Over two weeks ago, our firm offered perspective on some things banks and credit unions can do to proactively support accountholders during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, we have maintained ongoing contact with our more than 1,000 clients as this situation continues to evolve. Additionally, we surveyed our industry network of clients and friends to help us understand how the virus is impacting their financial institution’s operations – and they delivered.
Business Process Improvements
Being prepared for any potential downside is something bank and credit union executives take quite seriously and, since the early 2000s, have been required by regulators to maintain a pandemic crisis plan. Now all of these plans are being put to the test, especially after the announcement by the WHO that the coronavirus is officially a pandemic.
Even as the business world improves at predicting and defending against risks, Black Swans will always be a possibility. As is characterized by such an event, it’s easy in hindsight to say, “We should have seen this coming,” but the fact remains that we don’t know what we don’t know; e.g., the impacts on the stock market and disruptions to daily life brought on by COVID-19.
Card Not Present,
Since 2009, interest in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies like it has mostly ebbed and flowed with the volatility of the associated exchange rates. In fact, one could argue that the attention paid to cryptocurrencies has primarily been about speculative investment rather than any real belief that about them replacing traditional currencies.
The newly announced agreement between Visa and Coinbase may change that area of focus. In December, Visa granted “principal membership” in its network to Coinbase, the first time a cryptocurrency exchange has attained the status. Among other things, this will enable Coinbase to issue Visa-branded debit cards (although not in the United States for the foreseeable future). However, while the near-term impact on U.S. banks and credit unions remains to be seen, it sends a strong signal about the direction of the winds for which institutions should be prepared.
A colleague of mine once said, “God was able to create Heaven and Earth in six days because He did not have an installed base of users.” Anyone who has spent any time in the software business understands this axiom all too well.
This is essentially the premise behind technical debt. As soon as your institution commits to a solution and begins adding customers or members to it, constraints emerge making it difficult to enhance or upgrade the technology.
Disruptive tech providers, new banking regulations, obscure deadlines and thresholds – these are challenges we face with clients every day. What many others still fail to see though, is that in an age of accelerating change, having a clear vendor negotiation strategy - and executing it well - is becoming more critical to bank and credit union executives than ever before.
To help spare others from costly lessons learned, here is a list of our best and most often given advice for preparing for a negotiation - or renegotiation. With our experts’ combined experience in the field, and $2.4 billion proof points behind us, these are SRM’s eight rules of engagement for effective vendor management.
Vendor Contract Management,
Vendor Negotiation Strategy
January’s release of the 2019 Payments Study from the Federal Reserve reveals that American purchasing behavior is evolving at full force, especially in debit and credit card use. Every three years, the Fed releases a comprehensive study on usage trends for noncash payment instruments. This most recent data shows the persistence of several longstanding trends – and some are gaining speed.
Debit and Credit,
One year ago, almost to the day, Fiserv surprised the payments world by announcing its acquisition of First Data, setting off a wave of payments consolidation that by midyear had narrowed a list of six leading processors and bank service providers down to three. Following this flurry of activity, it was widely assumed that FIS, Global Payments and Fiserv would be occupied with integration tasks for the foreseeable future, potentially leaving payments M&A destined for a short breather. But wait – there’s more.
Each year, SRM interviews a subset of bank and credit union clients to get their perspective on key industry trends rising to the top of their strategic to-do lists. With another decade having drawn to a close, January 2020 serves as a nice vantage point to take things in through a wider lens.
Protecting Share, or Poking the Bear?
I asked a good friend of our firm, Ginger Schmeltzer, owner and principal of GDS Advisors, to comment on the recent announcement that PNC was blocking its customers from using their accounts to fund Venmo transactions. Ginger’s take echoed a number of comments made around the industry concerning the news.
One of the hottest topics in banking – for financial institutions as well as third-party providers – is data sharing. Banks and credit unions possess terabytes of such information; many organizations that are not financial institutions covet access to this data to increase the value they bring to consumers. This value could manifest in many ways, from a simpler customer experience to providing personalized offerings that anticipate the user’s need.