…I don't think people appreciate that yet."

Later in the article Richard K. Crone, the founder of Crone Consulting LLC, states, “Mobile banking and payments are taking off much faster than online banking did.  People are already comfortable with the idea of managing information with phones, and managing financial details feels like a natural next step to many consumers.  With online banking, we had to wait for people to get modems in their computers and sign up for online service and get familiar with the process," he said. "None of that is necessary with mobile banking. All you have to do is to create the service."

And if 2009 was the year when mobile banking became commonplace for people who already bank online,” Crone said, "the next year won't be about bringing Internet banking customers to the mobile. The next year will be about customers who

Kent McNeil's blog

ROI for Mobile Banking Continued  Nov 24, 2009

In my last blog I asked what the ROI or value proposition for mobile banking is, and what specific areas the ROI or value proposition depended upon.   A few of the obvious questions are: Will mobile banking reduce costs by converting a certain percentage of activities from higher cost channels? Will it help retain customers?   Will it attract a new demographic?


The list of questions goes on and on, but the ultimate factor I was after is how mobile banking will impact a bank’s bottom line.   Currently I cannot find a bank that can prove an ROI or cost justification for mobile banking.  There are studies out there of course, but they are flawed due to their assumptions, sometimes broad and ambitious, which are not backed by real world results, as of yet anyway. 


With a lack of tangible evidence to gain insight from I decided to review the ROI for Internet or online banking to try and find some possible correlations.  


The questions, skepticism and arguments with online banking (in the early stages of Internet banking at least) are remarkably identical to the ones currently facing mobile banking.  Although this does not provide an ROI or cost justification, this should be somewhat encouraging for mobile banking.


Reduced costs were the main

Kent McNeil's blog

ROI for Mobile Banking?  Nov 17, 2009

What is the ROI for mobile banking now?  And by now I mean today, and not in 5 years.  Many of the ROI or Value Propositions for Mobile Banking I have read and researched miss the mark by only briefly mentioning, or worse yet not at all addressing, the cost the banks will need to incur to launch and support the mobile channel.

Based on what I have read it would appear that there are only benefits to mobile banking, and that banks can effortlessly and for very little investment implement these solutions.  Of course implementing a mobile banking solution will cost money.   It may or may not be difficult from a technology perspective (lets remove that from the equation), but it will be a cost expenditure in some form, which raises many questions:  

How does a bank justify the expense or measure the success? 

  • Will costs be reduced?  Will the cost go up briefly for implementation, but decrease long term?
  • Is it all about customer acquisition and retention? And if so, is this the only benchmark to measure a successful mobile banking initiative? 
  • Is the reduction in fraud going to justify all the costs and potential increased costs?
  • What percentage of shift from higher cost channels needs to occur?
  • Will you need to reduce

Kent McNeil's blog

Mobile Banking - It deserves its own strategy  Aug 18, 2009

I recently finished compiling a mobile banking vendor assessment at a client’s request.

After we looked at the results we reexamined their mobile banking strategy, having a long-term plan is the only way to select the proper mobile banking solution.   

Why do I say that??  Because complimentary offerings vs. basic banking features and which or how many communications protocols will be utilized are critical before selecting a mobile banking vendor solution.   And those are the easier decisions to make.

To set the stage and look at a few of the decisions that need to be made, let’s look to ABI Research which recently ranked/rated mobile banking vendors and the criteria used in their rankings.

ABI Research Ranking Criteria


The seven categories are:
1)    Bank relationships (both the relative size and number of banks they have relationships with)
2)    MNO relationships (both the relative size and number they have relationships with)
3)    Solution breadth (does the vendor offer solutions by SMS, mobile Internet, and mobile application
4)    Complementary products (products related to mobile banking that a prospect might be interested in, such as domestic p-to-p, mobile top-up, mobile international remittance, bill pay, mobile commerce, etc.
5)    Partnerships (distribution partners beyond banks or

Kent McNeil's blog

Mobile Banking - Ranking the Vendors  Oct 13, 2009

A couple of months ago I wrote a blog about Mobile Banking and the fact that Mobile Banking initiatives should have their own strategy. 

After receiving numerous amounts of feedback about the blog I have decided to share the actual research. 

16 separate vendor products were researched and rated.   Outlined below are the areas researched for each of the vendor solutions.

1)   Functionality

2)   Ease of Activation

3)   Security

4)   Partnerships

5)   Geographic Presence

6)   Implementation Experience

7)   Financial Institution Relationships

8)   MNO Relationships

9)   Financial Stability of the company

10)  Complimentary Product offerings

11)  Primary Focus Area

I have removed the ratings as you will need to decide given your organizations objectives, which solution will be the best fit within your organization but it will serve as a very good starting point when making decisions.

If you are a registered user you can either email me or leave your email address in a comment and I will email you the research report.

Kent McNeil's blog

Mobile Banking Users - Who are they?  Aug 27, 2009

It is important to have a goal for the mobile channel.  That sounds a bit obvious, but many surveys over the past 18 months have found many financial institutions are moving to the mobile channel simply because their competition is, or they believe their customers want the service.

Keeping up with your competition and giving your customers what they want is rarely a bad thing, but if financial institutions are not careful and do not conduct the necessary research they may miss the mark.   

Simply rolling-out a mobile banking service may not work if you are marketing to the wrong group, or worse yet, implementing a solution that your customers do not like, or know how to use.  

Cost savings should be front and center as a main objective for financial institutions offering mobile banking services.  Not to say that one objective is mutually exclusive from the other, but if you focus on costs savings as the goal for the mobile channel, at least in the short term, you are more likely to understand the demographics that will ultimately drive adoption of the service.

Beyond Online Banking

First and foremost, don’t simply focus on the current online users.  They are likely to

Kent McNeil's blog

Mobile Banking Triples  Jul 21, 2009

Americans are starting to use mobile banking more and more frequently.  No surprise the growth is being driven by younger customers, with the most significant increase in 18-34 age group but the good news is usage increased for all age groups surveyed.

This is a promising trend and demonstrates mobile banking and related services are here to stay.  As the industry continues to mature and slowly moves towards consistent products and service offerings, you can be sure mobile banking will be mandatory for all banks as a core service.

According to an article in the American Banker, mobile banking is 12-18 months away from becoming a competitive advantage for banks, where uses are selecting financial institutions because of a mobile offering.  

As with Internet banking, once the service is established as a core service, the value added services are not far behind.  

For some of the statics and a quick read, please read the article below.

Kent McNeil's blog

3rd annual mobile financial services summary report  Jun 02, 2009

Finally back after a good week in Singapore at the 3rd annual mobile financial services conference.  The conference lasted two days but many attendees stayed four days to attend the pre and post conference workshops.

NFC was the conference’s unofficial theme; I personally think it leaned too heavily towards NFC but all companies that presented did a great job, so it was definitely interesting and worthwhile. 

Key themes throughout the week in no particular order….

Despite the abundance of NFC trials the value chain is complex and the revenue sharing model is not established in most markets and/or between key players/providers.  

Micro-loans and Micro-credit initiatives are benefiting from Mobile Financial Services (“MFS”)_.   Currently, within non-mobile enabled micro financie, the majority of the loan officer’s time is spent tracking down payments through manual and paper based processes.  With MFS this time is significantly reduced, as the end to end process, from enrollment to loan collection is electronic.

Regulators must be involved to achieve success.  Mpesa has proven that regulators do not want to become a barrier and will work with organizations as long as they are transparent in their operations.   It is critical to engage regulators early in the process.

Country specific

Kent McNeil's blog

P2P Transfers In Industrialized Economies Revisited  Apr 29, 2009

In my previous blog I asked the question “Do people in industrialized countries have a desire or need to transfer money to individuals?”   The answer is Yes but do not look to the mobile phone channel for the facts, at least not yet.
Again we are trying to determine if the concept of P2P money transfer will work in markets that have established, extensive and trusted financial infrastructure.  
Lets take a look at social networks and specifically focus on Facebook.  Blog provider, Inside Facebook, has recently released an interesting and fact filled report on these P2P transfers.
“Inside Facebook’s survey of leading payment providers on the Facebook Platform shows that payment providers overall experienced about 35% growth in both overall transaction volume and dollar volume on Facebook for the first quarter 2009 “ as reported by Inside Facebook.
There are already well over a dozen established providers on Facebook delivery various services such as virtual currency, virtual gifts and micropayments services just to name a few.   
In fact Facebook offers their own version of virtual currency.  “Facebook credits,” which are used to buy Facebook Gifts …. is rumored to have done between $30-$40 million in virtual gift sales

Kent McNeil's blog

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