Market Spotlight: Financial Services

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With worldwide pressure mounting to prevent client information from falling into the wrong hands, the financial services market has always been at the forefront of speech  technology adoption, especially voice biometrics. It’s also a leader in the adoption of IP-based contact center technologies, according to recent research from Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories.

Genesys’ research indicates that roughly one-third of all financial services companies are currently using an IP-based contact center, and almost half are likely to implement one in the next two to three years, enabling them to integrate multiple channels of customer contact.
Of those channels, now is the right time for financial services firms to move some services, such as banking, money transfers, and online payments, to mobile handsets, concludes IMS Research in a new report.

Improved coverage, greater uptake of features on phones, higher mobile penetration, and better service availability have all contributed to this. As much as anything, greater demand from consumers, operators, and financial stakeholders has caused the number of application developers and platform providers to multiply in recent years.

"There has been a marked increase in the level of activity of key players in the market, from both the mobile and the financial companies, in the past 12 months," concluded John Devlin, lead analyst at IMS Research, in the report. "In regions such as North America, Japan, and South Korea, strong partnerships are being formed between mobile operators and banks."

Among them, Visa in late September announced plans to make mobile payment-related services broadly available to Chase Visa cardholders in the United States via Google’s Android platform by the end of the year. The first of these services will allow cardholders to receive notifications to their mobile devices about transaction activity on their accounts, obtain offers from merchants, locate nearby ATMs that accept Visa cards, and find  merchants that redeem Visa offers. Visa is also developing a payment application that will enable account holders to make mobile payments in retail locations nationwide or over wireless networks.

"By developing these mobile services for the Android platform, Visa has taken a major step toward achieving our goal of combining two of the world’s most powerful and ubiquitous consumer innovations—electronic payments and mobile technology," said Elizabeth Buse, global head of product at Visa, in a statement.

Mobile carriers are also expanding their footprints in the financial services realm. Sprint, for example, recently launched MyMoneyManager, a mobile banking application that lets users access bank accounts, check balances, pay bills, locate branches and ATMs, and send payments to friends and family from their Web-enabled Sprint phones. Participating financial institutions are BB&T, Citibank, IBC Bank, PNC Bank, and PayPal.  

IMS predicts that the number of cellular users will grow by 32 percent during the next four years, while the number of active users of mobile banking and payment services will grow by 662 percent during the same time frame. This is not to say that making money mobile will not be without barriers. The biggest concern, particularly in more mature markets, will be convincing users that their mobile devices are secure access points.

"This will initially affect user behavior and the type of financial services that they utilize on their mobile phones," Devlin concluded.

In response to security concerns, users will likely test the waters with quick, low-risk uses, such as checking account balances and adding money to prepaid cards.

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