Online Dating

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With all of the recent technological advances we have seen over past 5-10 years, a new dating phenomenon has emerged; online dating.  If I were to guess, there have to be over 100 online dating websites that people visit religiously in their search for true love. With the hustle and Imagebustle of everyday life, for many people, this just seems to make sense. Having the ability to find your potential life partner with the click of a button sounds almost like a dream come true. I am fairly positive we are all familiar with the way this process works, so I will spare you the details.

I have heard many mixed reviews on this particular form of dating. On one hand, it works flawlessly. There are countless numbers of testimonials that tell the love story of two strangers who met online, and are now living happily ever after. However, for many people, it is not that easy. (Poor Manti ImageTeo). Through this process I have realized, that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. That is the tricky thing about the internet, you are not always 100% sure of what you are about to get into.

While on my credit card search, I figured I would venture down the convenience route, and apply for credit cards online. With my experience, I can say that this is as far as my online relationship exploration will go. I got rejected, not once, not twice, but from every single credit card I applied to. They gave me the whole “It’s not you, well actually yeah it is you” routine. Without the personal interaction, it was easy for these companies to reject me Imageon the spot, without even wanting to know if I had a good personality. With online dating, you are evaluated initially by your picture. The searching party can make initial judgments, and then chose where to go from there. With credit card applications, you are evaluated by your credit score, which for me is non-existent. Regardless of my intentions, I had no chance of getting approved over the computer.

What I did discover is that it is critical to have a plan of attack. With online dating, you have to have an idea of what exactly you are looking for.  It is important your interests, intentions and needs are clearly defined, or else you will get lost. What exactly was my plan for finding the right credit card for me? Stay tuned to find out.

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Big Bank Visits

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Last week I went on some undercover bank visits. The purpose was to examine the customer experience of each location. Here is what I discovered:

(Due to the fact that I am undercover, bank names will not be revealed.)

Big Banks (Over $50 Billion in assets):

The first bank I visited was in Memphis, and was located on the bottom floor of a high-rise. The environment was very sleek. I was not greeted, but the overall layout was very self-explanatory. Though I did not talk to anyone, I could tell that this specific location was made for people who work in or around the building. My feeling is that in situations like these, customer service is important, but the ease of use and convenience factor is what will determine the overall success.

My second visit was to your typical side of the road, mainstream, popular bank. No one greeted me, or even looked up from what they were doing to notice I had walked in. Needless to say I was disappointed. Unlike the previous visit, this branch does not attract the same type of clientele, which was easily revealed from the customers inside. There was what looked to be a soccer mom, a teenage boy, an elderly couple, a man who looked like he had been painting all day and a mom in her workout clothing. These customers definitely need more attention paid to them.

Finally, to round out the “big” bank visits, I visited a location in Downtown Nashville. Located on the bottom floor of a high-rise, it was obvious that it was not a bank people went out of their way to go to, and from the lack of customer service, I don’t think the employees were used to seeing new people either. Much like the “business professional” bank in Memphis, the customers didn’t get special attention, but also didn’t seem to mind. Again, the overall ease of use factor was what made this bank successful. People were getting in and out in no time.

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When it comes to big banks, my overall feeling is that their customer turnover rate is much higher than those of smaller banks. These locations see a lot more customers day in and day out, so the personal connections do not need to be there. Although it is important that these customers are getting the attention they need, it is not critical the staff there sits down to share life stories and a good laugh with them. Big banks have a much different purpose than the smaller community banks do.

Even though a majority of us bank with these bigger institutions, I personally do not think the lack of personal interaction will urge me to switch banks. With the evolution of mobile and online banking, it seems like there is an even less need for customers to have these interactions at all.

In the past, has customer service from your bank affected your overall feelings towards banking there?

What is more important to you; Convenience or Customer Service? 

Are You Ready?

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The other night a group of my friends and I went out to dinner. After taking full advantage of the 2-1 pizza & beverage deal, we figured it was time to head home. We asked for the check, and all proceeded to pay. Each and every one of us used a card, not one person had cash. Then, I started to think back to past outings, and realized that it is always the same. It seems to be a very rare occurrence that any of us have physical cash on us.

After this revelation, I wanted to do some more digging. I opened up my handy dandy Bank of America app for the iPhone, and looked at some of my latest purchase prices. They are as follows:

  • $4.83
  • $4.69
  • $5.03
  • $1.07 <– my personal favorite.

These prices are pretty embarrassing to charge to a card, but is that becoming the new normal? There have recently been a lot of talks about transforming into a “cashless” society. A blog I read on BankNXT titled Imagining a Cashless Future talks about what that future could look like. Melanie Friedrichs says “Financial innovations come in many shapes and sizes, but for the most part they all follow a general trend: they turn physical processes into digital ones. The so-called “payments revolution” has often made me wonder what will happen when innovation manages to displace the most physical aspect of finance, cash.”

If in fact we are moving in that direction, will the idea take off among older generations, as it has with Generation-Y? An article on MyBanktracker.com talks about how some current and future generations understand that money is money, even if you don’t necessarily see it. The author of the article Simon Zhen notes “many proponents of cash argue that cash offers psychological feedback — it “hurts” when you see money leave your wallet. A recent experience tells me that, in the future, we will be able to feel the pain of spending, even if it’s through electronic payment methods.” While older generations are used to making cash payments, many young people are only familiar with card transactions. The same psychological element of cash may not be the same as was once believed.

I am very excited to see the next round innovations that are beginning to roll out to push a more cashless society, but I have a feeling many will not feel the same. What do you think; are you ready for a cashless society?


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Hit or Miss?

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For the past week I have been reading a lot of articles about Green Dot. For those of you who are not familiar with Green Dot, they are a leading provider of pre-paid debit cards. Just recently they announced their new mobile banking account GoBank. This product will focus on mobile wallet capabilities, payments and location based mobile marketing services. They offer custom visa debit cards, mobile deposits, a massive ATM network, online checkbook and person to person money transfers.

An article on Bankinnovation.net goes into more detail about the actual product, and what they expect from it. Here are of some of the innovative features that GoBank offers:

                                                  Fortune Teller (a PFM tool)

ImageP2P Social Payments from Facebook notifications, email or mobile number

ImageOnline Checkbook 

ImageCustom Debit Cards

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Mobile Deposit

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Two really neat features that they also offer are no overdraft fees, and they have a voluntary monthly fee that users can choose to reward or penalize Green Dot based on how they like the product. In the age of online and mobile banking, that is a way they chose to embrace customer relationships with the users.  Their main goal is to reach the “un-banked consumers”.  An article on Fox Business talks about how Green Dot Aims to Take On Banks With Its Mobile-Based Account.  In the article, it explains that “Green Dot is trying to cast a wider net by going after consumers who are dissatisfied with their traditional bank accounts as well as younger, tech-savvy consumers who constantly use mobile phones, thanks largely to social-networking apps.

This new and innovative banking approach seems to be spot on with Generation-Y customers. With social media being integrated into the platform, personal financial management tools, low fees for service and payment capabilities, we could possibly be looking into the future of banking.

I am very interested to see how GoBank is received, and if it is as successful as I believe it has the opportunity to be.  I am sure there will be a lot of mixed feelings about this innovative banking technique. What do you think about GoBank? Is this new way of banking a hit or miss? 

Goodbye 2012 …

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With 2012 now over, a New Year is upon us and it is time to finally welcome 2013! 2012 was a year that was filled with a bunch of different things. It started off by the New York Football Giants winning the Super Bowl (YES!), the Olympic Games, the Presidential Election, and many other notable events. Looking back on the past year, my life is completely different than it has ever been. I ended my collegiate soccer career, graduated from college, officially moved to Tennessee, entered into the real world, and finally realized why my dad always told me to not try and grow up too fast. It’s funny how that works.

It is interesting to me how when going through the year not much ever seems to change, but when you look back and reflect, so much is different.  With that being said, I am going to list a few trends that have transformed the banking world in 2012:

  • Mobile Banking – The Mobile Life 2012 study reveals that 50% of the world’s phone owners are either interested in mobile banking services or using them already, according to an article by The Media Online.
  • Online Banking – A study done by ABA found that 57 percent of banking customers 55 and older said they prefer to bank online versus at a bank branch or via an ATM.
  • Social Media – In an article on their website, DreamGrow, a social media and marketing resource firm, states that, “Banks are truly starting to use social media as platforms for one to one customer communication”.

Though these trends are likely to mature in the upcoming year, it will be very interesting to see what else 2013 has in store for the industry. Will it be Cloud Banking, branch atmosphere, or something completely different that will steal the show? I guess we will all just have to wait and see.

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The Most Wonderful Time of The Year.

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It is the week before Christmas and it is very hard for me to believe that the Holiday season is already here. At least for me, it is a time of year I look forward to for months. Then before you know it, the month passes and you go on waiting all over again. I don’t know if it’s the fact I’m out of college with no winter break, or the unseasonably warm temperatures we are getting here in Nashville, TN, but Christmas has really snuck up on me this year. What makes matters even worse, is the fact that I have not even started Christmas shopping.

Now I’m sure many of you will think it is because I am a huge procrastinator, and that may be somewhat true, but I have to say that I have tried going to the mall, but have come out empty handed each time. I was talking to my dad last night about the whole idea of Christmas shopping. He proudly admits that he has not stepped foot in a mall during the Holiday season in years. This conversation somehow turned into a discussion on banking convenience.

He said “I can’t imagine switching to a different bank, not because the service is great, but because I never have to actually go to the bank. If I want to deposit a check, I can take a picture of it. If I want to make a transfer, I can do it on the app.”

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It is interesting that we have begun to see a shift of importance from great customer service and in person buying, to convenience. Yes, customer service is still a VERY critical component of any business, but it is not something that is looked at in the same light as it used to be. The same can be said for in person buying. Online shoppers in the United States are predicted to spend around $54.47 billion this holiday season, up 16.8% from $46.63 billion last year according to Internet Retailer.

With that being said, I am going to start and end my 2012 Christmas shopping tonight online, mostly because tonight is the deadline for ensured delivery by December 24th. I hope each and every one of you have a very Merry Christmas & Happy Holiday!

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Moving Forward

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In this day and age technology has become a major part of our lives. Nearly everyone you see has some type of smart phone or PDA. This trend may be a little shocking for some of the older generations, but for my generation and below, it is the norm. I have had a cell phone since I was in high school, but my younger sister on the other hand got hers when she was in 3rd grade. Many people in my age group, the 20-somethings, do everything on our smart phones; we can even go as far as hanging out together via FaceTime. (Sad, I know). I believe that is why we do not even think twice when it comes to mobile banking. The overall convenience of it totally outweighs any type of reservations we might have. As I have read more about mobile banking technology, and the reluctance of the older generations to get involved, it has made me wonder, is it really safe? If so, why isn’t everyone doing it? 

As I dug deeper to find answers, I found a great article that addressed this question. Mobile banking is gaining customer confidence because of three main factors. First, when you do a mobile banking transaction it is linked directly back to your specific mobile device. This lowers the overall risk of doing the transaction. Second, you are able to access real time information on potential fraud via text messages, or other forms of communication provided by the bank. Third, enabling your GPS settings can limit the amount of potential fraud because it allows banks to see where you are when a transaction is made.  

Upon answering my first question, I was able to stumble upon the answer to my second question. In the same article, there were some great statistics about the percentage of people who do take advantage of mobile banking. 84% of Americans use their phones on a daily basis to do the following activities: Social Media, Texting and Talking, Watch TV, Email, and Banking. 1 in 5 smartphone users claimed to use mobile banking. According to this article, 1 in 3 users are expected to participate in mobile banking by 2013. This is where a huge generation gap is present however. 44% of the mobile banking users are made up of the age group of 18-29 year olds. Only 6% of users 60+ years of age take part in this trend.  This whole generation gap is actually somewhat shocking when you really take a look at it.

Looking back just 10 years, it is amazing how different the technology was. In the year 2002, wireless headsets were just invented. Now days, in quite a few states, it is pretty much illegal to drive a car without using some type of hands free device. As technology trends change, it is so important that you do not get left behind. What is the most interesting thing to me however is the fact that it is becoming nearly impossible to get left behind. The question is, will things stay this way for a while, or will we be constantly trying to catch up to the new trends? I guess only time will tell. 

 

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2000                 2012 

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2000 Apple Laptop

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              2012 Apple Laptop