Transaction Alerts Need to Get Smarter

By Jim Bruene on February 18, 2015 4:52 PM | Comments
fraud word cloud.jpgMy inbox is far from normal. With 25 active financial accounts, all set to maximum notifications, I am drowning in email alerts, push notifications and other helpful communications. But who isn't overloaded with with missives from social media, news feeds, spambots and whatever else is competing for your attention. 

Banks need to help users cut down on the noise, by offering smart alerts that don't bog you down in trivial details. Not to pick on anyone in particular, because all my providers do pretty much the same thing (with the notable exception of BillGuard), but this alert from Bank of America today (see below) is a good example of info overload. 

Yes, I'm sure I asked the bank to notify of any card not present transactions. Given the amount of times my card number has been breached in the past 5 years, it's a good early warning. But really, do you think it's necessary to tell me for the 89th consecutive month that you paid my $8.75 Netflix monthly fee? Really, I just want to be informed if it were to suddenly go up or be repeated. 

BofA would probably want my permission to stop sending me this monthly alert. So how about a little button that says, "Don't tell me about this charge if it's the same next month" or something along those lines. And this should also be an option in the bank's alert dashboard ("don't alert me to repetitive monthly fees, unless they change"). 

Thanks for listening. 


Bank of America email alert (18 Feb 2015)



Source: Fraud artwork above from NCUA's MyCreditUnion 


Tuesday Tactics: Creating a Winning Confirmation Page

By Jim Bruene on February 17, 2015 11:12 AM | Comments
pelican_laptop.jpgOver the years I've rarely been impressed with the confirmation pages displayed after a user takes an action, especially completing an online loan or product application. Today, I came across a good example of a post-sale confirmation screen from RedBubble (see screenshot below), an online purveyor of smartphone cases, laptop skins, and so on (see inset). 

Notice the things they do right:

1. Thank for the order! 
2. Mockup of the receipt with big "PAID" stamp across it. 
3. Specific details on what happens next. 
4. Social sharing tool (may not be applicable to financial institutions, use at your own risk)
5. Links to key help areas (changing the order, determining shipping date)
6. Email address for Help (with order number clearly visible)

Other items a bank should consider:

1. Toll-free contact number
2. More personalization....for example, "Thanks Pat" 
3. Detailed information on expected turnaround time for the application to be processed
4. Have a real person say the "thanks"
5. Navigation option back to an appropriate area on your website
6. Upsell messages
7. Security assurances
8. Privacy policies



Tuesday Tactics: Capital One Uses Calendar Integration in Email Promotion

By Jim Bruene on February 2, 2015 4:30 PM | Comments

imageEditor's Note: This post was drafted three days before Thanksgiving (24 Nov 2014), but inadvertently never published. But the technique cited can be used any time of the year. So without further ado.....


Capital One 360 continues the tradition of Black Friday banking promotions used by its predecessor ING Direct (previous posts). The direct bank unit of Capital One sent its first promotional tease three days before Thanksgiving (Monday afternoon, 24 Nov 2014). It simply said to watch the site for specials beginning after midnight (Eastern Time) on Thanksgiving night.

The bank has been using a similar direct-marketing technique for years. But this year, I noticed one small improvement. The bank makes it easy for readers to load a reminder to their calendar with a single click (supports Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, iCal).

Bottom line: Calendar integration is a nice touch and something that financial marketers could use whenever there is an upcoming deadline such as sweepstakes, offers, seminars, webinars. It could also be used to help customers remember payment or application deadlines.


Capital One 360 Black Friday countdown page (link, 24 Nov 2014)


Black Friday email teaser (24 Nov 2014, 1:30 PM Pacific Time)



Apply to Demo Your Latest FinTech Innovation at FinovateSpring 2015!

By Eric Mattson on January 14, 2015 6:30 PM | Comments

btn3_ov.pngWith the presenter roster set for FinovateEurope, we've begun our global search for the financial technology innovations that will be showcased at FinovateSpring in Silicon Valley on May 12 & 13.  

Last year, FinovateSpring welcomed a record crowd of 1,300 executives who witnessed 70+ new fintech innovations debut via our signature demo-only format.

This year, based on the early interest, we expect the event to grow significantly and to showcase even more great innovations than last year.

If your company is interested in debuting your latest and greatest at the premier event for fintech innovation, please email us at for more details.

If you're interested in attending FinovateSpring to watch the future of fintech unfold live on stage, tickets are on sale for the event at the affordable super early-bird price through this Friday only.

We'll see you in Silicon Valley in May (or London in a few weeks)!

FinovateSpring 2015 is sponsored by: The Bancorp, CapitalSource, Envestnet, Financial Technology Partners, Hudson Cook LLP and Life.SREDA.

FinovateSpring 2015 is partners with: Aite, Bank Innovators Council, BankersHub, Bobsguide, BreakingBanks, California Bankers Association, Canada, Celent,, Filene Research Institute, Hotwire PR, Javelin Strategy, Mercator Advisory Group and Western Independent Bankers.

Categories: FinovateSpring 2015

Capital One's Well-Designed "Suspicious Activity" Email Alert

By Jim Bruene on January 5, 2015 2:47 PM | Comments

image I've used Capital One's credit card fairly actively for the past 4 or 5 years. And they've rarely, if ever, declined a charge (and there has never been any fraud on the card). The last fraud message I can find in my email was in December 2011 (see last screenshot). But apparently our travel combined with extra holiday spending finally caused the banks' fraud system to flag our account, rejecting a $100+ Target purchase a few days after Christmas.

I have Capital One's mobile wallet installed which pushes near-real-time notifications to the lock screen (iOS). I did receive a notice I'd been declined, but no word on why or what to do about it. But luckily the issuer's email system handled that task admirably. Within a few hours I received an excellent email detailing the five most recent charges, and providing a simple "all clear" button that was clickable within the email, a major improvement over issuers who merely tell you there is suspicious activity and make you call or login to find out the details.



This is the best suspicious activity notice I've ever received. Typically, I receive message similar to Capital One's "old" version imploring me to call the bank (see last screenshot). However, there is still room for improvement, especially in the reporting process.

As much as the fraud folks desire a concrete yes/no answer, the real world is often full of gray areas. In this case, I was sure that I'd make all these transactions, but often that's not the case. Sometimes you don't recognize a merchant or your spouse may have made the charge or you simply don't recognize something you may have authorized a while ago. There needs to be a third option here, "I'm not sure." Furthermore, when faced with a list, users should be able to address each transaction individually.

In my case, clearly the Target purchase triggered the red flag. It was a large amount, I rarely shop there, and I'd just flown 2,000 miles from my previous transaction the day before. In reality, the other transactions were pretty meaningless to the fraud detection algorithm. Even if I couldn't remember one of the previous four routine transactions, Capital One wouldn't have wanted to shut my account down. They'd already lost a few dollars on the declined Target transaction, there was no reason to compound that loss with costly calls to customer service to vet the other transactions.

Finally, I'm not a fan of the web pages presented after clicking on the "Everything's OK" or "There's an issue" button (see second and third screenshots). The bank gets points for thanking me for my help, but they forget to apologize for the inconvenience of declining my purchase at Target. It's pretty embarrassing to be standing at the checkout with a basket full of goods while everyone thinks you are a deadbeat.

The webpage responses don't go very far it telling me what to do next. Even if I'd given the all clear, I still have questions. Which of the transactions, if any, were declined? Will the declined transaction go through now that I've said it's OK? And how can I avoid this in the future.

And if I did have issues with one or more of the transactions, the only option is to call the bank, and there isn't even a number supplied. Aren't there self-service options at this point that could save everyone some time?


Suspicious activity email from Capital One (28 Dec 2014)



Webpage after clicking "Everything's OK" above


Webpage after clicking "There's an issue" above


Previous Capital One Fraud Alert (16 Dec 2011)



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