Transparency

Transparency

In an era when information of all kinds is instantly available online, requested fiscal data from finance officers is expected at the snap of a finger. Greater awareness and access of information, through technology and social media, forces finance departments to be ready and able to provide a new level of transparency. This is especially true when it comes to taxes, budgets, and expenditures.

Whether it be the elected officials to whom you report, the media, the public, or your own employees, the expectation for accurate, real-time information has escalated.

The pressure to provide increased transparency—with fewer resources and in a more immediate time-frame to do so—creates greater stress to those in the government and Higher Ed. sectors. These areas are under more intense scrutiny due to new and stricter regulations, enhanced media coverage, and ongoing tax/tuition pressures.

When it comes to accountability, being able to report the level of cash an entity has on hand may be more difficult than one may think. With several banking relationships and dozens of bank accounts, an entity’s ability to tabulate and chart all cash can seem to be an overwhelming task. However, given that it is the taxpayers’ cash one is talking about, the need to be timely and proactive is imperative.

At three+one®, our cashvest® liquidity analysis and data can provide you with a complete picture of all your cash at the click of your mouse. Having such information at your fingertips gives you the confidence you need when difficult questions are asked—and transparency is expected.

The request for information today is more demanding than ever, but it doesn’t have to be a dreaded task. With our help, you can have the information you need at the moment you need it.  You will not have to divert precious time and labor to the calls for transparency that seem to be ever-increasing in current times.

The Technology Edge

The Technology Edge

One of the underlining reasons for the merging of large regional banks is to provide a scale of efficiency: less duplication of risk and compliance overhead, coupled with the ability to build greater, stronger & secure sources of technology for its organization and client base.

As I mentioned a couple blogs ago, this trend of regional banks merging is only just beginning. Where will this leave the smaller Community Banks? The answer is at a real disadvantage, especially when it comes to larger institutional clients like public entities and higher Ed & healthcare organizations.

The Technology Edge

Electronic banking, fraud protection security, and near field technology conveniences – just to name a few – are already being offered by the large banks. They have either built these systems internally or partnered up with fintech companies, requiring large sums of capital investment.

Community banks work with third-party vendors in providing some level of technology support. This comes at a hefty price and can be tough to calculate when pricing product offerings, especially for banking services RFPs.

As a result, the trends I see developing over the next couple of years will be:

1) Community banks will primarily focus on retail consumer banking, being managed out of a local branch. Banking will remain local.

2) Technology will be in the forefront of large banks, including the new entities formed by merging banks.

3) Larger banks will continue to partner with fintech companies to innovate new levels of security and the transfer of funds, like blockchain.

At threeplusone®, we remain a leader in tracking the innovation of bank technology and providers. It is important to be aware of these trends and the sources of such technology, so they can be applied where necessary and incorporated into banking services RFPs.

Technology is moving at the speed of light, and the ability to stay informed is essential in making your life simpler for you and those you serve. Contact us at threeplusone® to ensure you’re capitalizing on the efficiencies and gains financial technology can bring you.

Being Mobile

The United States is one of the most mobile countries in the world; we move around a lot. America’s interstate highway system transformed our country. Our economy greatly benefited by the ease with which goods could be moved from one part of this vast country to another. More than just moving goods, we also enjoy the freedom of driving our cars and going places. There is so much to see and being mobile has allowed us to do that.

 

Being Mobile

 

Now we are on the verge of a new mobile evolution. The ability to comparison shop, find deals, and make purchases digitally has been around for a while. Doing all that on smaller screen mobile devices (e.g., smartphones and tablets) is taking this further and becoming more mainstream. A report was issued earlier this month that noted that 25% of people who do their banking digitally now do it exclusively on mobile devices. Another report noted that one in five people no longer carry cash, and that 46% of consumers rarely use cash for purchases. That is a significant change from just five years ago.

I wonder how this will impact our banking and purchasing behavior in the next five years. The youngest of the “Millennial Generation” will be seniors in high school this coming school year. So in five years all millennials will be in the workforce, or really close to it. You can bet this tech-savvy generation will continue to influence digital and mobile banking and commerce.

This evolution will not be complete until some of the most serious concerns, chief among them being security, are resolved. Financial institutions and financial technology companies (FinTechs) are diligently working on this every day. Single-click solutions and user ease are making mobile activity more attractive, as long as we have comfort that our information is secure.

Yet one other great challenge exists. We, as consumers, hate fees associated with our transactions. We pay them when we must, but any additional overt fee is a deterrent to making mobile purchases. Fees must be embedded because if we see an add-on fee, we will find another way to make the transaction.

This brings us back to you—public entities, higher education institutions, and not-for-profit organizations. Most recognize it is expensive to absorb fees if the constituents are not assessed a fee. Are there not ways other than using the now common “convenience fee,” which only keeps the clear majority of constituents from making payments electronically? The answer is “Yes,” and we will discuss these in another blog.

Know this: if you want to overcome the inefficiencies associated with accepting cash, checks, and in-person payments, then you need to look at alternatives.

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See Us At These Upcoming Events and Conferences:
Ohio GFOA – September
GFOA SC – October
PA GFOA – October

Bank Innovation 2017

I recently attended the Bank Innovation 2017 conference, held in San Jose, CA. From my perspective, this year’s conference had a completely different tenor from the one a year ago. Something had changed over the past year, but it was something that we have been talking about at various conferences for over a year.

Bank Innovation 2017

Now we are starting to see it happen.

For much of the past three or four years when you read a blog or news article about startup financial technology (FinTech) companies, it had been in light of bank disintermediation or disrupting banks. As exciting as that sounds to startup companies—and those that may not favor the banks—it had always been seen as a herculean task.

At the various conferences at which we have presented, we opined that the more likely scenario would have banks watching FinTech developments and, when the time was right, either purchase or partner with the firm whose FinTech products and services appeared to have longevity and would likely appeal to broad consumer groups.

This indeed is what had changed from the 2016 conference. Big banks had a major part of the agenda this year. No longer was the discussion around bank disintermediation, but rather around bank partnerships. Small FinTech startups no longer looked at banks as the Goliath to defeat but rather as potential partners, customers, and vehicles to make the innovations they’ve created broadly available to large consumer markets.

Bank Innovation 2017

The banks themselves recognized the need for small FinTech partners, because they recognized that they are indeed large institutions, with large risk/compliance, purchasing, and legal departments that slow the rate of innovation internally.

The other significant change was a shift from the innovation hype itself (the “let’s run and look at every new thing being thought of” mindset) to practical, real solutions that have the longevity needed to change how people transact financially.

This was exciting. I left the conference thinking that we are indeed getting closer to a time when checks will no longer play a significant role in our financial services—perhaps even being eliminated entirely. For the first time, I left with a sense of urgency, feeling that those organizations that do not proactively manage their way through the changing landscape of payment technology will one day wake up and have it forced upon them.

That will be an expensive and painful reality.

Early Adopter to Early Majority

Venmo, Loop Pay, Apple Pay—been there, done that, right? But most people haven’t yet. I used Apple Pay the other night at Kohl’s. Certainly I could not be the first person to do that, yet the cashier was surprised. She claimed to never have seen it used before. And that is what surprised me.

 Fintech Early Adopter to Early Majority

We attend and make presentations at various conferences around the country. One question asked during many of these meetings is “When will mass adoption of FinTech payment technology take place?” When you hear people say, “I have never seen that used before”, it makes it tough to claim this new technology has become mainstream.

 Fintech Early Adopter to Early Majority

That leads us to look at the stages of adoption. The first stage is made up of innovators; they are always out in front and love the cutting edge, even if that cutting edge doesn’t always work as intended.

Then you have the early adopter stage. That is where we are with many of the exciting payment applications that exist today. Many in the younger generation have moved in and are happy to use the latest technology.

The next group of people will be in the early majority. It takes time to get to this stage because it’s hard for people to change the way they’ve always done things. Research shows people trust a brick and mortar bank. People trust checks, even though the highest fraud still occurs with checks. These same people fear electronic payment solutions are more vulnerable to hackers.

Nevertheless, those who track FinTech usage say the move from early adopters to the early majority has already begun. More and more people are asking themselves “Why didn’t I try this sooner?” If you have tried Apple Pay, Loop Pay, Venmo, or any of the other options out there, you will never want to go back to chip and whatever—it just takes way to long and my signature looks terrible on the small screen!

What does all this mean for your organization?

Once again we ask if you are prepared to take electronic payments from people in the format they’d prefer to use? Will you require them to make a payment in an inefficient and more expensive way because your organization falls further and further behind the times? What efficiencies will you gain by becoming fully and exclusively capable to make and receive payments electronically?

Bottom line, as the transition from early adopters to early majority begins, you need to prepare your organization to be in the new mainstream.

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We Hope to See You at our Upcoming Presentation:

GFOA of SC – October 16 – 19
North Country NY GFOA – October 20th
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A Flick of the Wrist

At three+one, we strive to keep you up to date on all trends that impact you, whether it be financial technology, banking regulations or cash management practices. Please note that I wrote the blog below back in September of last year. Now that our prediction has come to fruition, we want to revisit that blog. Two weeks ago, Fitbit, Inc. (NYSE:FIT), the leader in the connected health and fitness market, announced it had purchased the wearable payment assets from Coin, a Silicon Valley consumer electronics and financial technology company, to create a universal credit card replacement device.

 

A Flick of the Wrist

By Joe Rulison

September 15, 2015

A Flick of the Wrist

The world of banking is changing, just as the world of entertainment has. Over the last two decades we have all moved from the VHS cassette to DVD disks and now to “smart” technology–using computers, phones, and tablets for our music, movies, TV shows, and video games.

Going forward, access to money will be quicker, less expensive, and either right at your fingertips or at a flick of the wrist. Bank tellers and ATMs will be viewed as archaic as the bulky old VHS cassette tape, the credit card will be compared to the old CD-ROM disk, while smart phones and wristwatch/bands will become the norm. The development and rapid adoption of the “Fitbit®” style of wristband–used today to monitor our daily health and activities–will be the next direction of technology for conducting daily banking operations. The swipe of the wristband will become commonplace within the next three years.

The change in banking will not stop there, so the need to stay on top of these trends and adapt quickly to them will be important–because your customers and taxpayers will be asking for it and expecting it.