Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Costanza is known for having a large wallet. Google and Isis want to change that.

NFC technology is hoping to make a bulging wallet a thing of the past. Is your credit union ready to make the change?

No will deny the fact that technology is ever-changing. Stats are thrown around about how an iPhone is now more powerful than NASA’s supercomputers were in the 70’s. That is impressive.

With all of this change, businesses need to be constantly evaluating what their options are at all times. The credit union industry is no different. In fact it may have more to lose with some of the new technology coming down the road.

Let’s look at Near Field Communication (NFC) technology as an example. NFC is technology found in phones that allow an individual to pay for goods and services without pulling out their debit or credit card. This technology is much more commonplace outside of the United States but even within it is growing. Currently there are two main competitors in the space, Google Wallet and Isis. While Isis is still testing out their network, they do have the backing of Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile. This ensures that Isis will be available on many handsets in the near future. Google Wallet has, of course, Google backing the service, along with MasterCard. This enables Google Wallet to be used anywhere PayPass is accepted.

Yes, at least with Google, there needs to be a debit or credit card backing the purchase but currently the only card compatible is a Capital One MasterCard or the Google PrePaid MasterCard. That means each and every credit union will either miss out or be left funding the Prepaid card (all of this could change once Google Wallet opens up its software). The Durbin Amendment has already limited access to fee income many credit unions and banks relied on. This will only take more.

While NFC has not yet hit critical mass, the rumor mill is ablaze with Apple working on their own NFC technology. This could change this greatly.

Next up is PayPal. Have you heard PayPal is working with many national retailers to make it feasible to use your PayPal account to make your purchases at the register? Why does this matter to credit unions? PayPal currently has over 220 million accounts. This makes for a lot of potential customers for this service. Many have used PayPal as a makeshift savings account and now they can use it as a checking account too.

Never fear! There are always things you can do to counteract new technology that could negatively affect your business.

1. Learn everything you can about the service. Test it out yourself, if you can. Merely saying that the service is not safe will not stop people from using it. Look at Foursquare. Many have denounced Foursquare for privacy reason but people still use.

2. See how you can adopt the technology. The old mantra of “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” is in full force. If this is the way your members want to go, let them. I would suggest making sure your cards can be added to Google Wallet, Isis, or Apple’s service once it is all made available.

3. Create your own! While it may not be economically feasible for most institutions to go on their own with this, it is always an option. The IT infrastructure that would need to be in place might be a little much and it really would be easier to integrate into the current structure.

As tech is ever-growing, what do you see as being an issue from credit unions (or other businesses) in the near future?

P.S. Having used Google Wallet, I do appreciate it. I am one of those people who is always fumbling with my phone so not needing to put it down to pay for my food is great for me. Is Google Wallet the answer? Time will tell. NFC is here to stay though.


Lately in the social media world there has been a lot of talk about the geolocation, and rightly so. For those of you unaware, geolocation uses the GPS in your phone to determine where you are. From there, and depending on the app, you can check-in to the place you are and tell your friends. This sphere is getting to be so popular that Facebook has even announced an entrance into the geolocation arena.

Currently there are quite a few players vying for supremacy with clear, current leader. Foursquare is leading the pack even though it was not the first entrant and this is attributed to the game aspect that has been included. In this game you earn badges for completing tasks or can become “Mayor” of your favorite spot by checking-in more than anyone else. The rest of the pack includes BrightKite, Loopt, Gowalla and Whrrl, among others.

While Foursquare does currently have the lead I recently found a new service with loads of potential, SCVNGR. Remember having scavenger hunts as a kid? This has the same premise. SCVNGR runs off of points, you get a point just for checking in and then the real game comes into play. This past week I checked-in at a local Mexican restaurant for a meeting. Upon checking in I was then given the tasks to gain more points; Social Check-in (check-in with friends), Take a picture, Fear Factor (where you take a picture of your food in such a way that it looks like it should be on Fear Factor) and Say Something (those are all I remember).

So what is so good about this new service? This makes the game all the more interactive and all your non-tech minded friends can help you complete the tasks. The creators have also been hard at work speaking with various companies to get a rewards program off the ground. If that does not start your creative wheels turning how about a partnership with the Minnesota Vikings? What does this new service have in store? Growth. I have been watching it for quite some time and only recently jumped in the game with the acquisition of a new phone.

This is currently the only thing slowing growth, availability. For those with an iPhone or Android device I recommend jumping in. The great thing is that you can create a trek and anyone with SMS capability can join in, just not for the check-in service.

My conclusion after playing around with SCVNGR for the last little bit is that Foursquare may need to update a few things to keep their spot on top. The potential for this relatively new entrant is immense and with geolocation on the rise, as well as GPS-enabled phones sales rising, SCVNGR is in a good spot to grow, quickly.

Maybe what they should focus on is making an app available to those without smartphones to get them enthralled with the service so when they finally do go to the smartphones they are already engaged in SCVNGR and will not want to try the other services. Could this be the key to dominance for geolocation to really take off? Only time will tell.

Be formulating new strategy to incorporate these services, I know I am.

Let me know what you think. Have you tried SCVNGR or any of the other apps mentioned and if so what is your take? Or is geolocation more of a fad?

Lately I have been listening to a musician named Sage Francis. He has inspired me with many of his writings but with this last album that recently came out, Li(f)e, there was a song that has touched me in various ways. “Best of Times,” shown above, demonstrates Sage’s ability to poetically rap but most of all, that he is a true word smith.

As this is not a music blog, per se, I will only be talking about what this song means to me in the business/social media sense. This is also a topic that I have been playing with in my head for quite some time so bear with me.

Technology Made it Easy For Us to Stay in Touch While Keeping Our Distance

Actual screenshot from Facebook

So now you see where this blog post is going. Technology, whether it be cell phones, social media or computers, has made communication less personal, while letting keep in touch much easier.

When I was younger there was no Facebook or Twitter or MySpace. When you wanted to talk to someone you either had to call them on the phone or go over to their house. Do not get me wrong, I love technology but with the social media it has given us a way to communicate in a very impersonal manner. Of course with many of the people on Twitter that you may be following you have never met and that is OK but take a look at the screenshot from Facebook I posted. These two are actually married yet they make their plans over a wall post? (The remark about the vacation is most likely in reference to my remark to them)

Why do we communicate like this? Well it is easier. It is much like a quick text message or email, that anyone can see. It also gives us the option to virtually meet people we may never have had the opportunity to meet. While this is just fine it does not compete with the experience of meeting with someone in real life (or as they say on Twitter, IRL). We basically become the sum of those people we meet and every encounter can lead to a very meaningful relationship at some point down the road.

All is not lost. If you want to me your local Twitter followers, schedule a Tweetup. Using the Twtvite you can find or schedule a Tweetup in your home town to get to know those with whom you already have a relationship online. Or check out Meetup for people who may share you interests in your area. There is anything from Mountain Biking to themed Meetups happening all over your town, so check them out!

There are so many other organizations you can join to meet like-minded individuals and really enjoy yourself so I challenge you to break free of technology’s grasp and meet someone new, IRL. You will be happy you did.