Hawaii Bank Hopes Mobile Success Can Turn Data to Dollars

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American Savings Bank's Rick Robel couldn't be happier with the Honolulu bank's launch into the mobile channel: it hit its projected first-year adoption target within the first month.

Robel, the bank's executive vice president of operations, isn't letting up. He plans to integrate customer relationship management and mobile banking to help salespeople and improve service.

For example, the bank hopes to leverage a trove of consumer data for personalized marketing and is using the CRM/mobile integration to allow sales staff to access customer data while interacting with consumers.

"We are looking at what we can do in terms of customer relationship management and how the sales force can access that information," says Robel says.

Mobile banking is maturing, and many experts say a big technology trend for 2013 will be how to monetize the channel. Most banks offer popular mobile banking features, such as remote deposit capture, free. To turn mobile and other remote channels into revenue generators, some banks have started integrating customer relationship management systems to those channels to boost sales and marketing tied to mobile apps.

Wells Fargo, for example, links its ATM and mobile applications to its customer relationship management system as a way to improve service queries and marketing, as well as to maintain consistent content for users who begin a transaction or product search in one venue, such as an ATM or a call center, and continue the session in another, such as a mobile or tablet app. Such functionality has been available for some time at the largest banks and is now spreading to community and midsize regional institutions.

The $4.9 billion-asset American Savings primarily serves Hawaii.

"We can't be a leader in a lot of things, but we can be a fast follower," Robel said during a phone interview late last week. American Savings is among a number of banks that have started programs to increase adoption of mobile banking apps.

Robel envisions the integration of customer relationship management and mobile as a way to arm sales and service staff with more detailed information when discussing the bank's products, using tablets as part of in-person sales sessions. The apparent benefits of mobile will not only aid the sales session in this case, but also tout the larger utility of mobile technology to consumers.

American Savings rolled out its first mobile banking application about a month ago, offering basic account inquiries, account transfers and bill payment. It was among the first banks in Hawaii to deploy mobile remote deposit capture.

Robel did not disclose specific adoption numbers, but said the bank's uptake for the first month was equal to what it hoped to attract for the entire first year.

"The adoption rate has exceeded all expectations," he says.

American Savings plans to add a number of payment-related mobile capabilities in the coming year as it penetrates further into electronic commerce, adding marketing alerts and special offers.

As the bank ramps up, Robel is considering how it can manage the demands on tech resources resulting from mobile. Most of its mobile technology is hosted by Monitise. For the long term the bank is looking into what kinds of cloud structures may prove useful in managing capacity for mobile technology.

"Right now," Robel says, "we have a lot of mobile tech hosted for us" that is not what would generally be considered a cloud, in which "you are tenant on a server that a lot of other companies are using. In terms of moving future mobile tech onto the cloud, we would have to consider issues such as access and security."

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