In 2012, companies like PayPal, Google and Apple made major announcements in the mobile wallets and offers space. Credit card companies were not nearly as noisy, but 2013 could be the year that all changes.
Financial institutions are embracing digital offers out of necessity because revenue from current sources is in decline. The future of the payments industry is shifting quickly to monetizing consumer relationships — particularly through mobile devices — and away from extracting new value from the payments value chain.
What many do not know is that credit card companies have experienced significant pain as a result of the capping of their lucrative interchange fees by the Durbin Amendment, which became effective in 2011. Faced with declines in what had previously been a significant form of revenue, credit card companies know that they need to open new sources of revenue. This need is becoming ever more urgent with companies like Google and Paypal joining the mix and leveraging their unique assets — novelty, retailer relationships, and extensive technology infrastructure.
The opportunity here is massive — total real-world (not online) retail commerce is $4 trillion a year in the U.S., and eMarketer just reported that mobile advertising is expected to increase by 180 percent in the coming year to reach $4 billion. Credit card companies looking to take their fair share of this revenue need to figure out how to leverage their great relationships with consumers to open up new sources of revenue.
Here are my suggestions for strategies that will help credit card companies come out ahead in 2013:
Stop chasing Chase. Instead, start acting like a media company.
To open new sources of revenue through media and technology, banks need to add new DNA that is not focused on traditional banking concerns such as regulatory compliance, security and fraud. Of course, I am not suggesting that they stop complying with regulations, or that they abandon security. But banks must become more nimble at attacking new revenue opportunities — particularly in consumer offers. At Google and other companies in Silicon Valley, teams still pull all-nighters to release alpha versions of products for consumers and partners in a matter of days to test an experience, an approach that is antithetical to the banking world. Yet if banks want to succeed in the media world, they have to figure out how at least part of their organization can play in an API-driven ecosystem that encourages collaboration and rapid product releases. First test for the C-suite at banks: Have you developed and released anything new to consumers in a single quarter?
Play ball with the competitors.
Consider the value of the ecosystem in growing your mobile offers initiative. In order to succeed in delivering a great mobile rewards program, the key is having a rich supply of merchant offers upon which to layer targeting. No one company is going to assemble enough, so think instead about collaborating with all the other players and getting the network effects of a larger audience and a bigger pool of offers. An interesting model for this kind of collaboration is WEVE in the UK, in which three mobile operators — EE,