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BBVA Compass unveils bilingual iPhone app

BBVA Compass further expanded the reach of its mobile banking apps with the introduction of its bilingual iPhone app.

“This is part of our ongoing commitment to continually improve our mobile banking solutions, adding features and services to better serve our customers’ needs,” said Alex Carriles, executive vice president and director of Mobile Strategy and Retail Innovation at BBVA Compass. “We currently serve a number of markets with a growing Spanish-speaking population, so we wanted to give those customers access in the language that is most comfortable to them.”

The bank remains committed to providing native applications for the most popular mobile platforms, allowing users to enjoy a mobile banking experience that is consistent with their chosen devices. In addition to the iPhone, BBVA Compass provides mobile banking apps for iPhone and iPad mobile digital devices, BlackBerry devices and the Android mobile digital platform, and soon will be updating those to add bilingual capabilities.

“We already operate as a fully bilingual bank in the U.S., and these additions will support that commitment,” Carriles said.

The latest iPhone app offers access to such mobile banking features as bill pay, account transfers, balance review, an enhanced branch locator and improved views of paid checks with zoom capabilities. This new version also introduces a full feature Bill Pay service by allowing customers not only to issue payments, but also to add payees, manage payment source accounts, display past payments, and display or cancel pending payments.

To download the free BBVA Compass app, visit the iPhone app store and search for BBVA Compass.

For more information on additional BBVA Compass mobile banking applications, visit www.bbvacompass.com/go/mobile.

Mobile payments - AZ Business Magazine March/April 2012

Mobile Payments – The Pay Of The Future

They’re not here yet, but expect mobile payments to change the way we pay

If your wallet feels thinner in the upcoming months, blame your cell phone, not the down economy. Mobile payments, also called mobile money and mobile wallet, are the future of commerce. If they haven’t already, mobile payments will soon revolutionize the way you receive, spend and monitor your money — no plastic required.

Instead of swiping a conventional debit or credit card when you’re at the grocery store or out to dinner, mobile payments digitize the process. Simply open your smartphone’s finance application and tap your cellphone on the checkout counter’s PayPass terminal.

Voilà, the transaction is complete.

Your cell phone, operating a technology called Near Field Communication, uses a semiconductor chip housed in your smartphone to transfer the payment from a pre-paid or credit card account with the application. Though not many existing smartphones possess NFC technology, few released in 2012 won’t have it.

LG, Panasonic, Microsoft, and Toshiba say they plan to incorporate the technology in their phones soon. Motorola, Samsung, Nokia, BlackBerry and Android released smartphone models with NFC chips in 2011, but most don’t yet have compatible applications on which to perform mobile payments.

Google Wallet, the first major NFC-enabled mobile payments application in America, is only operational on Sprint’s Nexus S 4G (also created by Google), using Citi Mastercard. Naturally, Google plans to support more payment and phone types in the future.

Tailing by a hair, Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T plan to launch ISIS — a similar mobile payments system — later this year.

Alas, though the future feels so close, your reimbursing cell might still take a few years, according to a study released by Gartner in July.

Gartner estimates that 50 percent of smart phones will be NFC-enabled by 2015.

“We believe mass market adoption of NFC mobile payments is at least four years away,” says Sandy Shen, research director at Gartner. “The biggest hurdle is the need to change user behavior by convincing consumers to pay with mobile phones instead of cash and cards.”

So, though financial institutions and software providers race to offer NFC, most customers are too accustomed to contemporary payment forms, Gartner speculates. A main motive for consumer hesitation is financial security.

David Peterson, founder of electronic payment software provider Goldleaf, says that fortified firewalls and other electronic gatekeepers make mobile payments quite trustworthy.

“NFC works only for a very small distance, say a few inches,” Peterson says. “By narrowing the field in which NFC works, it enables individual transactions with more accuracy and privacy.

“And, if I lose my phone, I can go to my computer and kill it, remotely,” he says. “I don’t care where it is or who’s got it – I can wipe out anything.”

Despite protective measures to stop fraud from occurring, what if the inevitable happens? Should a customer dispute a mobile transaction, unfortunately, there are only limited regulations regarding liability … for now.

Depending on which application is used and who the provider is, customers have different levels of protection.

“People need to be smart, because there’s not been a new prudent body of law saying banks or apps have to offer specific protection,” Peterson says. “If a customer has issues with stuff going on with a bank’s mobile payments application, then there are not any separate regulations that covers them than if they were online, or frankly, in the bank’s lobby … But any time a purchase is made bypassing the bank with a service provider, consumers and businesses should assume that there is not much protection of liability.”

For banks, customer liability isn’t the biggest problem. It’s staying modern.

Companies who have successfully created NFC mobile money applications, like Google Wallet, will determine banks’ and financial software companies’ relevance in the increasingly pertinent world of smartphones.

Eric Haler, retailer market manager at Bank of Arizona, says that after Bank of Arizona developed its iPhone, Android and iPad mobile banking applications last year, they quickly became indispensable.

“It’s definitely been good for business, and is certainly something clients like to have,” Haler says. “Now, for customers, it’s an expectation instead of a luxury.”

However, like most mobile money applications, Bank of Arizona’s does not yet use NFC technology, and customers’ smartphones cannot be used in lieu of a credit card.

“I haven’t heard of anyone leaving their bank over that or even really needing that feature, but obviously a lot of people are using it and it’s growing so it’ll be important to see that we keep up,” Haler says.

Keeping up, however, is an enormous undertaking. In today’s world of fleeting modernity and ever-evolving technological horizons, it can be hard to know in which direction to shoot.

Some companies, skeptical of NFC’s practicality, are skipping NFC entirely. Instead of following the latest trend, their finances operate with cloud computing.

Scottsdale-based Apriva LLC, a mobile payments processing and security service provider founded in 1987, says it looks ahead of NFC for the future of mobile commerce.

“Many people believe it’s going to grow rapidly over the next 50 years and become an important page in technology’s history. But today, it’s a just fraction of the market,” says Paul Coppinger, Apriva’s president. “Yes, our applications work with NFC, but the deeper end is they don’t have to use NFC. We’re independent of that fact, because our wallet isn’t built into the point of sale or phone, it’s in the cloud.”

Cloud computing, a wireless system of sharing via servers and the internet, doesn’t require additional hardware.

“With NFC, if you want advanced mobile payments capabilities, you have to get a special phone with NFC in it and merchants need to use it, too,” Coppinger says. “When you take all those special things and net them together… it’s impractical.”

Whether NFC is fleeting or conducts your finances forever, mobile, contactless payments are imminent.

Arizona Business Magazine March/April 2012

Mobile Banking - AZ Business Magazine January/February 2012

Mobile Banking Causes Security Concerns

Use of phone apps skyrockets 45 percent in six-month span, but how safe are they?

The smart phone is becoming to banking what the knife has become to bread: It’s changing the way we consume.

Mobile Banking - AZ Business Magazine January/February 2012

“Mobile banking has had the biggest impact on financial institutions since the introduction of ATMs,” says Paul Stull, senior vice president of strategy and brand at Arizona State Credit Union, the first credit union to introduce mobile banking in Arizona.”The convenience of being able to use a mobile device to manage funds, track balances and pay bills is a huge advancement in convenience and time savings for consumers.”

According to comScore, a leader in measuring the impact of the digital world, the number of people using mobile banking applications on their smart phones jumped an astounding 45 percent from December 2010 to June 2011. Nearly 14 percent of the total U.S. mobile audience accessed mobile banking services in June 2011, an increase of 21 percent from the fourth quarter of 2010.

Mobile Banking - AZ Business Magazine January/February 2012

“New functionality, such as person-to-person payments and mobile check deposits, continue to gain traction, accelerating user adoption,” says Dan Stewart, president for Mutual of Omaha Bank in Arizona. “Banks that ignore the trend will find themselves missing what is fast becoming a standard bank offering.”

Not many banks are ignoring the trend. In a recent survey of the top 25 financial institutions in the United States, Javelin Strategy & Research found that 23 of those 25 institutions offer some sort of mobile-banking service SMS/text, downloadable applications, WAP/browser, or a combination of all three, known as a “triple play”. Thats an improvement from 2009, says Mary Monahan, research director at Javelin, when less than 50 percent of the same banking institutions played active roles in mobile space.

“Mobile banking is a must-have now,” says Monahan.

Wells Fargo is one of the institutions that blazed the mobile-banking trail and offers the triple play.

Mobile Banking - AZ Business Magazine January/February 2012“Wells Fargo launched its mobile channel in 2007 by listening to our customers,” says Brian Pearce, senior vice president and head of the Retail Mobile Channel at Wells Fargo’s Internet Services Group. “They told us that they wanted easy and convenient access to their balances, transfer capabilities and the ability to pay a bill while on the go. They also told us that they wanted to be able to access their information regardless of their phone model and carrier plan. To meet these needs, we offer a triple play mobile web, Apps for Android, iPhone, Blackberry and Palm, and text banking.”

And Wells Fargo continues to improve the ease of use and is adding new bells and whistles to make banking easier.

“We’ve just recently enhanced the design of our mobile experience with a simplified navigation and streamlined screen designs,” Pearce says. “We also added a GPS feature for our wf.com ATM locator and new commands and enrollment options for our text banking application.”

Banks are finding that mobile banking is good for the bottom line.

Mobile Banking - AZ Business Magazine January/February 2012“Mobile banking adds to customer acquisition and retention, reduces call volume to the call center, and takes the convenience of Web banking one step further,” says Craig Doyle, Arizona market president of Comerica Bank, which has launched mobile banking apps for the iPhone, BlackBerry and Android. “This technology also forces the industry to focus more on the customer and carefully evaluate what products and services we can offer to better serve them.”

While smart phone users are the biggest users of mobile banking, the exploding popularity of mobile tablets like the iPad is expected to alter the mobile banking landscape even further, experts say.

“The tablet is going to be a game changer,” Monahan says. “Banks have to be ready.”

Apps for tablets will require some thought, since consumers spend more time browsing on mobile tablets than they do on mobile phones, Monahan says. “Banks will have to have deeper dives, and its going to be key for banks to have a tablet-specific app.”

Even as the use of mobile banking skyrockets, there is one issue that is keeping it from reaching a fever pitch.

“The main reason consumers dont move to mobile banking is because of security concerns,” Monahan says. “Consumers want to know that their mobile interactions and transactions are encrypted, and they want some assurance that they will be reimbursed for losses associated with a mobile-banking breach. Banks need to educate consumers about what they offer and how they are protecting the mobile channel.”

Educating consumers is something that Comerica said is vital to growing its mobile banking channel.

“Comerica always has security in mind and is constantly evaluating better ways to protect our customers,” Doyle says. “We encourage our customers to take the proper precautions to protect themselves. We feature information about good security practices on our Comerica.com website and our mobile banking microsite so our customers can be properly educated and protect themselves.”

To help ease its customers security concerns, Monahan says banks should at least do these three things:

Post mobile banking security guarantees on their websites. Guarantees should be prominent, on the homepage, so consumers can quickly find them.

Banking institutions offering mobile banking through downloadable apps should have the ability to remotely deactivate apps that could be infected or contain malicious code.

Every institution should spearhead a strong consumer education campaign that educates consumers about safe mobile-banking practices, while also informing them about mobile offers and services provided by their banks or credit unions.

Arizonas banking leaders say those security concerns are not going unnoticed.

“All mobile technology used by Arizona State Credit Union complies with federal financial institution regulations requiring the use of multi-factor authentication technology,” Stull says. “In addition, the Credit Union will be adding new security improvements during 2012 that will use virtual intelligence to learn user behavior and detect variances in usage that may indicate unauthorized activity.”

Bankers point out that mobile banking can actually be a great tool to use to keep your money secure because you have 24-hour access to your financial information.

“We feel that the ‘anytime, anywhere’ nature of mobile banking gives customers a great tool to monitor their accounts and stay in control of their money,” Pearce says.

5 Ways To Protect Yourself

1. Set the phone to require a password to power on the handset or awake it from sleep mode.

2. Whether you’re using the mobile Web or a mobile client, don’t let it automatically log you in to your bank account. Otherwise, if your phone is lost or stolen, someone will have free access to your money.

3. Avoid sharing your password, account number, PIN, answers to secret questions or other such information. Don’t save this information anywhere on your handset.

4. Immediately tell your bank or mobile operator if you lose your phone.

5. Review account statements. If you do notice any unusual transactions, call your bank immediately and dispute the transactions.

For more information on mobile banking and ways to protect yourself visit the Wells Fargo website at wellsfargo.com.

AZ Business Magazine January/February 2012