Off to School

October 7, 2016
/   Insights

With the right technologies, community banks and other smaller players can compete more aggressively for the student loan market

The Container Factor

December 29, 2015
/   Voices

New technology to ease application shipment could make a big difference for many financial service institutions

Foolhardy Predictions for 2016

December 28, 2015

If history is any guide, it’s foolish to make predictions about the banking industry. There are too many external...

Banking with Non-Banks

December 18, 2015
/   Voices

Walmart Pay could be another step in companies outside financial services getting in on the action

Fast Facts: Student Loans

January 22, 2013
/   Insights

The Financial Services Roundtable recently released another iteration of its Fast Facts, reliable, bullet-point research about issues facing the financial services...

What We’re Reading

May 5, 2011
/   Spotlight

Below are interesting stories the staff has been reading over the past week. What have you been reading? Let...

It’s obviously inevitable that the dawn of a new year will produce a rash of predictions for the months ahead. It’s also obvious that many of these prognostications focus on mobile banking—after all, that’s where the action is right now (if we can skip the messy government settlement stuff). Still, that doesn’t mean we have any real idea what’s going to happen.

There’s certainly no question that this is the new battleground: Banks able to build on mobile innovation will reap the rewards of more engaged customers, higher market share and, ultimately, greater profits. And more than just competing against traditional rivals, they will be able to hold off online-only banking startups. That said, as with any advance, there might be a price to pay.

For example, increased mobile adoption in 2014 will take its toll on branch networks. There’s a new generation of consumers that has no real memory of traditional banking, which means the idea of actually stepping into a brick-and-mortar outlet seems quaint. For their part, financial institutions will market their services directly (and perhaps exclusively) to mobile-only customers.

Hand on mobile phone

Here’s one recent example of the effects of this trend: More than 140,000 customers of First Niagara, a community-oriented bank with some 420 branches in New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts—downloaded its mobile app in just the first year. Early in 2014, the bank announced an organizational restructuring that cuts 170 positions. Expect to see many more such stories in the next few months.

While things are busy on the consumer front, we could see even greater transformation on the business side. ‘The ath Power Small Business Banking Study,’ a new research initiative from ath Power Consulting, highlights a potentially worrisome divide between what the market appears to want, and what it’s actually getting. Fully two-thirds of the small business owners surveyed for the study say that they’re likely to switch banks in favor of better mobile options. However, some 37% of the bankers surveyed for the same research omitted to even mention their mobile offerings.

Isn’t it a little late in the day for mobile banking to not be on the forefront? In fact, one prediction for 2014 is that this is the year in which mobile banking will actually eclipse online banking, at least in users (within certain parameters, the number of transactions is already higher). That’s a remarkable advance for a capability that essentially didn’t exist just a few years ago. But with affordable smartphones now ubiquitous and 4G networks more widely available, the infrastructure certainly exists to speed the change.

The critical element here is that mobile isn’t really one thing anymore. For example, what we know as the camera dates back to 500 B.C., but putting one inside the phone now enables everything from Remote Deposit Capture to Picture Pay. This has had the effect of turning our business on its head, and it’s likely that we’re still in the nascent stages of this change—there are many more apps and capabilities still to come. Or consider digital wallets, particularly with aggressive marketing from institutions that see greater opportunities with this capability. Surely there will be discounts and other customer goodies, which in turn will affect the bottom line.

The more sobering reality is that these larger trends will only affect us as financial services institutions and professionals only to the extent that we are able to shape them. It’s not as if we’re just entering this brave new mobile world; we’ve been here for some time, and doing our part to develop new apps, adapt traditional offerings and empower customers. As always, we can identify emerging market needs and provide solutions to meet them.

However, the most successful companies are those than function ahead of the curve. They create technology and service solutions to problems that don’t exist, and in the process provide transformative capabilities to their customers. We can look ahead to 2014 and see what trends are coming down the pike. But we can also help drive those trends ourselves.

*Image courtesy of  twobee –


Insights’s perspective on industry news and trends



Must-read news and insights from financial industry leaders



Compelling voices and contributed content from around the web

James W. Gabberty

Gabberty is a professor of information systems at Pace University in New York City. An alumnus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and New York University Polytechnic Institute, he has served as an expert witness in telecommunication and information security at the federal and state levels and holds numerous certifications from SANS & ISACA.

Zachary Ehrlich

25-year-old writer, and as a native San Franciscan, I am unreasonably loyal to Bank of America, if only for their superhero-like origin story, involving the 1906 earthquake and Italian fruit vendors.

Brad Strothkamp

Marisa Mann

Marisa Mann brings over 15 years of experience in consulting and financial services industries to the Solstice team, working on large scale enterprise initiatives across many technologies, including specializing in the digital space – Internet and mobile. Mann is passionate about mobile and the endless possibilities for the enterprise, delivering business value through strong brand recognition and driving to excellence in the consumer experience. Prior to Solstice, Mann worked at JP Morgan Chase, Diamond Management and Technology Consultants, Washington Mutual, Inc, and Accenture.