Report: Cyberattacks cost financial firms $4.7M on average last year

About 70% of financial services firms have faced a cyberattack over the past year, as remote work and COVID-19 led to increased activity and weaker endpoints, according toresearch conducted by the Ponemon Institute and sponsored by Keeper Security. The report was based on a survey of 2,215 IT and IT security professionals in the U.S., U.K., DACH, Benelux, Scandinavia, Australia and New Zealand.

The attacks have cost financial institutions an average of $4.7 million, about 75% more than the similar costs for other organizations, according to the report. The attacks range from credential theft and general malware to account takeover.

Many teleworkers exposed their companies to external attacks, using poorly secured laptops, mobile phones and other devices when they went remote, according to the report. Only 60% of financial services organizations have policies in place to regulate the security of remote employees.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, financial services firms have become massive targets for criminal cyberattacks and nation-state activity due to the changing nature of accessing funds or working in remote digital environments. It opened up more vulnerable endpoints for attack.

The switch to remote work led to a 20% increase in actual attacks and a massive 500% increase in attempted attacks, according to Darren Guccione, CEO of Keeper Security.

“The word I would use in terms of what COVID brought to the table, I would just say it was catalytic in nature,” he said in a Zoom interview. “The cybercriminals always knew that, wow, every single endpoint of an organization represents the potential vulnerability and access point for us to attack.”

The report shows financial services companies had to make a number of drastic changes in how they configured and managed their respective workforces, as about 58% of their respective workforces had to change to remote work after the pandemic, compared with 22% of their employees before the pandemic. About 33% of employees at these organizations were also furloughed due to the pandemic.

The report shows 71% of respondents said remote work made their companies a risk of a data breach, while 57% said they are prime targets for a hacker wishing to exploit a vulnerability.

A widely used method of exploiting financial services organizations is account takeover, Guccione said. This would involve getting into a personal account, taking over the username and password and withdrawing all the funds, or as an alternative take over a victim’s computer and demand a payment in bitcoin.

Another commonly seen attack involves the theft of trade secrets as part of an industrial espionage campaign.

About 31% of respondents said their organizations do not require remote employees to authenticate their identity during work. Meanwhile, of the 69% that said authentication is required, only 35% said multifactor authentication is required.

This research echoes a rising concern by companies regarding the vulnerabilities of having more than half of the workforce working remotely. The need to maintain safety and maintain a productive workforce is running up against the need tosecure vulnerable endpoints and enforce existing security protocols.

Financial services firms are also dealing with other challenges, including how to securely store the data in a cloud environment that makes it accessible to remote workers, but remains closely protected.

This story was first published on Cybersecurity Dive.

Report: Loyalty customers spend more than twice as much on takeout meals

Diners who are members of loyalty programs spent more than twice as much on takeout in 2020 than those who are not part of a loyalty program, according to a report from Paytronix Systems, done in partnership with
Average monthly amounts for loyalty users ordering takeout at QSRs is $200 versus $104 for non-users while loyalty users spent $232 on takeout at sit-down restaurants versus $112 spent by non-users.

The spending disparity between loyalty members and non-members reflects why so many major brands, including Taco Bell, Wendy’s and White Castle, have added or enhanced their loyalty programs during the the pandemic.
One in three consumers say the availability of a loyalty program would make them more likely to choose one restaurant over another in the coming months, which suggests such programs will be not just be a consumer expectation, but also a key to restaurants’ recovery, according to the National Restaurant Association’s 2021 State of the Restaurant Industry report.

Twelve percent of quick-service operators have added a loyalty program since March 2020, a move that could recoup sales amid the industry’s economic disruption, according to NRA’s report.

Burger King is the most recent chain to test a new loyalty program, which enables members to earn 10 points for every $1 spent and leverages digital channels. Among those incentives is the ability to earn points for ordering delivery directly from or the BK app. McDonald’s is also testing its new MyMcDonald’s Rewards program, in which participants can earn points per dollars spent, and can also use cash and mobile order and pay to earn rewards.

Burger King, McDonald’s and Taco Bell are also testing new restaurant prototypes that allow customers to pick up mobile-order-ahead orders from a dedicated drive-thru lane, which appears to be a growing diner demand. Paytronix’s research found, for example, that 33% of restaurant customers would be more encouraged to spend more on food if they could pick up their orders at the drive-thru, while 35% said they would spend more if they could order via an app.

Appealing to takeout customers has become critical in the past year as dine-in capacities have been limited and off-premise business have grown significantly. The Paytronix report found that 63% of the $769 billion spent ordering food last year was eaten at home, and most takeout orders were facilitated by digital channels, with 89% of the $486 billion spent on food eaten at home ordered through a desktop website, mobile app or aggregator app.

The NPD Group data also revealed that restaurant digital orders increased by 145% in December compared to a year ago. One challenge for loyalty adoption, however, could be keeping those digital customers engaged once dine-in returns to full capacity. But Paytronix’s report indicates there are plenty of benefits for such a rewards program to extend beyond apps and websites.

The report shows the average sit-down restaurant customer who used rewards programs in 2020 spent $167 per month on food eaten on-site, or 92% more than dine-in customers who did not use a rewards program.

This story was first published on Restaurant Dive.

E-wallets guide for current and future trends

Although initially viewed mainly as an alternative to a credit or debit card for online or in-store purchases, e-wallets have now expanded out into many different areas ranging from loyalty programs to direct-carrier billing.

Download this white paper to learn more about e-wallets and how they have and will affect our lives.

A note from the editor

This isn’t an ending: it’s a whole new beginning.

We want to inform you that in two weeks, we will be relaunching Mobile Payments Today as Payments Dive. This will be our final newsletter from the Mobile Payments Today platform, but this ending will mark a new beginning for our daily coverage on all things related to the payments industry.

Beginning Monday, March 1, Payments Dive, a publication dedicated to serve leaders in the various facets of the payments industry, will be arriving in your inbox. This newsletter is designed with payments executives in mind, equipping you to navigate the regulatory, legal and technological challenges you face on a daily basis by way of original reporting, high-level interviews and trends analysis.

Additionally, if you know any other executives who will be interested in our coverage, please direct them to sign up at of the March 1st launch.

We’re looking forward to getting started, and I hope you will join us.

Andy Burt

Managing Editor

Payments Dive

Apple Pay to accept Bitcoin via BitPay cards

BitPay, a Bitcoin and cryptocurrency payment provider, announced that U.S. cardholders can add their BitPay Prepaid Mastercard to Apple Wallet, making it more convenient to purchase everyday items using the cryptocurrency payment service, according to a press release.

BitPay Prepaid Mastercard holders can use Apple Pay to make in-store, in-app and online transactions, per the release. The company also said it will begin supporting Google Pay and Samsung Pay later this quarter.
BitPay customers who haven’t received their plastic card can add their virtual card to their Apple Wallet through the BitPay Wallet app, the press release said.

Apple Pay is joining the list of financial service providers to embrace Bitcoin as a payment method. The recent news means that BitPay cardholders can use cryptocurrency as a standard payment method wherever Mastercard is accepted.

BitPay’s mobile wallet lets users convert cryptocurrencies into standard currencies and load them onto their Mastercard, the company said. The BitPay Wallet currently allows users to transact using Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ether, USDC, GUSD, PAX and BUSD, per the press release.

Last October, PayPal announced that account holders can not only buy, sell and hold cryptocurrency but also use digital coins as payment to the company’s network of merchants. And just last week, Mastercard said it will begin accepting select cryptocurrencies on its network in 2021.

Early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, consumer usage of mobile wallets lagged despite public health concerns and the need for speedy purchases. But as the pandemic continues, retailers and their partners have eyed mobile wallets as another way to engage with customers. Last year, David’s Bridal partnered with Popwallet to offer its customers perks like coupons, and Afterpay said it would allow users to pay in installments with Apple Pay and Google Pay. Taking a different approach, 7-Eleven introduced a mobile wallet in December that allows users to add cash at its brick-and-mortar locations.

“We have thousands of BitPay Wallet app customers using the BitPay Card who are always looking for new places and ways to spend their crypto,” said BitPay CEO Stephen Pair in a statement. “Adding Apple Pay and soon Google and Samsung Pay makes it easy and convenient to use the BitPay Card in more places from day-to-day items to luxury purchases.”

The Apple Wallet news follows BitPay’s application in December with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to become a national trust bank.

This story was first published on Retail Dive.

Fireblocks, First Digital launch digital wallet, infrastructure to connect with Facebook’s Diem network

Fireblocks and First Digital Asset Group are rolling out a secure wallet and infrastructure system for financial institutions to easily connect to the Facebook-backed Diem digital currency network, enabling clients to use the payment network for their customer enterprises, per the company’s press release.

Diem can be utilized for peer-to-peer as well as peer-to-merchant transactions. The partnership promises to lower overhead costs for financial service providers, merchants and customers.

As Facebook prepares to launch Diem, Fireblocks and First are working together to provide licensed providers the ability to launch services that support Diem.

“The main advantage here is first, you have the distribution engine of Facebook to get into the hands of billions of users. That’s more than any other system out there, including Paypal. The second thing is [Facebook] is really good at creating a fairly simple consumer experience for people. That promises to expose the technology to a whole new audience who might otherwise not have access or interest,” Michael Saulov, CEO of Fireblocks said in the release.

Diem can work with financial service providers such as banks, exchanges, PSPs and eWallets. This compatibility enables companies and merchants around the world to have access to a wide array of clients – with considerably less overhead, thereby creating the potential to sell more inventory at less cost.

“If a [scarf merchant] in Morocco decides to open a digital wallet and start selling scarves on their website, they can just accept whatever payment they want from wherever in the world … and those manufacturers can sell more products and distribute whatever they want. We’re not even thinking about the revolution that it would create,” Ran Goldi, CEO of First said in the release.

Any institution or fintech looking to utilize Diem will need to build and integrate the appropriate technology to accommodate the new payment system. Additionally, each organization will have to be qualified as Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASPs).

Fireblocks and First have been working together since before the inception of Diem, so it made sense for the two companies to cooperate on this venture. Their knowledge of one another’s frameworks removed potential barriers and increased the ease with which Diem and its users can engage in the cutting-edge payments ecosystem.

First provides expertise in payments, liquidity and blockchain, while Fireblocks provides security technology, infrastructure and a MPC-based wallet.

As for the future, the partnership between Diem, Fireblocks and First promises to enhance current financial systems and increase its impact and relevance.

“A lot of people in the current system think that people who bring digital currencies are here to replace [them], but I think the technologies we’re looking at are just a natural evolution of money,” Goldi said.

“Gold is being stored in the Federal Reserve, money is being stored in safes, but [Fireblocks’] technology helps them store that in a cloud with one tenth of the cost … Our technology is here to help them get to more merchants. We’re not here to replace anyone,” he said.

Shopify adds Shop Pay to Facebook, Instagram

As social commerce accelerates, Shopify is integrating Shop Pay into Instagram and Facebook, the e-commerce platform announced. The move allows consumers to pay Shopify merchants using Shop Pay on those platforms.

Shop Pay automatically fills in consumers’ details and allows them to pay without leaving Facebook or Instagram, the company said. Users will also be able to track orders after purchase and see carbon emissions offsets from their purchases, among other things.

Shop Pay facilitated more than 137 million orders in 2020 and almost $20 billion in gross merchandise value since it launched in 2017. Brands like Allbirds, Kith, Beyond Yoga, Blueland and Jonathan Adler use Shop Pay, per the announcement.

Dive Insight:
One of the pain points with shopping on social media platforms has been the experience of actually buying products, which can often be a clunky process or lead consumers out of the app. Shopify is looking to improve that experience for its merchants by offering consumers an in-app purchasing method that it claims is 70% faster than other checkout systems.

According to Shopify, Shop Pay has a 1.72 times higher conversion rate, leading to fewer abandoned carts for merchants. The platform also lets customers track their purchases, receive updates and oversee their orders, the company said.

The collaboration between Shopify, Instagram and Facebook comes as brands increasingly tap into shoppable content to drive sales. The Interactive Advertising Bureau estimated that 40% of marketers would use shoppable video ads in 2020, an increase from 33% in 2019 and 25% in 2018.

The demand for social shopping has pushed platforms to enhance their own capabilities. Last year, Instagram expanded its in-app shopping features after the initial launch in 2019, and in June, Sephora made its Instagram Checkout debut with Milk Makeup, Drunk Elephant and more than 80 other beauty brands. In October, Instagram also expanded its in-app shopping functionality to Reels and IGTV. The Interactive Advertising Bureau predicted that livestream-generated sales would grow to $120 billion last year.

“People are embracing social platforms not only for connection, but for commerce,” Carl Rivera, general manager of shop at Shopify, said in a press release. “Making Shop Pay available outside of Shopify for the first time means even more shoppers can use the fastest and best checkout on the Internet. And there’s more to come: we’ll continue to work with Facebook to bring a number of Shopify services and products to these platforms to make social selling so much better.”

This story was first published on Retail Dive.

Payments fintech Mesh raises capital to continue growth for SME market

Payments fintech Mesh raises capital to continue growth for SME market

Fintech startup company Mesh Payments has raised $13 million in a new round of financing. The funding round will go toward enhancing the company’s sales and marketing, as well as increase the number of partnerships with other management platforms.
Launched in September 2020, Mesh issues “highly controlled virtual cards” that can be utilized by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) for both online and offline payments – combining the growing usage of mobile wallets with a broad array of corporate payment plans and processes.
Since its launch, Mesh has had a 20-fold increase in paying customers.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and explosion in remote work, SMEs are facing a variety of new challenges, particularly in terms of corporate spending. Systems relying on corporate cards and outdated reimbursement policies are breaking down, slowing the speed at which organizations are able to make decisions.

Additionally, current systems lack visibility and oversight, which creates a dependence on physical cards that will negatively impact companies if those cards are lost, exploited or expire.

The newly launched Mesh Payments solves these problems by reimagining the role of payments within an organization’s corporate structure.

The startup embeds a cardless payments solution into existing organizational systems, which allows finance teams to maintain real-time visibility across IT, HR, Marketing and other departments. Additionally, Mesh gives customers the ability to automatically manage receipts and set policy limits. This streamlines payment activities so financial monitors can better manage their payments and ensure there’s never a disruption of services.

Oded Zehavi, CEO and Co-Founder of Mesh Payments said that Mesh recognizes the biggest obstacle facing SMEs is “a corporate payment problem and not a corporate card problem.”

The announcement follows a recent cardless payment rollout for companies which focuses on both recurring and one-time payments, reported. The solution equips companies with “complete visibility and control over businesses corporate spending and enables intuitive payment orchestration, reconciliation, and corporate spend intelligence,” according to the company press release.

The new round of financing was led by TLV Partners, with participation from Meron Capital, R-Squared Ventures, and investors led by fintech VC Ryan Gilbert.

Visa partners with First Boulevard to launch crypto APIs platform

Visa is launching a new platform designed to expand the access its customers have to cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin. There are currently 35 crypto platforms that are available to Visa users.

Visa announced a new partnership with First Boulevard, a digitally native neobank that focuses on building generational wealth for the Black community. First Boulevard will be the organization to pilot Visa’s new suite of crypto APIs, which will enable their customers to purchase, custody and trade digital assets.

The crypto pilot will serve as the next step in Visa’s plan to support API capabilities, enabling Visa customers to access and utilize crypto features as part of their financial planning.

Visa’s digital assets will be held by Anchorage, a federally chartered digital asset bank, headquartered in San Francisco.

“Visa’s new API will allow different private banks to connect to Anchorage’s capacity for bitcoin exchange, allowing bank customers all across the country to buy, custody and trade digital assets,” according to Nasdaq.

First Boulevard, a Kansas-based neobank, will launch Visa’s pilot program to allow customers to buy and sell Bitcoin.

By prioritizing the trial with this neobank, Visa aims to level the playing field in terms of who has access to new financial technologies. As part of its mission to embed diversity and inclusion into its partnerships and strategies, Visa has a vision to build wealth amongst the Black community.

Donald Hawkins, president and CEO of First Boulevard, says his company is excited to partner with Visa “and leverage their crypto APIs to provide another channel for the Black community to access crypto as a new asset class that can build Black wealth,” The Buttonwood Tree reported.

In conjunction with the pilot, the bank will launch a First Boulevard Visa Debit card, which offers digital-first features, including early access to wages with Early Direct Deposit and a Cash Back for Buying Black program.

First Boulevard will also include financial education and budgeting tools that can be utilized by its customers. First Boulevard plans to incorporate financial literacy education into their core platform. Visa will work with them to create educational materials and resources for this venture to make new technologies like crypto more accessible to underserved communities.

Hawkins toldCoindesk, “Our target market is Gen Z and millennial women… So cryptocurrency has been a hot topic in our company since the very beginning.”

Visa’s plan comes as an increasing number of crypto platforms are being marketed to consumers. Last year, Paypal, one of Visa’s biggest competitors, integrated cryptocurrency trading and transactions onto its platform last year. Furthermore, The Buttonwood Tree reports Venmo “will introduce a similar feature in the coming months.”

Food Lion starts accepting online orders from SNAP customers in NC

Food Lion has started accepting online grocery orders for delivery or pickup from North Carolina shoppers enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, according to a press release issued by the state’s Department of Health and Human Services.

The grocer is offering the service in partnership with Instacart, and the e-commerce provider will waive delivery or pickup fees on the first three orders North Carolina SNAP participants pay for with an electronic Electronic Benefits Transfer card through March 16.

Food Lion is joining a growing group of supermarket chains that are giving SNAP recipients the option of purchasing groceries electronically.

Dive Insight:
The announcement that Food Lion will let customers who receive benefits through the federal nutrition-assistance program to make purchases online builds on an effort by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to make it easier for SNAP consumers to purchase groceries.

The USDA launched a pilot to test SNAP e-commerce in 2019 and accelerated the effort when the pandemic began. Federal officials approved North Carolina’s application to join the program in April, putting it among the earliest states to become part of the initiative. The program now includes 47 states and the District of Columbia, although one state, Maine, has not yet moved ahead despite being approved to participate in, according to the USDA.

Food Lion, which is based in Salisbury, North Carolina, is the fifth grocer operating in the state to begin allowing SNAP customers to make online purchases. The other retailers include Aldi and the 25-store Carlie C’s chain, as well as Amazon and Walmart, which have been part of the USDA’s pilot since its inception.

Aldi has made particularly rapid progress in making e-commerce services available to shoppers who participate in SNAP. During the closing months of 2020, the grocer more than doubled the number of stores where delivery and pickup are options for those customers. Like Food Lion, Aldi is working with Instacart to offer online ordering to SNAP participants.

States and retailers need to make changes to the technology they use to handle EBT payments to allow SNAP participants to purchase groceries online using their benefits. In addition, retailers need to adjust their online ordering systems to handle coupons and enable refunds, and, if necessary, eliminate sales tax. There also is a need to make provisions to separate delivery fees from customer’s grocery costs because SNAP benefits cannot be used for those costs. Customers need to use a different form of payment, such as a debit or credit card, to cover the fees.

In announcing Food Lion’s addition to the program, North Carolina officials noted that online ordering can increase access to healthy foods and help people avoid contact with others during the pandemic by making it possible for people to shop for groceries without needing to visit a store. On Tuesday, a group of senators introduced legislation in Congress that would provide funds to create a universal online and app-based portal to let SNAP participants buy groceries online.

This story was first published on Grocery Dive.

BNY Mellon commits to holding, transferring and issuing crypto

BNY Mellon on Thursday said it will hold, transfer and issue cryptocurrencies on behalf of its asset-management clients.

The bank is forming a digital assets unit that is developing a client-facing prototype for a multi-asset digital custody and administration platform, according to a press release. The bank plans to roll out that capability this year, pending further evaluations and approvals, Roman Regelman, BNY Mellon’s CEO of asset servicing and head of digital, said in the release.

“Growing client demand for digital assets, maturity of advanced solutions, and improving regulatory clarity present a tremendous opportunity for us to extend our current service offerings to this emerging field,” Regelman said.

That regulatory clarity includes an interpretive letter the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency issued last month clarifying that banks can use stablecoins to facilitate payment transactions for customers on an independent node verification network. That followed guidance from July specifying that national banks could provide cryptocurrency custody services and hold unique cryptographic “keys” associated with cryptocurrency on behalf of customers.
BNY Mellon’s announcement marks the first time a large U.S. custody bank has unveiled a road map to treating digital currencies as any other asset, according to The Wall Street Journal.

JPMorgan Chase announced last spring it would extend banking services to cryptocurrency exchanges Gemini and Coinbase. The bank, at the time, did not agree to process cryptocurrency-based transactions but would provide cash-management services and handle dollar-based transactions for the exchanges’ U.S.-based customers, the Journal reported in May.

BNY Mellon’s announcement comes a day after Mastercard said it would support certain cryptocurrencies on its network this year.

The BNY Mellon unit charged with accelerating the development of digital asset solutions will be led by Mike Demissie.

“The Digital Assets unit plans to deliver a secure infrastructure for transferring, safekeeping and issuing digital assets,” Demissie said. “Consistent with our open-architecture approach, the unit will leverage BNY Mellon’s digital expertise and leading technologies from fintechs and other collaborators to speed up product development and help our clients tap into the best available solutions in the market.”

Editor’s note: This story was first published on Banking Dive.

Virginia-based bank provides Bitcoin access at ATMs

Virginia-based Blue Ridge Bank  is partnering with ATM operator BluePoint ATM Solutions and Bitcoin ATM software provider LibertyX to facilitate access to the cryptocurrency. This announcement comes as banks and regulators appear to be warming to digital assets, and as Bitcoin continues to gain value and attention.

| Anna Hrushka

Virginia-based Blue Ridge Bank is partnering with ATM operator BluePoint ATM Solutions and Bitcoin ATM software provider LibertyX to facilitate access to the cryptocurrency.

Blue Ridge Bank’s announcement comes as banks and regulators appear to be warming to digital assets, and as Bitcoin continues to gain value and attention.

“Blue Ridge Bank is excited to continue its evolution to serve the growing needs of our current and future customers,” CEO Brian Plum said in a statement. “The ATMs remain able to serve cash-based and inquiry activity, so this is simply layering on more services and reinforces our commitment to the future of banking for all customers.”
Anyone can use the bank’s ATMs to buy and sell Bitcoin as long as their ATM card is accepted, BluePoint ATM Solutions CEO Wade Zirkle told the Richmond Times-Dispatch on Thursday.

The bank’s dual capability of servicing cash and Bitcoin transactions at its ATMs is unique, said David Tente, executive director of the U.S., Canada and Americas for the ATM Industry Association.

“There are many that perform traditional cash transactions, as well as electronic Bitcoin transactions” but not both, he told the Times-Dispatch.

Zirkle said in a statement his company predicts more community banks and credit unions will demand similar “innovative fintech solutions” in their branches.

“This is a major milestone in terms of the adoption of Bitcoin as a fungible currency,” Stephen Mathai-Davis, co-founder and CEO of quantitative investment research and analytics company, said in an email. “The true challenge for digital assets, in my opinion, remains the custody process. How do I save my digital assets in a location that I can trust and will offer true transparency into its value? The decision by Blue Ridge offers this solution while also offering the ability for users to begin converting Bitcoin into U.S. dollars in the same way many of us would go to a bank to convert foreign currencies.”

Blue Ridge’s announcement comes as larger banks and payment networks move into the cryptocurrency space.

BNY Mellon, the largest custody bank in the U.S., said Thursday it will hold, transfer and issue cryptocurrencies on behalf of its asset-management clients. Mastercard said a day earlier that it would support certain digital assets on its network this year. JPMorgan Chase announced last spring it would extend banking services to cryptocurrency exchanges Gemini and Coinbase.

The wider acceptance comes as Bitcoin opened at more than $48,206 on Friday, its highest opening ever. The coin’s worth has jumped nearly fivefold from a year ago, according to Yahoo Financial, and stands at nearly 12 times it early-pandemic low value of $4,106.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) has issued several crypto-related statements in recent months, including an interpretive letter in January clarifying that banks can use stablecoins to facilitate payment transactions for customers on an independent node verification network. That followed guidance from July specifying that national banks could provide cryptocurrency custody services and hold unique cryptographic “keys” associated with cryptocurrency on behalf of customers.

This story was first published on Banking Dive.

BoA reports consumers digital banking engagement hits record levels

Consumers are embracing mobile banking with one banking institution experiencing record levels of engagement.

Bank of America reports 70% of consumer client households and small business clients and 77% of wealth management client households are digitally active and the company’s 39 million digital clients are increasingly adopting key features in mobile and online platforms.

Such growth in digital experiences is expected to continue given personalized experiences and the ease and convenience, as well as the ongoing pandemic, according to a press release.

“This past year digital capabilities were more important than ever to our clients,” David Tyrie, head of digital at Bank of America, said in the release on the digital activity.

Bank of America clients deposited 160 million checks using the mobile banking app in 2020. Last year, 84% of deposits were made through the company’s automated channels (mobile, online and ATMs), up from 78% the prior year.

In addition, 68% of consumer mortgage sales and 74% of direct auto sales were made digitally, compared to 36% and 60% respectively in 2019.

“The client is at the center of everything we do within our digital experience, which is guided by three core principles: it has to be in the client’s best interest, provide information and advice that is relevant and timely, and always offer the choice of the next best step,” Tyrie said in the release.

TravelBank enters into partnership with Adelman Travel

TravelBank announced a reseller partnership with Adelman Travel, a wholly owned subsidiary of BCD Travel with locations in 109 countries. TravelBank’s technology will power Adelman’s all-in-one travel, expense and corporate card management experience to provide Adelman customers with a streamlined view of their travel and expense programs.

Partnerships between travel management companies and tech providers have accelerated as the world prepares for the return of travel. To keep up with this change, TMC is focused on managing company spend more efficiently and transparently.

TravelBank’s expense management solution enables users to quickly submit expense reports, grant one-tap approvals for faster reimbursements, have more control over cost, as well as make informed decisions backed by timely analytics. Additionally, Adelman customers will benefit from a modern travel online booking tool that makes it easy to book and manage flights, car rentals and lodging, within their respective company travel policies.

“At Adelman we’ve launched a new strategy in response to the pandemic with a focus on innovation, which includes enhancing existing solutions to deliver on the predominant needs of our customers in the new travel world,” Steve Cline, president and COO of Adelman Travel said in the release. “TravelBank’s platform is the perfect complement to our product suite, as their combined travel, credit card and expense solutions deliver complete transparency and control over a company’s travel and expense.”

Adelman will integrate TravelBank’s platform with their existing proprietary solutions, offering their clients a seamless, all-in-one experience to book travel and management payment methods and expenses. Adelman will offer the services using a subscription.

“Like TravelBank, Adelman is striving to help companies streamline expenses while simultaneously providing next-level client services,” Duke Chung, co-founder and CEO of TravelBank, said in the release. “We look forward to providing a more comprehensive solution for Adelman customers that goes beyond just booking a trip.”

Omaha sporting event venues changed to 'no cash' venues

Sports fans in Omaha will find something new at their favorite venues this spring: none of the facilities will accept cash, only mobile payments and credit cards. The facilities decided to limit person-to-person contact by having customers use cards or mobile payments at concession stands, ticket windows and other purchase points, according to a report in the Omaha World-Herald.

This change was instituted during the pandemic at CHI Health Center and TD Ameritrade Park, both of which are managed by the Metropolitan Entertainment & Convention Authority and both of which have opened with limited attendance.

Instead of waiting online for food and drinks, people can choose to pull up a menu from the concession stand on their smartphone, place an order directly from their mobile device and pick up their food from a designated location.

But there’s still an option for those who mistakenly bring cash to the events. The venues all have a “reverse ATM” and a customer can use the touchscreen kiosk, feed the cash to the machine and receive a Visa debit card to use at the venue. There is no fee to convert cash, and if a customer still has a balance once they are leaving the venue the card can be used anywhere that accepts Visa.

Four machines are currently in the convention center and arena, two of which will move to the ballpark once the Creighton baseball season begins.

The CHI Health Center will host the NSAA state wrestling tournament later this month, the NCAA volleyball tournament in April and the College World Series and U.S. Olympic Swim Trials in June.

Online shopping trends: Mobile payments are mighty

The holiday online shopping trend jumped from over 13% in 2019, to nearly 20% in 2020, according to Mastercard. Jordan Reynolds leads the e-Commerce and Marketplace verticals at Ekata. He shares data and insight on how 2020 may have changed shopping forever.

Despite a major pandemic, the roller coaster of vaccine distribution and a new administration, it certainly feels good to see 2020 in the rearview mirror. It goes without saying that last year was anything but a normal year. In addition to the devastation that the COVID-19 pandemic caused, not to mention its unprecedented impact on global economic activity, the past year saw a number of major changes in consumer shopping patterns. And that affects this industry.

Now that the holiday shopping season figures are out and ready to be analyzed, we can take a long look at the patterns to determine what habits and changes are expected to continue to play out for the rest of year, particularly as it relates to e-commerce.

The online shopping boom is here to stay
Social distancing restrictions kept most consumers home and away from stores and other businesses in 2020, pushing many new customers into the online channel. That pattern was clearly evident during the 2020 holiday season; the e-commerce share of holiday shopping jumped from just over 13% in the prior year to nearly 20%, according to an early report from Mastercard. While the distribution of vaccines offers retailers the hope that consumers will finally begin returning to stores in force in 2021, that process will likely take months if not most of the year. Even then, a recent survey from McKinsey found a 40% increase in consumer intent to purchase online even after the COVID-19 crisis ends.

Seasonal shopping spikes will be longer and flatter
With e-commerce penetration skyrocketing during 2020 and retailers offering earlier sales and discounts, the traditional Black Friday/Cyber Monday holiday shopping spike was lower as sales started as early as October, and then were more evenly distributed through November and December. In the past, we observed 20% YoY growth in Black Friday volumes. Because of the inflated spending in Q2 and Q3, we expected lower YoY growth, and in fact saw 15% YoY growth in Black Friday volumes this year. As many consumers are now conditioned to shop online earlier, that pattern is likely to continue.

Smaller retailers embracing online channels will limit risk signals
Even as many consumers tried to “shop local” over the holidays in order to support hard-hit small and independent businesses, in-person shopping is likely to be much slower for months to come, so smaller retailers need additional ways to reach their customers. For some, this means trying out new channels, such as Facebook or Instagram, where they can post their entire inventory, making it easier for customers to shop in the apps they already use. However, since these channels don’t always get the same data and risk signals as an e-commerce site, smaller retailers will have to look at their data carefully to determine where risk exists.

New customer acquisition increases risk for merchants
Ordinarily, consumers like to shop with merchants who they know and trust, and that’s especially true during major holidays and events like Back to School. But during the pandemic, many people shifted their shopping behaviors to include new digital shopping methods or new retailers. In fact, 56% of consumers tried a new retailer during the pandemic, according to customer experience platform Narvar. While this period is usually considered “low risk” with the most established and least risky customers transacting, the amount of new customers created much higher risk for retailers in 2020 compared to previous years. With no prior history to inform fraud risk assessments, there is a higher likelihood that new customers will be exposed to friction in the shopping experience, creating a bad first impression for merchants. This could have an effect on customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Buy-online, pick-up-in-store (BOPIS) is a strategic advantage
While consumers flocked to the online channel during the holiday shopping season, many opted to pick up purchases themselves rather than paying for shipping or relying on shippers that struggled to guarantee the delivery of packages in time for the holidays. A survey from Adobe found that in-store and curbside pickup surged by more than 52% on Black Friday 2020 vs. the previous year. Again, until such a time comes when consumers feel safe to return to the malls and major department stores and retailers in large numbers, this is a trend that will continue. And since BOPIS interactions are typically card-not-present transactions, merchants that do not offer a seamless experience from online purchases to in-store pickup will be at a disadvantage versus those that do.

Despite the challenges facing both consumers and merchants, the 2020 holiday shopping season proved to be mostly successful, with sales up 3% over an expanded 75-day holiday shopping season according to data from Mastercard. For merchants, there are several takeaways that will help them throughout this year. The demand for entirely digital shopping experiences or those paired with safe in-store options will continue to present challenges for merchants looking to minimize both fraud risk and friction for new and returning customers. With consumers indicating both a willingness to try new retailers and shopping methods (and the intention to continue those behaviors), understanding potential new risk signals this year is essential to creating seamless experiences and building customer loyalty.

Top 10 global banks lost $23B in 2020, HSBC, Citi biggest losers

Data researched by Trading Platforms U.K. indicates that the top ten international banks cumulatively lost $23.01 billion in brand value in 2020. The banks recorded a total brand value of $98.12 billion, representing a drop of 18.99% compared to 2019’s $121.13 billion figure, according to a press release.

HSBC biggest loser in brand value
HSBC had the highest brand value in 2020 at $18.74 billion, a drop of 19% from 2019’s $23.6 billion. JP Morgan is second at $17.64 billion, representing a drop of 11% from 2019’s $19.82 billion. Citi ranks third at $15.66 billion, a decline of 17% from the $18.87 billion value recorded in 2019.

Morgan Stanley ranks fourth with a $9.32 billion brand value, a drop of 13% from 2019’s $10.65 billion. Goldman Sachs had $7.07 billion, a drop of 18% from 2019’s $8.63 billion. Santander follows at $7.02 billion, having dropped by 28% from $9.77 billion recorded in 2019. Elsewhere, BBVA is sixth with a value of $6.62 billion from 2019’s $8.15 billion.

ING had ranks eighth with a value of $6.54 billion, which dropped by 32% from $9.62 billion in 2019. UBS follows at $4.84 billion, a drop of 24% from $6.37 billion in 2019. Barclays is tenth at $4.62 billion, dropping 19% from 2019’s figure of $4.62 billion.

The analysis also shows that HSBC was the biggest loser in brand value by $4.42 billion, followed by Citi at $3.21 billion, while ING Bank is third with a $3.07 billion loss in value.

Santander lost its value by $2.75 billion while J.P Morgan ranks fifth at $2.17 billion. Other banks that lost significant value include BBVA ($1.89 billion), Goldman Sachs ($1.56 billion), UBS ($1.52 billion), Morgan Stanley ($1.33 billion) and Barclays ($1.05 billion).

“Overall, the crisis strengthened the competitive pressures among banking institutions through accelerating the shift towards digitalization of financial service providers. Some of the traditional banks heavily invested in digital services, enabling them to compete with fintech and other banks. At the same time, some of the traditional banks showed intentions to acquire existing challenger banks,” the report said.

Stoke Talent releasing accelerated payment tool for freelancers, consultants, contractors

Stoke Talent, a freelance management system, is releasing a new accelerated payment tool that enables companies to pay freelancers, consultants and contract workers within 24-hours and in their preferred currency and payment method, according to a press release.

“Around 70% of freelancers are younger than 35 – a generation that is accustomed to a digital-first world and expects real-time payments. They don’t want to wait 42 days for a wire transfer, and frankly, they shouldn’t have to. Stoke Talent’s accelerated payments tool eliminates that pain point and makes the process easy for both companies and freelancers,” Shahar Erez, co-founder and CEO of Stoke Talent said in the release.

Porte helps customer save, reduce debt, monitor spending

Populus Financial Group, a financial products and services provider, has launched Porte, a mobile banking solution to help members work toward financial freedom, according to press release.

Porte uses its app to reduce barriers and increase how members can access their money. It provides its members real-world insights into their financial challenges and resources to help guide them to make informed financial decisions. Porte is dedicated to customer service and utilizing member feedback to develop the services, features and benefits that ensure members own their money.

With the Porte app, members have easy and reliable access to their money. Among the resources customers can receive are: a 3.00% annual percentage yield savings account on balances up to $15,000 with no monthly maintenance fees; Porte Visa Debit card; easy-to-use tools such as the Budget Tracker and True Debt Calculator to help monitor monthly spending, reduce debt and save money; access to a Porte spending account and optional savings account without a brick and mortar bank.

Additional benefits include: access to paychecks up to two days faster when enrolled in direct deposit; optional overdraft service; cash back rewards at participating retailers and real-time account alerts.

“Porte’s mission is to inspire financial freedom by giving members the right tools to own their money,” Melanie Few, Populus financial group chief marketing officer said in the release. “As a generation of Americans struggle in the maze of managing their finances and, for so many, under the burden of what seems to be never-ending debt, they need a trusted partner. Porte was built on the feedback of consumers and we are fully committed to listening to members about services, benefits and features they desire and finding ways to deliver.”

Porte accounts and services have been established in partnership with MetaBank, National Association, Member FDIC and Netspend.

On demand webinar: AI-powered coach bots: A new path to financial wellness

How helpful would it be to have a fun, virtual coach to help you conquer all your financial issues plus subtly remind you when you procrastinate and cheer when you meet a financial goal?

Non-profit GreenPath Financial Wellness, in partnership with eGain, a customer engagement automation platform provider, launched such a bot which was explained and demonstrated during a recent webinar, AI-powered coach bots: A new path to financial wellness. The webinar was sponsored by eGain and is free to download here.

During the webinar the speakers discussed how a customer’s financial decisions and responses to meeting these obligations can shift due to financial hardship and debt. Also discussed were key behavioral science principles that impact financial wellness and produces positive engagement that respond well to coaching.

Speakers for the webinar included Rick Bialobreski, executive vice president of strategy, GreenPath Financial Wellness and Evan Siegel, vice president of financial services and AI for eGain.

“Customers need financial advice,” Bialobrzeski said during the webinar. “It’s not really surprising that people are just getting by. These days people need retirement and investment counseling as well as day-to-day advice on how to improve cashflow and credit.”

“A customer can simply chat with the chat bot and the bot guides the customer in small steps to meet the financial goals the customer has selected as key challenges. The chat bot not only understands the customer’s words, but also the intent and uses machine learning to keep the project or goals task.

Bialobrzeski and Siegel also discussed on the webinar the latest trends in customer behaviors regarding investments, finance preferences and what impact the pandemic has on those behaviors.

An informative slide presentation was used during the webinar as well as an in-house demonstration of how the coaching bot actually worked. Attendees were given examples of how the bot was able to use machine learning to keep the user engaged.

Following the webinar, there was an interactive Q and A with attendees.

To download the webinar, click here.