Posted onin Leadership/Management
In today’s world of mobile technology, where you can do everything from unlock your car door to tracking the real-time location of your children from your mobile device, it’s not unreasonable for consumers to expect their phones to help manage most aspects of their lives. Managing their money is no exception. As a busy father of twin daughters, I understand and appreciate the importance of having anytime, anywhere access to money. As a CIO in the financial services industry, I have the challenge of helping to make that a reality.
Wells Fargo recently launched a new venture to create a universal money movement capability that allows consumers to move money to another person using only a mobile phone number or email address. Bringing this kind of breakthrough technology to market requires a clear vision and goal; otherwise things can easily go awry.
But how do you crystallize the vision for a project of this size and significance, not to mention the fact that you must partner with two other major financial institutions and meet strict regulatory standards? The answer lies with the customer, the only person whose opinion truly matters at the end of the day.
The first steps is always to talk to your customers – as with any business initiative – to find out whether they want or need such a service, and if so, what do they want out of it. By way of this new venture, Wells Fargo and its partners Bank of America and J.P. Morgan Chase learned that customers want:
- a service where there is no need to maintain separate accounts like non-bank services require;
- an easy enrollment process to pay or get paid;
- payments delivered quickly and directly deposited into their bank accounts rather than being credited to a non-bank account and receiving a physical check or cash; and
- money directly deposited into their bank account without having to share their account number with someone else.
From a consumer perspective, this is a reasonable list of expectations. But behind the scenes, we are talking about the potential for a lot of money movement, so we had to get it right.
One tool we use is an incubator, which is not so uncommon in other industries, but in financial services it is somewhat unique. The incubator is a set of virtual environments designed to test new concepts. Internal experiments are best for internal technical testing, business proof of concept and tech proof of technology. Customer facing experiments are best for external technical testing and testing potential costly capabilities.
The incubator helps us answer questions like: Is the solution we’re choosing right for our customers? How will this service generate revenue and how much? We periodically adjust both our project milestones and scope based on testing and learning, customer feedback, regulatory requirements and the marketplace.
Establishing an incubator may seem far-fetched to cash strapped resource tight companies, but it’s essential to determine efficacy of a concept, product or technology prior to committing to a complete rollout. We test proof of concepts/new technology innovations in order to gather learnings, make a go/no go decision, and gather customer feedback. Coincidentally, one of the graduates from our incubator and Labs was mobile banking.
Now that you are armed with a lucid vision of what your customer wants and how you’re going to provide it, you need to test the heck of out it. Test and test again to make sure the products you are developing are providing customers with a compelling experience that aligns with their expectations.
In the case of the new Wells Fargo, Bank of America and J.P. Morgan Chase venture called clearXchange, like I said, we’re talking about the potential for a lot of money movement. While the solution itself may be cutting edge, the technology powering it has been tried and tested extensively. As we rollout this service, we will continue to be guided by our vision: to provide convenient and safe money transfer service for our customers.