The question Wesabe is asking

Wesabe has an unbelievable product available to anyone who has the facility get get at their transaction data. They have delivered what some of us have thought about for awhile now, financial data and tagging. And they have brought how to use tagging to the easiest method imaginable. Then you have their graphing function, the ability to ‘vote’ on how you think the supplier is, Firefox uploader, browser snapshots, the list goes on. Did I mentioned the social networking aspect of giving financial tips?

So the question is, as a credit union, do you build something like this, which will take time and money and probably be a poor imitation. Or do you say to your members “This is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Here is what we can do to get you going on a truly innovative and valuable service!” But wait, some will say, and so begins the “if we don’t build it others will and we will loose out” discussion starts or “we must build it or it will dilute our brand” discussion continues.

What really should happen is that the member’s data, their financial transactions, should be viewed as their’s, not the banks or credit union’s. They spent the money, and paid for the service, they have every right to do with it as they see fit. And if Wesabe’s service is what they want then we should respond by doing what we can to make it easy for them to do it. And we should work with Wesabe to see how collectively we can serve our members better.

Will this model work? Yes I think it will because a good idea is a good idea is a good idea and you can’t keep something like this off people’s radar screen. Is it a revenue generator? No but does everything we do have to be. It builds a relationship. It assists people in getting a handle on how they spend money. It helps them to save money. It does everything that we have been trying to do, promote common sense and money usage.

As I have said before, banks and credit unions have become something like huge castles with moats around them and the drawbridge up. Then the Wesabians come marching up asking for what is theirs to do what they wish to do with it. We can lower that drawbridge and stop this financial feudilsm that is wasting time and resources for everyone. We need to listen that some have chosen a new financial polity.

BarCampBankSeattle is happening

Next week the BarCampBankSeattle is happening. Jesse Robins has put this together and there are going to be some very interesting discussions given the attendee list. It is the first BarCampBank event to be held in the United States. O’Reilly Radar, Trabian, Wesabe, Currency and the list goes on. There will be a good mix of operators and pundits, all associated with financial institutions.
One of the questions that keeps me awake at times is how will banking be able to augment their positions and strategies with the use of Web 2.0 energies and the Social Media wave? Banking has been rigid in so much of what it has done in the past. There is always the cover of privacy and secrecy when discussing financial matters with people. Will FIs create and be able to use these new key imperatives? Wesabe is the closest service that fulfills these elements. There is always the view of how the product will be balanced (social vs privacy/security) and how will the member/customer take to it.
Seattle may be the start of some new and innovative ways of how to bank. And that is long overdue.

Mitch Joel from Twist Image presented Social Media Marketing and Web 2.0 today.

It started at 8:00 am and went to a little before 5:00 pm. It was a long day but it only seemed like a few hours. If you have never heard or seen Mitch Joel do yourself a favour and don’t miss him. This person has a passion with a capital ‘P’. He explains, teaches, provokes and doesn’t always agree with the audience but that passion shows every single minute. He is punctual and that again is with a capital ‘P’.
Of course the overhead wasn’t working at the beginning but we all received a bound handout of the 281 page presentation. These were not your typical PowerPoint bullet point ‘Captains of Industry’ presentation pages. And so we started without the tech apparatus and you didn’t feel you were missing anything. This presentation had a lot of punch with liberal use of the net and videos. He punctuated the necessary emphasis with choice language. If there was an easy way to make a point Mitch found it. When you came away you knew you had something to chew on for a long time. You can see the course outline at IAB Canada here.
What made this presentation different than the plethora of tech courses always offered? You always felt he was talking directly to you. Even if what he was presenting was already known, he made it feel ‘new’. We could have spent another day just in discussion about all that was presented. So when does the level two course on Social Media Marketing take place? We will all be back. And like you said Mitch, this is just the beginning.

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Social networking et al

Ron Shelvin has a great post initiated by Tim McAlpine (with comments). I commented on the entry and wanted to expand on it here.

First some clarity. Being cognisant of the person behind the message and that further communication is usually necessary will keep a clear focus on the value of social networking. Whether this takes further entries (such as this) a telephone call or a personal visit it depends on the message and the circumstance. A quick example.

Attending Gnomedex a few years ago and recent NorthernVoices you realize a true advantage of where the cutting edge is going. A keynote or seminar is presented and while the presentation is happening Flickr is being uploaded with pictures, blogs are being posted to, wikis are updated and the electronic interaction is almost overwhelming. All of these entries contribute to the presentation. Everyone has their laptop open and the bandwith is phenomenal. You can begin to see who the person is behind the name tag and it is a unique experience. This social networking has now expanded with YouTube and Twitter etc. and I daresay is only the beginning.

Maybe I should have said human networking instead of social networking but I didn’t want to divorce one from the other. Senior execs need to be challenged, big time. Remember ‘customer relationship management’ and what that has come to mean or MIS, ‘management information systems’? Ron is right — we do need to take some of the confusion out of the term. Social networking as it applies to technology is a great unknown by most and that is really too bad because by beginning to use it, by taking advantage of it, we as credit unions, which is the credit union members, can begin to re-create what financial service is.

So what will this collective communication bring us? The power to listen and listen better. One of the problems with listening is that it does take time. Relationships are created by human interaction. One universal concern we need to listen to is what people think about line ups. They hate them. Everybody hates them. They waste time. People don’t want to converse with anyone when they have been standing in line for 10 minutes waiting. They now want to get the business done and move on. If they didn’t have to wait they would spend those few extra found minutes talking and we could then explore those needs and wishes that would seed innovation. But some executive think success is measured by the length of the line up. “We must be busy, great! Just look at that lineup.” Social networking will put concerns like this right in front of us for all to see. The challenge is what are we going to do with them? Will be act, re-act or ignore?

Those that have attempted to build their organizations on vision and values will readily embrace these challenges social networking offers. Those that don’t need to maybe do something else. Something happened with Web 2.0/Enterprise 2.0 and Ron, Tim and William have got it. What about the others?