BRAND NEW! Check out these nine webinars featured by The Financial Brand   VIEW WEBINARS
MARQUIS | TriggerPro

10 Ways iBeacon Can Improve Banking Sales & Service

At a time when banks and credit unions are trying to improve the economics of branch banking, iBeacon could deliver a personalized digital sales experience as soon as the customer enters a branch office.

By Jim Marous

iBeacon, working in conjunction with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), can integrate the physical and mobile channels, enabling a bank’s mobile app to deliver highly tailored digital promotions, coupons or offers directly to the consumer’s smartphone when the customer is in the general vicinity of an office, at any specific location within an office or at an ATM.

There are already more than 200 million iBeacons in the form of phones in our pockets. Google has included BLE into the Android 4.3 and other recent phones. Apple has been including BLE in their devices since the iPhone 4, meaning that every iPhone from the past two years is an iBeacon in itself. More importantly, standalone low cost iBeacons ($40 – $100 each) can be placed in physical branch locations, linking the bank branch with consumers’ smartphones.

Subscribe TodayiBeacon technology is designed to deliver continuous content based on the precise location of a customer within a branch, allowing for highly relevant messaging or special offers on products to be sent to smartphone users at the exact time and place they are most useful. This immediacy is a big advantage over other technology like NFC or QR codes that are either less accurate or require additional steps by the customer.

In order for iBeacon to work in banking, customers must first install the mobile app of the bank they are visiting and opt-in for personalized promotional alerts. By providing the bank access, the bank could track activities performed both online and in the branch in the past to customize both mobile and in-person communication the moment they step inside the branch.

Consumer Acceptance of In-Store Alerts

While there is virtually no research on the acceptance of in-store alerts by financial institutions due to the current lack of use by banks, there is positive response from consumers when in-store alerts are used by retailers. According to a study of 1,000 smartphone users commissioned by Swirl, 67 percent of consumers reported having received shopping-related push notifications on their smartphones during the previous six months. Of those, 81percent said they read or opened these alerts most of the time, and 79 percent made a purchase as a result.

Alert Acceptance

The research also found that the alerts delivered must be both relevant and valuable from the customer’s perspective. When asked what caused them to ignore mobile push notifications;

  • 41 percent said they were not relevant to their interests or location
  • 37 percent stated the offers did not provide enough value
  • 16 percent fount the alerts to be annoying
  • 6 percent did not opt-in to receive the notifications

It is clear that the lessons learned in the retail world apply also to the world of banking. While iBeacon technology can provide the power to deliver highly relevant digital content and offers personalized to the customers’ location and banking relationship, the use of these alerts must be used judiciously.

In both retail and banking, privacy remains an ongoing concern for consumers, especially when disclosing their smartphone’s location. The good news is that 77 percent of consumers said they would be willing to share their location information, as long as they received enough value in return. An opt-in process helps to establish this trust and consent.

Kiosk & Display | Digital Signage & Interactive Kiosks

iBeacon Banking Applications

Announced in February 2014, Australian bank Westpac is planning to trial the technology in selected branches over the coming months. iBeacon will work with both iPhone and Android devices and will be used to send customers special offers and other incentives on their device when they are in a branch or walking past the office. It’ll also give bank staff full details of a customer’s business with Westpac when they enter a branch.

It’ll be an opt-in service, fully integrated into Westpac’s mobile app.

Some potential ways banks and credit unions could leverage the potential of iBeacon technology include:

  1. Welcome Communication: As customers pass or enter a branch, the bank can deliver a welcome message to the customer and a summary of services available at the branch. This could include a personalized map of the office and the available specialists currently at the office. Any special offers can also be highlighted.
  2. Customer Recognition: When a customer enters a branch, branch personnel can be alerted and can be provided transaction history and sales prompts for interacting with the customer based on their value. This enhanced recognition can improve service and loyalty.
  3. Availability and Wait Times: Much like at an Apple store, a customer could be provided the wait times for specific services/specialists as well as a way to set an appointment using their smartphone app.
  4. Personalized Product Offers: Offers based on previous customer activity, account ownership and even demographics and credit score can be sent to the customer’s smartphone upon entering the branch. This could allow for dynamic pricing of services or rewards offers based on the customer’s current relationship or relationship potential.
  5. Location Specific Offers: If a customer is standing at a deposit slip counter, they could receive a notification (along with introductory video) related to remote deposit capture services.
  6. Customer Education: When a customer is waiting for a teller or platform officer, highly relevant short form educational videos can be delivered to the customer’s smartphone for viewing. These could include direct links to already partially completed application/authorization forms.
  7. Surveying: iBeacon can provide a way to solicit customer opinions and service ratings when the customer visits or leaves the branch.
  8. Branch Analytics: With iBeacon, banks will be able to understand which customers are using branches, what are the busiest days and times, how long on average are customers spending in branches and what type of transactions customers are completing. This data can assist in optimizing the branch experience for customers in the future. This data can also assist in cross-channel attribution tracking.
  9. Beacon Enabled ATMs: For customers who have authorized communication via their mobile device, personalized offers can be delivered to the phone after an ATM visit based on the customer’s relationship. This technology could also potentially replace the need to use a card to access the ATM.
  10. Post Visit Retargeting: The ability to communicate with the customer via mobile, online, phone, etc. after a branch or ATM visit is possible applying the learnings collected during the visit.

Financial institution marketers should be excited about the opportunity to target customers as they walk past or enter a branch or use an ATM. It remains to be seen, however, how consumers will react to the growing number of retailers and other organization that track customer locations and push out offers.

Privacy advocates have already raised concerns about the use of iBeacon to deliver messages and offers. Until privacy laws and guidelines are updated to account for advances in technology like iBeacon, the onus will be on the bank or credit union to implement clear opt-in processes and focus on delivering value to customers as opposed to simply pushing out a series of offers.

The good news for banks is that locational alerts could turbocharge the activation and utilization of bank and credit union mobile apps. In retail, 80 percent of consumers surveyed said that they would use their mobile app more often if the apps delivered sales and promotion alerts. This can support the goal of transforming current mobile banking apps into indispensable financial applications that can deliver relevant and timely digital content.


Jim MarousJim Marous is co-publisher of The Financial Brand and publisher of the Digital Banking Report, a subscription-based publication that provides deep insights into the digitization of banking, with over 150 reports in the digital archive available to subscribers. You can follow Jim on Twitter and LinkedIn, or visit his professional website.

Search For More: Branch Strategies, Most Popular, ,

All content © 2016 by The Financial Brand and may not be reproduced by any means without permission.

Digital Banking Report | Save $500

Comments

  1. Jim,
    Our solution uses the strategy of opting in the FI customers to recieve mobile ready offers from the top 1100 National retailers and 1000’s of local but we present the FI within the app as one of the Merchants that will present offers based on location or beacon ID. So the customer really is opting into a mobile shopping APP with the Bank or credit Union branding and offers at the center of experience.

  2. I think those swirl statistics are biased and don’t reflect the general population. I also don’t think they imply the messages had anything to do with proximity – more likely a shopping app pushing a daily offer. BLE is no more accurate than NFC or QR?…range is the benefit here. Banks already have good customer tracking because everyone who goes in there makes a transaction, unlike a retail store. Flow inside the branch isn’t that important – everyone is going to a teller or waiting for an appointment. I don’t know if these use cases are strong enough to get buy in – I can think of some better ones for a bank.

  3. Great post Jim. Thanks for sharing. Its really great to see that banks too have started leveraging iBeacon technology to enhance engagement, adoption and monetization opportunities. And this is indeed a great step forward by Westpac Bank. I’m sure it will help them transform their mobile banking app into an indispensable financial application by delivering relevant and timely digital content. In fact, late 2014, U.S. Bank, along with mobile capture software company Mitek, predicted that banks and financial institutions will see beacon usage take off in 2015. Another important thing to note here is that, while beacons are popularly known for their capabilities at delivering proximity marketing message, there is more to them. For example, Barclays bank of recent used beacons to streamline and personalize bank visits for consumers with disabilities. We’ve discussed in detail on how beacons can help banks surge monetization opportunities here:
    http://blog.mobstac.com/2015/03/why-banks-are-betting-big-on-beacons/

Speak Your Mind

*

Read more:
The Key to Omni-Channel Account Opening
Close