BNP Paribas Builds Research News Hub

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Banks are still discovering new services to deliver to customers on tablets. The latest example at Paris-based BNP Paribas is an economic news and information app called EcoNews.

"We have moved from press releases to videos. The way people want to be informed has changed to more of a video format than paper," says Clemente De Lucia, senior economist for BNP Paribas (BNP).

EcoNews offers text, multi-colored graphics, and videos informed by BNP Paribas' research database and internal economic reporting experts. The app provides video news reports, educational videos, regularly updated market intelligence videos and text, access to social networking tools and other content that's included in BNP's existing tablet app. EcoNews is initially available on iPads, with plans to launch an Android app by August. The bank is also looking to use context awareness to further enhance the app's ability to deliver customized information based on who, how and eventually where the app is being used.

The videos, which are available in English and French, are produced by an external partner, but the content that drives the videos is developed by BNP's internal economics team and generally updated weekly, with some longer, less-time-sensitive videos having a longer shelf life. Topics include market reports, general news, economic reports and information about regulations and public policy, as well as market research. The news content links to information about wealth management products, financial planning services, and info on how to contact the bank. There are also links to other research-oriented BNP financial services, such as personal financial management (PFM) tools. Users can also share video and text with followers on social networking sites.

BNP is using a mobile application platform from Mootwin, a Palo Alto and Paris-based mobile commerce tech firm, to run the EcoNews app. That includes design, navigation and the delivery of programming to users' tablets. Mootwin's development architecture includes navigation tools that reside at the firm's server level and are integrated with the bank's back end systems, and a thin device-level layer. This structure is designed to aide in backup and make the addition of new content easier since the bank's underlying systems are integrated with the mobile application platform.

The bank says the app will be available to all customers, but sees it as useful for its network of financial advisors as an educational and information tool that can provide an economic context to the PFM and investment management tools provided by the advisors.

"You can get an idea of how the economic environment is evolving, and after that you get a look at more structural issues, and the impact on your financial relationships," says De Lucia.

The application will also take advantage of context-aware computing capabilities developed by Mootwin. Banks are starting to roll context-aware computing into mobile applications, mostly for location-based services such as finding ATMs or determining if the device is in motion as a trigger to voice services.

BNP Paribas is developing geolocation services that will eventually match content to where the application is being accessed. But it's also using context awareness in a different way, to help customize tablet content for specific users or user groups based on their investment profiles and activities. The activity is tracked by the bank's core system and fed into Mootwin's server, where it can be used in the future to "push" tailored content to the user or user groups. That way, a more active experienced investor can receive different, more advanced, content than a less experienced investor that's new to the market.

"We are able to describe what is going on in an easy way for that user," says De Lucia.

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