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Fifth Third Bancorp Archives

Feature Friday: Fifth Third Combines Debit & Credit on DUO Card

By Jim Bruene on January 4, 2013 3:31 PM | Comments

image Transactional banking is fairly straightforward. There are electronic payments, ATM withdrawals, debit card payments, credit card charges, and checks.

When a technology comes along that offers to combine three of those in a familiar form factor (plastic card), you would think it would catch quickly. 

But combined credit/debit cards have not gained much of a following yet. With one big exception: Fifth Third Bank.

In 2011, the Cincinnati-based bank, the 15th largest U.S. retail bank with $120 billion in assets, launched a combined credit/debit card called DUO. According to American Banker this week, "(DUO) has recently accounted for about 25% of new credit card accounts" at the bank.

My take: That may or may not be a large number depending on the bank's overall card marketing efforts, but it's a good indication that there is at least some consumer demand for the so-called hybrid card. Personally, I stopped carrying an ATM card years ago, so I would love having ATM access added to the credit cards I tote around. I would even pay a modest fee for the convenience (note 2).  

True, the mobile wallet holds the promise of combining everything into one grand app. However, it's a long, long road to mass adoption. Seventeen years into online banking, it's still used regularly at less than 60% of U.S. households (note 3).

So bring on the hybrid cards, but make sure there is also a killer mobile app supporting them.

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Fifth Third landing page for its combo DUO card (link)

Fifth Third landing page for its combo DUO card

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Notes:
1. It's been 17 years since Web access was first launched by Wells Fargo (May 1995). Dial-up online banking predates that by more than a decade, but it was used by such a small group that it doesn't really rate a mention.
2. "Modest" would be in the $1/mo neighborhood, unless there more features were added.
3. Source is our annual forecast (subscription, Jan 2012) which we are in the process of updating and will be available in a few days. 

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Holiday Website Promos at the Top-20 Banks

By Jim Bruene on December 24, 2012 11:43 AM | Comments

In my annual look at holiday offerings from major banks, I found that Scrooge still roams the halls at many of the big names. Only eight of the 20 largest U.S. banks are using holiday-themed promotions or graphics (note 1). That's one more than last year, but still two less than 2010.

As usual, PNC Bank is the exception with their two-decade long holiday CPI (Christmas present index). BB&T, Comerica and Fifth Third are also festive this year with gift card promotions supported by seasonal graphics. And US Bank, Citi, Key and Regions Bank used some holiday imagery.   

The scrooge list: top-20 banks with no holiday promotions or graphics on Dec. 20): 
Bank of America, Bank of the West (BNP Paribas), Capital One, Chase, Citizens (RBS), Harris Bank (BMO), HSBC, ING Direct (Capital One), SunTrust, TD Bank, Union Bank (Mitsubishi UFJ), Wells Fargo

Following is a quick overview of the promotions, including a 1-to 5-bulb rating.

Previous year-end holiday posts: 2011 (big banks), 2011 (CUs/community banks), 2009 part 1, 2009 part 2, 2007, 2006, 2006, 2004

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Big banks in the holiday spirit
(rated 1 to 5 bulbs; screenshots from Thursday, Dec 20)

PNC Bank

  • Gift Hunt tied to its Christmas CPI (based on the song 12 Days of Christmas)
  • Visa Gift Card promo (in rotation of four homepage promotions)

Score: imageimageimageimageimage

Hompage: PNC is leading with its 12 days of Christmas price index

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PNC Bank microsite with gift hunt link

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Also running gift card promo in rotation

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BB&T (20 Dec 2012)

  • Holiday themed graphic featuring mobile check deposit
  • Small ad for gift cards

imageimageimageimage

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Fifth Third

  • Rotation of three holiday themed promotions
    -- Holiday billpay sweeps
    -- New Years savings promo
    -- Gift cards

imageimageimageimage

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Comerica

  • Prominent gift card promo across page and in lower-left corner

imageimageimageimage

image

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Key Bank

  • Holiday graphic, but no product promotion

imageimage

image

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Citibank

  • Toy shopping background image

imageimage

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US Bank

  • Pitch for online banking, convenient while shopping

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Regions Bank

  • Small saving money tips

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Notes:
1. Observations taken between 2pm and 3pm Pacific on Thurs Dec 20 from Seattle IP address, Chrome browser with no cookies
2. Animation from http://www.millan.net/anims/christmas.html#

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Card-Linked Offers in the Wild: Bank of America, Capital One and Fifth Third

By Jim Bruene on June 10, 2012 9:36 PM | Comments (1)

We are starting to see more card-linked offers (aka merchant-funded rewards) in the wild:

  • imageBank of America: Consultant and former bank exec Tom Noyes showed off his BofA offers, BankAmeriDeals powered by Cardlytics, on his FinVentures blog earlier this week.
  • Capital One: For the past four weeks, I've been receiving FreeMonee offers from Capital One (see screenshot below).
  • Fifth Third Bank: I don't know how long it's been there (the service was announced in late Feb), but today I noticed that Fifth Third has a link up on its homepage to Prewards, the edo Interactive-powered rewards programs.

Bottom line: Card-linked rewards are great for consumers and banks, and hopefully they will prove to be equally valuable for the merchants who pay for the whole thing. If so, it could usher in a whole new era of ad-supported banking (note 1). In the meantime, it makes for awesome Finovate demos (note 2).

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Fifth Third homepage features Prewards under "Personal | Bank" navigation (8 June 2012)

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Prewards landing page (link)

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Capital One weekly email with five new offers (1 June 2012)
Note: Offers are typically good for 2 weeks after email received.

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Notes:
1. We wrote about merchant-funded rewards in our Online Banking Report (Feb. 2011, subscription).
2. We covered the the best new products at FinovateSpring 2012 in our most recent Online Banking Report (May 2012, subscription).

Comments (1)

Debit Card Overdraft Protection: 2 Steps Forward, 1.9 Back

By Jim Bruene on July 13, 2010 5:55 PM | Comments

image So far, I'm underwhelmed with the industry's online marketing response to the new opt-in debit card OD protection regulations. I expected to see new pricing models transforming small overdrafts into a value-add for debit card users, rather than the onerous penalty they had become over the past few years.

On the positive side, the elimination of OD charges for small transactions is a good first step. Three of the five FIs in our mini-survey have dropped fees on ODs of less than $5 (PNC and GTE Federal) or $10 (U.S. Bank). And Wells even makes a bit of a game out of it: Customers who cover the OD during the same day incur no fee.

And Bank of America has just thrown in the towel on the whole notion, running full-page ads (p. A11 in today's WSJ; Overdraft Control landing page) saying they'll just deny any attempt to overdraw via debit card. The retail giant joins Citibank and ING Direct, which already followed the same approach.

But financial institutions are missing an opportunity here. Take Wells Fargo, for example. When I ran across the bank's new homepage ad for debit card OD protection (see first screenshot), I expected to click through and find a novel take on the new federally mandated opt-in requirement (see second screenshot).

Wells does a good job explaining how the new rules benefit customers (the two steps forward): 

  • The bank's website copy is understandable and nicely outlines the lower-cost credit line, and savings account transfer options are offered
  • The toll-free number to sign up is prominent, although where's the online signup option? 
  • Great to see online and mobile balance-tracking tools offered up to help avoid overdrafts in the first place
  • My favorite: Customers are allowed to cover the overdraft during the same day and avoid the charge

But much of that uptick in consumer goodwill is negated when you get to the pricing:

  • Debit card overdrafts are $35 each, with a maximum of 4 per day, or a $140 daily penalty if you opt in and make a mistake coffee-shop (or more likely bar-) hopping some weekend.

In a spot check of other financial institutions, it's clear that Wells Fargo is far from alone in the $30 per item price range:

  • US Bank will charge $10 per overdraft of $20 or less and $33 for all others; it will charge for up to 3 ODs and 3 returned items for up to 6 per day; there's a $25 fee if you don't pay back within a week, but no charge for any item that results in less than $10 in total negative balance.
  • Fifth Third Bank will charge $25 for the first overdraft each year, $33 for the next three, then $37 each after that; maximum of 10 per day; $8 per day after the third day it's not paid back; no OD charge if negative balance is $5 or less.
  • PNC Bank charges $36 per item up to 4 per day, plus $7/day the account is overdrawn for a maximum of 14 days.
  • GTE Federal Credit Union is charging $29 each, with no charge on under-$5 items (blog post, Facebook post)

I just don't see customers being too pleased with the price/value here. Wouldn't customers, and shareholders, be better served with a value-based pricing strategy? How about $5 each for an under-$100 mistake? Or follow the telecom model and sell debit card overdraft protection as a $4.95/mo subscription.

By my simple math, a million customers paying $5/mo is a whole lot more revenue than a few thousand paying $35 a pop. Then there are all the side benefits: customer goodwill, reduced customer service headaches, positive word-of-mouth, and the PR/marketing value of making debit overdrafts into a real service.

Debit card OD link on Wells Fargo homepage (13 July 2010)

Wells Fargo homepage showing debit card OD ad

Landing page (link)
Click to enlarge

Wells Fargo debit overdraft landing page

image Note: Upper-right graphic from Horizons North Credit Union, which is charging $25 per item, with no limit on the number. The opt-in ad is a huge part of its current homepage (inset, click to enlarge).

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Fifth Third Bank Bundles Free Credit Report Monitoring & Identity Theft Protection into Checking Accounts

By Jim Bruene on September 2, 2009 4:21 PM | Comments (1)

imageChecking account profits are being attacked on several fronts. Near-zero short-term interest rates have destroyed the profitability of the balances. Regulators and activists are putting pressure on penalty fees. And consumers are loath to pay monthly charges for what's been positioned as a free service for so long.

So how is it that Fifth Third Bank is able to bundle a service into its checking account that typically costs consumers $12 or more per month? They are bringing back the monthly fee (see note 1), charging either $7.50 or $15 per month for a so-called package account (see options below). It's a strategy right out of Marketing 101: figure out what customers want, then build the  product, package it right, promote it well, and price it for the value delivered.

I believe Fifth Third has taken the right tack with its checking accounts, though it should go even further (see analysis). The bank offers two non-interest checking account bundles (PDF comparison here), neither of which are free of charge no matter how high the balance (note 2). Instead of offering fee waivers, the bank has bundled full-service three-bureau credit report monitoring and identity theft services powered by Affinion (link to Fifth Third Identity Alerts). And the monitoring is available for BOTH names on a joint checking account (note 3). 

  • Secure Checking at $7.50/month, comes with free credit report
    monitoring and identity theft protection (valued at $9.95/month per person)
  • Gold Checking at $15/month, comes with the same free ID protection &
    monitoring plus free nationwide ATM access

Analysis of Secure Checking
imageNow more than ever, customers are craving security and safety in all things financial (see yesterday's post). Bundling identity theft/credit report monitoring in checking accounts is an excellent way to address customer concerns AND differentiate your account in the marketplace. And naming it Secure Checking helps drive home the key benefit.

I like what the bank has done. It would be even better if it highlighted more of its current security features available in mobile and Internet banking (note 4):

  • Email alerts
  • Mobile text alerts
  • Secure storage of estatements
  • Transaction monitoring for fraud and error
  • Other security protections as outlined on its security page
And down the road, they could enhance the account with additional features such as (note 5): 
  • Out-of-band authentication via text message
  • Disposable credit/debit account numbers
  • Long-term (7+ years) secure transaction archives
  • Enhanced fraud protection guarantees
  • Dedicated security reps on call 24/7 to help out in the case of a suspected problem
  • Software and tools to safeguard online banking (e.g., Trusteer, Authentium, Check Point)

Fifth Third Bank non-interest checking accounts (link, 2 Sep 2009)

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Secure Checking landing page

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Notes:
1. Ref: Is This the End of Free Checking?, SmartMoney Magazine, 31 Aug, by Kelli B. Grant
2. The bank does offer an interest-bearing checking account with its $15 monthly fee waived with a $2,000 average balance in checking or $20,000 across all deposit and investment products. The bank also has a free non-interest checking account option.
3. I'm not sure the bank gets enough mileage out of covering BOTH account holders to justify the additional costs. To improve profits, the bank should consider a modest additional fee (approximately $5/mo) to cover joint account holders. 
4. These benefits are hidden behind a tab that most consumers, including myself on my first two passes, will likely miss (see second screenshot above).
5. For more info on how to package security benefits into your services, refer to the following Online Banking Reports: Marketing Security (June 2005) and New Techniques for Securing Online Banking (Sep 2008).

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New Finance Products and Services

By Jim Bruene on February 12, 2006 12:22 PM | Comments

This week's new products and services

Continue reading "New Finance Products and Services" »

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Financial Mergers and Acquisition Update - Fifth Third, Bottomline and more

By Jim Bruene on January 25, 2006 1:32 PM | Comments

This week, Bottomline Technologies, Fifth Third Bancorp, and Payment Processing Inc. were all buying.

Continue reading "Financial Mergers and Acquisition Update - Fifth Third, Bottomline and more" »

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