Dave Foss, DFoss@profitstars.com
Making a holiday wish list.
Bipartisan agreement on the two-year government spending plan might not have been on the top of your holiday wish list, but it certainly is something to be thankful for! As I’m writing this, it looks like Congress will give final approval to the plan (without any last minute defaults, or government shutdowns), and the Senate will pass it on to President Obama, who has signaled support. Discussions on the debt ceiling have begun and although conversations are heated, they are beginning early. Believe it or not, we seem to be on track to meet all of our deadlines. Peace may be a slight exaggeration, but these progressive steps will undoubtedly increase stability and create at least a little good will for all bankers.
Janet Yellen being named chairman of the Federal Reserve appears to be another piece of good New Year news. Yellen is extremely well qualified to lead us, and has received an unprecedented amount of support from national and international sources. Upon the announcement, U.S. index futures climbed and Treasuries rose, perhaps a foreshadowing of the road ahead.
The Consumer Confidence Index and holiday spending metrics are down slightly from last year, showing room for improvement. However, the bank failures and the instability that we’ve experienced are coming to a trickle; only 24 banks failed in 2013, a mere fraction of years’ past. I expect financial stability and credibility to continue to improve among banks and credit unions in 2014. Our advancements in payments, mobile and efficiency solutions position the industry for great growth.
The payments field is exciting right now. The adoption curve has been strong for online bill pay, and commercial payment activity, among other things. Online bill pay adoption rates are more than double the industry average for our financial institutions that are encouraging the shift through marketing efforts, and there are many more consumers to win. Commercial payment activity in some institutions has increased by 40 percent year-over-year; the growth is attributed to outreach and the proactive offering of services like remote deposit capture (RDC). It has been 10 years since the introduction of RDC, and the service remains a catalyst for new client growth for those institutions with well-defined programs.
Mobile banking has married with payments and other self-service solutions to make great advances and position us well for 2014. Adding a full suite of self-service tools, such as aggregated personal financial management (PFM), RDC and bill pay makes for a much more attractive offering. Early adaptors have already seen consumers clamor for the services.
In addition to all of these attractive end-user solutions, vendors like us maintain a laser-like focus on continuing to improve the efficiency of banking processes. Payments dashboards, budgeting and financial reporting tools, cloud services, regulatory compliance and risk management solutions continue to advance in an attempt to make you more productive and efficient. I am proud to be a part of these processes that lessen the burdens on employees, improve performance and give our clients the time and resources to be more innovative and focused on service.
There are still some things on my wish list, of course. For one, it would be wonderful to have a consensus on defining “big data.” Everyone is talking about it but no two people seem to have the same definition for what “it” is. Once we achieve an industry understanding, we can harness more of the powerful data that is within the (virtual) walls of every financial institution. What’s on your wish list for the New Year?
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