"We don't know if the winning technology [for banking and payments combined] will be quick-response codes, near-field communication, or something else," says Badarinath. "We do know that waiting is not an option. We know we have to move."
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Digital Banker of the Year: U.S. Bank's Niti Badarinath

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One of the most forward-thinking innovations to emerge from U.S. Bank this year is Peri, its ecommerce app. The app lets a user read a digital watermark or QR code to quickly purchase an item. Very few banks have created mobile commerce solutions. A few banks have experimented with NFC stickers and chips that customers can use to pay at a retailer, perhaps with an electronic coupon. But an easy to use, trendy shopping app has eluded the industry.

"We know we want to give our customers the ability to have banking and payments in one app," Badarinath says. "We're trying different things. We don't have the foresight to say a year from now everybody will be using QR codes or Apple's wallet or the host card emulation that Visa and MasterCard have."

Peri is one bet U.S. Bank is making on mobile commerce. Another is its collaboration with a large card network on HCE, to see how a bank-branded wallet will work with certain merchants. The bank already has a mobile wallet in which customers can store their credit, debit and prepaid card information. On the mobile banking side, Badarinath aims to build features into the bank's apps that will help with mobile payments, such as biometric authentication, real-time, pre-login balance access and push alerts.

"Smart banks, us included, are making a lot of bets," says Badarinath. Like an outdoor adventure, the surprises happy or otherwise provide a chance to learn and to reboot.

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