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Wells Fargo banks on mobile with 500M yearly text alerts

Wells Fargo & Co. is reaping the benefits from its mobile-first outlook by revealing that it has sent more than a half-billion SMS and email alerts to consumers’ smartphones, offering information on topics ranging from ATM withdrawals to bank account activity.

An increasing amount of time-strapped individuals are relying on their mobile devices for their financial errands and needs as institutions roll out applications containing the same banking capabilities as their desktop sites offer. However, Wells Fargo may have pinpointed a lucrative niche in sending consumers relevant and timely text updates to remind them to pay balances, manage their money and monitor account activity.

“With 16 million active mobile banking customers, mobile continues to be critically important, and it’s become the primary way in which an increasing number of our customers interact with us daily,” said Brett Pitts, head of digital for Wells Fargo Virtual Channels, San Francisco. “It’s also a key enhancer of all of our other channels, like our contact center, with capabilities like our new Click for Care.

“Once logged into a secure mobile banking session, customers who need banker assistance can click a phone icon, and they’re then taken to an interactive menu that allows us to identify their needs,” he said. “The customer is then connected to the phone banker best suited to assist them.

“By connecting within the secure session, there is no need for the banker to re-authenticate the customer, which really speeds the conversation along for both our customer and our team.”

Eager for information
Wells Fargo’s SMS and email milestone certainly suggests that consumers are eager to receive information if they opt-in for it – which in this case, they have. The financial marketer provides customers with more than a dozen types of alerts they can select to sign up for, therefore tailoring the types of messages to the individual user’s biggest concerns.

The brand recognizes that its customers feel more secure when they have access to timely information letting them know where their finances stand. The ability of receiving these bite-sized pieces of content via mobile while on-the-go is also a big draw, as consumers do not have to sit down to read a lengthy document.

“Alerts are a key component of the mobile banking experience in that they help drive adoption and usage,” said David Albertazzi, senior analyst at Aite Group, Atlanta. “SMS texts and email alerts are the most common mobile delivery methods.

“Many mobile banking solutions include an alerts engine that can deliver text messages (SMS) or email messages (SMTP). Upon receipt, users simply receive and read the notification, or may respond.”

Users may sign up for the mobile alerts by visiting their accounts with the institution and choosing the “Set up/Modify Alerts” button under the “Messages and Alerts” section. They may adjust notification preferences at any time.

Consumers appreciate the convenience of brief text alerts

Customers may select to be notified when a payment due date is imminent, activity occurs on a participating credit card, a deposit, withdrawal or debit purchase exceeds a specified amount or when their account balance rests above or below a pre-stated amount.

The most frequently chosen alerts include updates on withdrawals or deposits, as well as weekly or daily account balance summaries.

Banks that do not offer these types of features to their clientele may find themselves falling behind as the commerce sector turns increasingly more mobile-centric.

“Our customers love the convenience of mobile, and have taken especially to features like mobile deposit, SurePay, Click for Care, and push and text notifications that allow them to better stay on top of their finances,” Wells Fargo’s Mr. Pitts said. “We also recently launched the Spanish version of our app, enabling our Spanish-speaking customers to enjoy an easier, more convenient way of mobile banking.”

Push for mobile
Wells Fargo has been an engaging in a significant push for a mobile-first outlook this year as customers proved to be responsive to banking on smartphones.

In June, Wells Fargo Advisors, a subsidiary of Wells Fargo & Co., brought conversations with clients out of the office and onto mobile as it expanded its Smart2Go tablet application (see story).

The brand also has major plans for 2016.

“We’re going to be rolling out a completely new mobile experience at the beginning of next year, including Touch ID,” Mr. Pitts said. “The new mobile banking will make it even easier for customers to view, pay, and manage their finances using their smart phone, and Touch ID support will enable our customers to register a fingerprint on their iPhone and use that to log into their accounts, rather than using their username and password.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely, editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York