Fiserv Furthers Innovation With INV Fintech Accelerator

Fiserv invited me to write this post for its official blog, The Point, about INV, our new fintech accelerator. To read it in its entirety on Fiserv’s website, click here. To learn more about Fiserv, click here.

Fiserv blog

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If innovation in the financial services arena was ever a luxury, it is no longer. In a dizzying upward spiral, the fast pace of life today has accelerated demand for innovation, which in turn has created pressure for more innovation. This is particularly true for all things digital.

Most financial institutions have embraced the revolution, refocusing and effecting internal cultural change to the point they now think with a “digital first” mindset. However, much like the universe itself, banking innovation is expanding and accelerating at an unprecedented pace. All players in this new world are going to need an assist.

As discussed recently in Forbes, Fiserv has stepped forward to provide that assist with a new fintech accelerator, INV. Fiserv developed INV in partnership … (Read the rest of the post on the Fiserv website by clicking here

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FBI: Let us in!
Apple: No!

Apple vs FBIA fact of digital life is that the harder we work to keep data secure, the harder bad guys will work to break in.

But what happens when government wants to break in?

The FBI has been trying to break into the iPhone owned by Syed Rizwan Farook. You will recall that it was Farook and his wife who, two months ago, shot 14 coworkers in San Bernardino, California, before being killed by police.

To date, Apple’s encryption, which Apple itself has not devised a means of breaking, has proved sound enough to foil even the FBI.

Two days ago, magistrate Judge Sheri Pym of the Federal District Court for the District of Central California ordered Apple to create a way for the FBI to break in.

Yesterday, Cook replied with a resounding NO. Some excerpts from his open letter:

Up to this point, we have done everything that is both within our power and within the law to help them. But now the U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create …

Specifically, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession…

Opposing this order is not something we take lightly. We feel we must speak up in the face of what we see as an overreach by the U.S. government …

… ultimately, we fear that this demand would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect.

Cook raises real concerns. On the other hand, the FBI’s interest in thwarting future potential attacks is not to be lightly dismissed. How will this play out? Stay tuned.

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Mobile’s Impact on Revenue and Attrition: Astounding



My new article for The Financial Brand on the mobile banking explosion’s positive effect on revenue and customer retention is now online. Read it by clicking here or on the image at right.







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What time of day are social media most effective?

time-94990_960_720A MARKETING ASSOCIATE picked up an interesting tidbit of information in the course of a recent social media campaign. He found that the campaign pulled plenty of views, clicks, and sales on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., and almost none on weekdays after 5 p.m. and on holidays and weekends.

At first blush, two conclusions might appear reasonable. First, that the best time to run social media ads is during so-called “banker’s hours.” (Apologies for the stereotype to hardworking bankers.) Second, that your employees may be spending considerable amounts of time on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram et al—when you’re supposedly paying them to work.

The surfing-not-working problem used to be limited to jobs that plunk employees all day in front of a computer. But thanks to portable devices, it’s now easier than ever to waste time no matter when and where you work. If that’s not progress, I don’t know what is.

There are some data that appear to back up both conclusions. ComScore reported that online shopping during the year-end holidays “… peaked during the middle of the day … More than half of all online dollars were spent between the hours of 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM, with the heaviest spending (26.9 percent) occurring during the 12:00 PM – 3:00 PM time segment.” Advertising Age reported a U.K. study that found, “Younger audiences … showed more interest in commercial messages as the day progressed, while older age groups had distinct peaks in attention between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. and from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.”

If you clicked the above links, you may have noticed that, respectively, the ComScore and Advertising Age data are from 2007 and 2009. In a fast-evolving digital world, that makes them ancient. More recent data in this area are painfully difficult to track down, but at least one 2012 study from Statista shows that 54 percent of online sales happen outside of normal work hours. While that’s encouraging, it leaves a hefty 46 percent shopping from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Don’t change your social media schedule—or fire anyone—just yet. There are caveats.

First, it’s unreasonable to assume that everyone is at work on weekdays from 9 to 5. Second, even 2012 data are old. Third, U.K. and U.S. work and shopping habits may differ. Fourth, my associate’s data relate to just one product. Other products targeting other markets may not produce the same results.

If you’re deciding upon day parts to advertise in social media, all of the above leave you with little to go on. What to do? Simple. Never assume. Find out what works for your market by testing and tracking days and day parts. 

Equally important, make an ongoing practice of testing. Per my earlier comment about a fast-evolving digital world, a day part that serves you well one week may betray you the next.

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From Cattle to Bitcoin


Bitcoin wraps up
its best year ever

Currency is a social contract. Whether we’re talking dollars, euros, pesos, rubles, or yen,  their worth is no more nor less than what the parties to a transaction agree they’re worth.

The word currency came into fashion in the mid 17th Century CE. It was coined (so to speak) from the Latin currens, meaning to run or to flow, as currency has a habit of doing. But the concept of currency started out millennia earlier. Had you lived long enough ago, you could have paid debts and made purchases with knives, salt, tea, whale teeth, coconuts, cattle, seashells, grain, and more.

In a manifestation of convergent economic evolution, official coins began appearing independently in India, China, and cities surrounding the Aegean Sea between 700 and 500 BCE. China introduced paper currency in the 11th Century CE. As for American paper currency, it was backed by gold until 1933 or 1971, depending on how you prefer to define “backed.”

I can wrap my mind around determining the relative worth of, say, a volume of grain and a cow. The leap to agreeing to accept pieces of minted metal and, later, slips of printed paper as representative of worth seems quite the cultural feat.

Currency hasn’t stopped evolving. If you’re alive at the moment, you’re aware of newer forms of currency, such as numbers that your financial institution records and that you exchange by use of a plastic card with a magnetic strip (and also, now, a microchip), a computer, or portable device like a smartphone or tablet.

And then there’s Bitcoin. Though not the first virtual or digital currency, it is by far the best known and most successful. It launched in 2009 when Satoshi Nakamoto, which may or may not be a real person’s name, released shareware by which people could “mine” Bitcoins through the execution of complex algorithms. The algorithm is designed so that the total minable quantity is finite and will likely be reached between 2110 and 2140. To the surprise of many, sufficient numbers of people and corporations quickly agreed on the value of bitcoins and began using them for purchasing and investing.

Bitcoin’s future looked shaky at the end of 2014, but Bloomberg View now reports that in 2015 Bitcoin “… gained almost 40 percent, knocking the Somali shilling into second place, the Gambian dalasi into third, and the Burundi franc to a distant fourth spot.” Bitcoin has become so successful that governments are in the throes of sorting out how to define it, and whether and how to tax it.

Charles H. Duell, the U.S. Patent Office Commissioner in 1899, went down in history for lamenting, “Everything that can be invented has been invented.” Poor Duell. There is no record that he ever said that. Rather, it appears that a 1985 advertising campaign placed those naive words in his mouth, making him an instant urban legend. In any case, if there is one lesson that history has taught us and that the technological revolution drives home daily, it is that there will never be a time when everything that can be invented has been invented.

Which leads me to wonder what the next currency will be. Stay tuned.

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