More Financial Services Come To Facebook Messenger

What Happened
Facebook Messenger is about to get a lot better at handling your money, as five major financial services launched or upgraded their services on Facebook’s popular messaging app in tandem with Facebook’s F8 event. On Tuesday, Western Union and MoneyGram both launched Facebook Messenger bots for handling cash transfers, while Wells Fargo announced it is testing a Facebook Messenger bot for basic banking tasks such as checking account balances and transferring between accounts. In addition, Mastercard also announced that its Masterpass online payment service will power select Messenger bots, allowing them to take payment from MasterCard, as well as from banks like Citi and Capital One.

What Brands Need To Do
Last fall, Facebook rolled out the Messenger Payments API, which works with services like PayPal to add payment support to chatbots. Now with more and more banks and financial services getting on Messengers, customers will have increasingly convenient access to their money without leaving the chat app, which, in turn, would accustom them to the idea of buying stuff on Messenger and open the door for conversational commerce. As the online banking experience continues to evolve from a website-based experience to modular service integrations on popular platforms, banks and financial service brands will need to adapt to the changing consumer habits by developing conversational experiences to allow easy access and management.  

For more news on what Facebook announced at this year’s F8 developer conference, please check out our latest Fast Forward analysis.


Source: VentureBeat

Mastercard Starts Testing Credit Cards With Fingerprint Sensors In South Africa

What Happened
Mastercard is testing a new kind of payment cards integrated with fingerprint sensors for authentication. Instead of putting in your PIN or hastily signing the receipts to complete purchases, you simply press your thumb on the card to prove the transaction. Mastercard is currently testing this new biometric card in South Africa, and plans to roll it out worldwide later this year. Users will need to go to an enrollment center (usually a bank) to have their fingerprints taken in order to use this type of cards.

One thing to note is that this type of biometric authentication only works with the new chip-and-pin cards, which has been gaining momentum in the U.S. thanks to regulatory changes in the past two years that pushed merchants and banks to upgrade from the magnetic stripe cards and swipe-only POS terminals.

What Brands Need To Do
Mastercard has been exploring the integration of biometric technology in payment authentication for a while now. Previously, the credit card company also tested a mobile payment method that is authenticated by taking a selfie. Other brands, especially those in retail and financial services, should take notes and start thinking about how to upgrade their security and authentication process by using new biometric technologies to provide a smoother user experience.  


Source: Engadget


Coin Consolidates Cards For Flexible Payments

Coin may stand a chance to revolutionize the payments space by allowing you to consolidate your bank and loyalty cards onto a single platform. The Kickstarter project allows you to tie all of your cards to a single one via bluetooth and then actively manage which one you use through an app. Unlike other payment startups, Coin is not a disruptive technology, but an enabler; one that lets you pay chiefly the same way you always did but with more flexibility. While they may run into some friction with banks and merchants who have not sanctioned this activity, the utility Coin provides is worht of attention.

The Way Forward For NFC Payments

Today in Hall 4 a conference session was held to discuss NFC and the future. One of the key panelists was Ryan Hughes of Isis, the NFC payments initiative backed by AT&T, Verizon and T-mobile. They have been running trials in Salt Lake City and Austin this past year and discussed some of their findings during the session.

One of the major hurdles they’ve encountered from a usability standpoint is educating consumers on how the technology works, or even that they have the capability in the first place. On the backend side of things, they’ve overcome a great deal of complexity building out their infrastructure. They baseline threshold they’ve set for themselves is for a customer to be able to freeze their Isis account with one call to their carrier if they lose their phone. It sounds simple enough but getting all of the different systems to talk to eachother such that this functionality is possible has taken a lot of doing.

Mr. Hughes showed a 30 second spot for Isis, or at least what one could be like once the product launches wide. In it, we see a woman jogging along and then stopping to pay for things with Isis, to the point where she comes home from her jog with a mountain of shopping bags. Of particular note during this video clip was that at one point she sees a deal on a flyer, taps the flyer to load the deal onto her account, and then redeems the deal at a store. This kind of seamless functionality could go a long way to getting consumers excited about the technology. That said, the really big spike in adoption spurred by this may not hit until NFC-enabled devices reach a price point such that rabid coupon clippers can afford them.

In the meantime, he stressed that Isis does not capture spend data, and actually doesn’t know for sure whether a given transaction had gone through. So they are not collecting data for retargeting, and have no plans to. That relationship is between the customer and the bank.

Bill Gajda, the head of mobile for Visa also spoke. He highlighted that 9 of the top 10 device makers are shipping NFC-enabled phones (no mention of the one holdout). Also, more positively, most new merchant Point Of Sale systems hitting the market today support contactless payments. This is a particularly critical development, since retailers tend to upgrade their equipment once every several years.

Mr. Gajda went on to make an announcement that an agreement had been reached for all nextgen Samsung smartphones will ship with Visa PayWave app for NFC payments.

He went on later in the session to map out the future of mobile payments in the developing world in particular. He speculated that emerging markets will likely leapfrog over traditional fixed line payment systems to mobile terminals that are multi-modal; they can accept card swipes, card taps or NFC taps. These types of devices, if they are affordable to merchants, could rapidly grow in markets that currently operate primarily in cash because of the cost and hassle of traditional POS solutions.

All of the speakers reflected on how for yeas it has seemed as though NFC was right around the corner, and it’s been slow going. They still have enormous faith in the technology and feel as though the industry is getting its ducks in a row for much larger adoption in the coming year.