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Personalize this

Can personalization deliver sustainable competitive advantage for retail banks? It would seem so if one references a study in which up to 70% of global banking customers expressed willingness to even offer up personal data if it could positively influence personalization and service.

Two recent banking start-ups, featured in this year's edition of the Efma-Infosys Innovation in Retail Banking study, are betting their business models on personalization. Though each brings its unique take to the concept, both ideas are based on a common founding principle - digital-only operations.

The first is Knab, which incidentally is 'bank' spelt backwards, an online and mobile focused bank launched in the Netherlands by Dutch insurer Aegon. Knab's personalization strategy is driven by two key components. The first is an array of sophisticated personal financial management tools that customers can use to aggregate data from across all their bank accounts to indulge in some holistic budgeting and forecasting. The model also provides access to Knab-vetted but independent financial advisors who can help customers fine-tune their financial plans. All customer information, including e-mails, chats, financial statements, agreements and even telephone conversations with the service desk, are stored in personal archives.

US-based start-up Moven is not a bank; it's a financial management service with banking services provided by an FDIC registered institution. And it's not online; it's built around the mobile phone, using mobile contactless technology. Moven's approach to personalization brings some aspects of the 'quantified self' movement to help track and manage spending patterns. By allowing the integration of its personal financial management tools with a customer's Facebook social timeline, Moven helps customers understand the impact of their social life on their spending. Customer spending profiles are also updated in real-time, as they are transacting in the brick & mortar world, to keep them on top of their spending trends.

Personal financial management tools and digital channels are two of the hottest trends in the world of banking today. And both these banks are positioned square at their intersection


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