March 24, 2014

CI First Look: Wells Fargo Digital Rewards

The vast majority of credit card firms have integrated redemption or cash back programs into their rewards-eligible credit card products, allowing customers to either accrue points from purchases and redeem them or receive cash back as a statement credit or deposit. Currently, many credit card rewards sites have outsourced electronics merchandise to brick-and-mortar stores such as Best Buy or e-commerce companies like Amazon. In January, Wells Fargo bucked this trend by introducing a Digital Rewards points redemption section on their Rewards site where customers can download digital products like songs, movies, videogames and eBooks directly onto their computers. This allows card holders to forgo driving to the store or registering for a third party account, saving time and unnecessary hassle.

March 06, 2014

Mobile Monitor First Look: BB&T, PNC Virtual Wallet, Popular Community Bank & Santander Bank

CI’s Mobile Monitor currently tracks 22 firms, a group that features mobile finance innovators from across the financial services industry. In this slide deck, we examine the mobile apps offered by four firms from outside our Mobile Monitor coverage group – BB&T, Popular Community Bank and Santander Bank and PNC (with a focus on Virtual Wallet) – to see what innovations they offer and how they fit into existing trends and industry standards. The reviews focus on mobile design and capabilities, highlighting any noteworthy features and key takeaways for competitors.

January 29, 2014

CI First Look: Bitcoin and Virtual Currency Basics Whitepaper

Virtual currencies are a decentralized form of “electronic cash” that users send to each other through a peer-to-peer payment system in exchange for goods and services. Consumers and investors have long debated the new type of currency’s long-term legitimacy. While some have flocked to use and invest in virtual currencies, others warn of a possible bubble in the making. This whitepaper offers an introduction to the world of virtual currencies. We begin by looking back at the history of currency and point to successes, failures and trends in an effort to show what is required of any currency to be successful. With that context, we then provide an overview of the predominant virtual currency, Bitcoin.

November 05, 2013

CI First Look – Santander Bank: What’s in a Name?

On October 17, 2013, Sovereign Bank, the U.S. unit of Spain’s Santander Group, officially rebranded itself with the name of its parent company, becoming Santander Bank. Having fully acquired Sovereign Bank in 2009 following the financial crisis, Santander Group delayed the rebranding until it could shore up the battered U.S. bank by boosting capital and asset quality within Sovereign and synchronizing multiple legacy systems to a single platform. Four years after its buyout, Santander Group felt the time was finally right to launch Santander Bank.

November 04, 2013

CI First Look: MetLife’s Direct-Sale Life Insurance Kiosks

Continuing the trend of financial services firms expanding to large-scale retail stores – Costco offering health insurance at locations in nine states and Walmart offering banking services in Mexico to name a few – MetLife has partnered with Walmart to become the first insurer to sell life insurance policies in a US retail department store. The pilot program, which was introduced last year, offers a prepaid one-year Simplified Term Life policy in Walmart stores to residents in Georgia and South Carolina. The program is also coming soon to Pennsylvania.

September 25, 2013

CI First Look: Senior Citizens and Mobile

Last week, we attended the September NYC User Experience Professionals Association (NYCUXPA) event at the Thomson Reuters offices in lower Manhattan. The presentation was led by Tammy Sachs, CEO of Sachs Insights, and focused on a largely overlooked segment of mobile device users – senior citizens. Tammy and her team conducted comprehensive quantitative and qualitative research on this group – dubbed the “newly mobile senior set” by a 2012 Pew Research Center study – and she was kind enough to share some of the results during an engaging presentation.

May 06, 2013

CI First Look – OppenheimerFunds’ Rebranding Efforts

OppenheimerFunds recently announced a new rebranding effort for its retail sites and as of May 1 its Investor and Advisor sites now feature a new visual design. Overall, the new look is very clean, giving off a modern impression. The new charcoal background is accented by bright green highlights and a new logo design featuring sharper lettering and added color. The new branding does not affect the layout or navigation and no new online content was introduced. However, the rebrand definitely breathes new visual life into Oppenheimer’s websites and overall online presence.

February 20, 2013

CI First Look – Eaton Vance

We are pleased to announce this month the newest addition to the Advisor Monitor coverage group: Eaton Vance. Formed by a 1979 merger of companies with histories stretching back to 1924, Eaton Vance has grown to hold $238.4 billion in assets under management, with over 1,100 employees working for the firm. The Boston-based asset management company’s site offers numerous unique features, and will be a strong addition to our Updates, Reports, Matrices and Videos.

December 20, 2012

CI First Look – Investors Bank Mobile App

As we have seen over the past year, mobile banking has become the standard, and is now expected of larger banking firms. In the case of regional banks, it is important that they keep up technologically if they plan to expand. Take for example Investors Bank, a small-to-midsized regional bank working primarily out of New Jersey. While they recently opened new branches in New York and have launched an aggressive ad campaign, perhaps their biggest move came today when they released their mobile banking app for the iPhone.