Guillaume's blog

Thoughts on the future of money

Posts from the “online banking” Category

The future of the BofA iPhone app: besides better iPhone support, personalization?

Posted on August 19th, 2008

I recently went through the 350 or so reviews of the BofA iPhone app. Here are my conclusions. First of all, BofA should have called this app “ATM locator” instead of “Mobile Banking”, as the ATM locator capability is praised by most as a way to save on fees when traveling out-of-town or when in unfamiliar neighborhood, but the overwhelming majority comment on the fact that the application provides a very poor mobile banking experience on the iPhone. What is meant by iPhone-specific experience? iPhone-specific experience is the single most requested feature. I’m careful not to talk about implementation details here (native app versus iPhone-optimized Web app) as I still don’t have a strong opinion about which approach would ultimately bring the best user…

A bank’s payment strategy in 3 words: Convenience, Convenience, Convenience

Posted on July 29th, 2008

The Bankwatch had an interesting post titled Payments – the impossible dream for Banks? this week outlining the importance of payments for banks and the challenges they face in bringing about innovative and user-friendly payment solutions. Colin’s line of thought is that: Banking has moved to self service Self-service allows two types of financial activity … view balances, or move money. Moving money is payments. Payments, as currently offered by banks, are mostly hell and they cry out for innovation Payments innovation is not about technology or standards (SEPA), but about customer experience I cannot but connect this “hell” experience with one of the most interesting questions raised during the Mobile Web Wars conference last week: Why  people are willing to pay for apps…

Les banques devrait-elles devenir des fournisseurs d’OpenID?

Posted on June 22nd, 2008

This is a translation in French of an earlier post. Il y a presque dix ans, au sommet du boom Internet, je me rappelle avoir avoir discuté avec un banquier qui me suggérait que dans le future, le rôle des banques ne se limiterait pas a garder l’argent de leur dépositaires, mais aussi à garder leur identité en ligne secrète. D’une certaine manière, cette prediction s’est concrétisée par le biais des programmes de protection contre le vol d’identité. Cela dit, si l’on définit l’identité comme la somme des informations personnelles qui distingue une personne d’une autre et qu’il est difficile voire impossible de se procurer, on voit bien qu’une grand partie de ces informations (et en particulier les secrets tels les mots de passe)…

What the IT at Google Bank would look like

Posted on May 30th, 2008

As I was watching the Google I/O keynote presentation, I thought about how all the development tools provided by Google (Google Gears, GData, OpenSocial, etc.) could be put to work to create a Google-powered Bank, and what the IT architecture of this Google Bank would look like. Here is how I think it could look like: All user interaction devices, whether it is a teller workstation, mobile phone, ATM machine, kiosk would provide access to the bank via any of the standard Web browsers (Opera, IE, Firefox, Safari). If access to device-specific functionality is required, it would be done by Google Gears (say for instance, that I want to access the ATM’s cash dispensing functionality, or I want to access the mobile phone’s built-in…

Should banks bank on OpenID?

Posted on May 21st, 2008

Almost a decade ago, at the height of the Internet boom, I remember talking to a banker telling me that in the future, banks would not just keep your money safe, but also your identity. To some extent, this has materialized with identity protection programs offering insurance against the risk of identity theft. That said, if you view the identity as the collection of hard- or impossible-to-obtain information about a person that uniquely distinguishes her from others, you would certainly admit that a big part of this information (in particular secrets such as passwords) are spread around in a variety of online services (60 on average, growing to 200 according to a Yankee report on OpenID). OpenID, as everyone knows, is the open solution…

The problem with banking innovation and how to fix it.

Posted on May 19th, 2008

Allen Weinberg has a great report on the first day at Payments 2008 that confirms some of the thoughts I’ve had in the past few weeks: that non-banks are becoming the primary source of banking innovation, threatening to relegate banks to mere accountants. Allen cites the difficulty for banks to hire innovative employees because their lack of coolness, and I partly agree, but I think that is a bit too imprecise. It’s a bit like saying “We failed b/c we are were not lucky”. I think smart innovative employees go to companies that have an innovative management environment and culture, and there are very practical ways to create such an environment and culture, if the top management wants to. To me such a culture… a perfect banking use case for OAuth

Posted on May 13th, 2008 provides a free service, which is able with your authorization, to connect to your bank(s), retrieve your bank account information and all your transactions and provide value-add services with the data. In particular, it allows you to see where you money is spent and give you hints at how you could save money. I personally think it is a superbly designed UI to the user data held at banks, which shows how much value there is to unlock, and also how much startups can be so much more efficient at delivering innovating services than banks themselves sometimes. Yodlee, a partner of, was a dot com era example of this and might be their Web 2.0 equivalent. One problem is: requires you to provide your…

Bank of America Online Banking’s user-friendly password strength indicator

Posted on May 13th, 2008

Like many Web services, Bank of America Online Banking provides you with real-time feedback about the strength of your password when changing your password. What’s great with their implementation is that it does it via a thumb up indicator for each security rule your password must comply with that gets updated as the user fills out the password. This technique is the best I’ve seen so far at guiding the user into providing a secure password into a short amount of time, thus improving an experience that is generally frustrating given the generally low perceived value by users of these increasing security requirements (just like with anything security-related, users don’t value it until something bad happens to them). This is a nice evolution from indicators that merely…