Over the last year, beacons, the low-powered proximity detection devices, which were initially touted as a ‘retail only’ opportunity were leveraged by businesses across various verticals, right from casinos to universities for proximity marketing. But of recent they have started to make inroads into the banking sector as well.
Late last year, U.S. Bank, along with mobile capture software company Mitek, predicted that banks and financial institutions will see beacon usage take off in 2015. Especially with most consumers willing to opt in to release data in exchange for relevant, personalized experiences that will in turn help streamline bank visits for consumers and employees.
In this article we will talk about why beacons are predicted to help enhance banking experiences and how these proximity detection devices can irrevocably change the traditional banking sector.
Why Beacons can help enhance Banking experiences
1. Accurate location targeting can boost mobile conversions by more than 2X
According to a recent location accuracy report by Thinknear, a mobile ad platform, accurate location targeting was found to result in more than 2X improvement in “conversion lift” when used as part of ad targeting.
Location awareness offered by iBeacon technology will allow banks to be proactive with their consumers. For example, banks can use beacons to integrate the physical branch of a bank with a mobile device in the hands of a consumer. The moment a consumer walks into the branch of a bank with a smartphone, the bank will be able to recognize him/her, bring up relevant information with the teller or bank manager and equip them to offer proactive services.
2. Beacons can help enhance adoption, engagement and monetization opportunities
When it comes to the banking sector, one of the greatest challenges faced by most mobile banking partners and financial institutions has been in enhancing the opportunities around adoption, engagement and monetization of their mobile channel. And now beacons offer the perfect solution to this.
Mobiquity Networks recently partnered with Relevant Solutions, a provider of branded and white-label mobile applications, to allow institutions in the financial service sector to reach out to app users in shopping malls via beacons. As part of this beacon program, any consumer who happens to have the app of a financial institution on their smartphone, can opt in to receive offers from brands and merchant stores at malls and be prompted to pay with that particular institution’s card. Thus, not only do beacons open up an additional revenue source for banks and credit unions, it also allows financial institutions to engage app consumers beyond the activity of payments and account-balance inquiries.
For example, in certain select beaconed areas in malls, consumers (who have the banking or credit union apps on their smartphone) who have opted in to receive notifications will now see offers and information from surrounding mall-store merchants. These notifications will then appear on consumers’ home screen and drive visits to the financial institution’s app.
3. Global penetration of both smartphone and banking apps amongst consumers
According to the new figures from eMarketer, the number of worldwide smartphone users are expected to surpass 2 billion in 2016. Adding on to that, according to Gartner Research (2014), around 70% to 81% of banks have their apps in app stores across a wide range of device platforms.
Thus, the global penetration of both smartphone and banking apps amongst consumers coupled with the rate at which businesses are now going ahead with mainstream beacon deployment, suggests the time is right for banks to go the beacon way.
Also, last March the U.S. Federal Reserve reported that more than half of U.S. smartphone users were found to have conducted mobile banking in the last 12 months. The report also added that 12% of the smartphone users who were not using mobile banking think that they will probably use it within 2015.
Thus, at a time when banks and credit unions are trying to improve the economics of branch banking, beacons could help provide additional value to consumers while driving in more revenue and loyalty, at the same time. Lets take a look at a few potential use cases of beacons in banks
How Banks can put Beacons to use
1. Cater to the needs of consumers with special needs
Image Source: engadget.com
Barclays recently leveraged beacons in-branch to streamline and personalize bank visits for consumers with disabilities. The beacon trial which was launched early last December, used beacons deployed within a bank to alert employees via a mobile app when a consumer with special needs arrived at the bank. Employees were then able to offer a more personalized service to ensure the customer’s comfort. Meanwhile, interested consumers could opt-in to use the service via the Barclays mobile app and could pre-register the required information, including accessibility needs and a photo for identification.
With every one in five consumers at Barclays reported to have an impairment, the bank launched the beacons trial with hopes to make life easier for those with special requirements.
One of the factors that consumers find most unproductive when it comes to banking is having to wait in a queue. Banks can better manage such consumer expectations by delivering digital content (such as educational banking guides, videos etc.) relevant to the consumer’s profile, right from news to stock prices, to keep them occupied while waiting in queue. In fact, Harbin Bank in China has found that when engaging with banking services, most customers find educational digital resources very helpful. Banks can even use beacons to send banking guides or videos on various probable ‘how to’ scenarios directly to the consumer’s smartphone.
According to Cisco Customer Experience Report (2013) , 69% of consumers are willing to provide their personal information for a better banking experience. This is where beacons come into the picture. These devices allow banks to customize the banking experiences to the needs of each consumer. For example, with beacons, banks can deliver targeted digital product content based on previous consumer activity, account ownership and demographics, to the consumer’s smartphone upon entering the branch. Such personalised relationships will give banks an invaluable opportunity to stay ahead in a highly competitive market.
Thus beacons can support banks at their goal of transforming current mobile banking apps into indispensable financial applications by delivering relevant and timely digital content.
If you are planning a beacon pilot, take a look at Beaconstac, that includes everything you need to get started. Using Beaconstac you can set up your own campaign, without a developer’s help!