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PFM strategy by Russian banks

I've done more than a few posts on PFM and its potential in Russia. I expected it to become mainstream in 2011, (be offered by a tier-1 bank sooner, rather that this year) and have probably guessed right about some banks who've initiated practical steps about the functionality that year, so that in 2012 we would have a number of banks trying to steal attention of those burgeoning number of customers (and there are estimated tens of thousands and more active PFM users), who demand this service.

It is widely believed, that PFM would help banks to increase wallet share (through allowing customers to better manage their balances and leave more money targeted to the goals that customers would be able to manage (and track) effectively. It is also expected, that PFM would made up for the slack of CRM systems and allow banks to target customers with products, based on their transactional / savings behavior.

The key question is whether the voiced benefits are to be delivered to a customer, who become more elusive with mobile phone becoming his default channel. Mobile form-factor is also a challenge for many banks, but potentially a winner for the whole PFM concept. Transactions should be captured by the PFM right at the moment of a customer doing transaction; engaging the customer with insight on better spending the money, offering tips and location specific advice. With that in mind, there are inflated expectations for a customer to monitor all transactions after he has done them: it is a comeback to an accounting type of behavior - and that kills the approach.

I am exited to hear two banks doing PFM - one of them from the disruptive league, and one from the tier-1: Svyaznoy bank has recently unveiled its online banking package redesign and has shown the upcoming Web and mobile-app versions of PFM that are to be part of it. To say at least, they are stunning when compared to what is offered by competition. Despite looking a lot like PNC PFM and Money Wallet app from 2008, nobody does contest the achievement.
Svyaznoy Bank online banking and PFM (v. 2.0)

Another bank is Sberbank, that has this week announced its mobile roadmap - and that includes, save real-time ATM geolocation and branch check-in service, and app-based Pingit like P2P service, a full-blown PFM that would enable customers to monitor their finance on the go. Slated for Q2-3, this comes from a bank that only several years ago was grappling with huge IT and branch service inefficiencies. Using its retail coverage, Sberbank have all chances to dominate the online banking services market - and PFM too, unless someone will have the ability to create a better service. Among the contenders are players like VTB24 and Alfa-Bank (all planning a relaunch of their respective online banking suites), yet the key to success is not seen - it requires compelling instruments to transact with a given cashless instrument, and lead to a changed behavior - only then the appreciation of a service (and all the financial benefits for a bank) is genuine.

It should be an exciting year for those demanding a PFM solution from banks - and the first year for banks to try and create a proper PFM proposition.

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Comments: (1)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 28 April, 2012, 22:51Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

You are totally correct.  Banking needs to move away from allowing customers to 'manage' their money, to 'maximising' their money. This is the next great transition, and for the banks that can achieve there is great benefits on offer.