SAN FRANCISCO —Making it easier for consumers to spend seemed to be a prevailing theme at the FinovateSpring 2011 conference and that’s not necessarily good strategy, according to a couple credit union industry participants in attendance.
A number of the 65 presenters at the two-day show had developed solutions that use iterations of electronic couponing and merchant geo-location technologies via smartphones and social channels, then linking the purchase directly to the consumer’s account.
“I don’t think the world really needs one more way to separate consumers from their money under the guise of coupons,” said Alix Patterson, chief operating officer of Callahan & Associates in Washington, D.C.
“I’m a fan of Living Social, I used it for my children’s birthday parties, but I don’t think credit unions need to be in the business of finding more ways for their members to spend,” Patterson said.
Robert Broadwell, general manager of Internet banking specialist S1 Corp. subsidiary PM Systems Corp. of Chapin, S.C., expressed a similar view.
“One of the starkest things I’ve seen here is that many of the offerings are designed to commoditize products that credit unions already offer, and they don’t really help credit unions improve their margins or sell their own products,” he said. “And several I’ve seen so far just help consumers better shop for alternative products.”
There were some high points for both industry veterans during the conference which wrapped Wednesday at the San Francisco Design Center Concourse.
Patterson said she thought credit unions “would just eat up the Ratematch product from Code Green”, which centralizes updating of interest rate offers across multiple member-facing platforms. “That set off the Twitter posts,” she said of CEO Jason Green’s presentation.
Broadwell said he thought Mitek’s new application for capturing bills and presenting them for payment via smartphone “was pretty slick, although I don’t know how long the legs will be on something like that, since we’re not likely to see many bills being presented by paper in the future anyway.”