Chicago (February 8, 2010)—Though the recession has likely dealt its worst blows, many banks still face challenges. Government regulations, new taxes and limitations on activity may impact the industry soon, so Mintel Comperemedia, which provides direct marketing competitive intelligence, forecasts five major changes for banks in 2010.
“Based on evidence from recent direct marketing, I see waves of change ready to wash through the banking industry. From the fall of free checking to the rise of comprehensive banking rewards programs, banks seem poised to make 2010 a year of innovations. The biggest challenge will be finding new opportunities for revenue,” states Susan Wolfe, vice president of financial services at Mintel Comperemedia.
The end of “totally free” in checking direct marketingIt’s been a marketing mantra, but this year, the cry of “free checking” will start to fade. In 2009, fewer than half of checking direct mail offers promoted free checking, down from three-quarters in 2007-2008. Susan Wolfe explains: “With pending regulations on overdraft fees, banks risk losing a major revenue source. Charging fees on checking is one way to recoup income.” Some banks may implement monthly fees, while others will let customers decide which perks are worth paying for, similar to the “Build to Order” checking account from BBVA Compass.
More comprehensive rewards programsWith the decline of free checking, Mintel Comperemedia expects an increase in rewards checking and more specifically, rewards banking. As financial institutions look for ways to appeal to new clients and make current customers more loyal and profitable, they’ll start offering rewards for more than just debit use. Capital One, for example, introduced reward checking in late 2009, linking to its credit card rewards program so customers could earn points faster.
Programs designed to increase depositsAnother way banks will try to increase revenue in 2010 is by creating automatic account builder products that boost deposits. Leading players Bank of America and Wachovia already feature innovative savings programs—“Keep the Change” and “Way2Save”—and Capital One has just launched “SmartCents” checking. Deposit-building accounts get customers invested in multiple products, while helping banks secure more deposits.
More aggressive debit card marketingMintel Comperemedia has seen direct mail decline across financial services categories, but debit card volume remains strong at nearly 67 million offers in 2009. “I expect we’ll see more aggressive debit card marketing this year because banks are using debit fees to increase revenue. Direct mail may not increase, but I expect to see more cash incentives and other perks that encourage debit card usage,” comments Susan Wolfe.
Cash incentives increase and expandCash incentives are a hot direct marketing tactic for checking accounts, appearing in most offers. In 2010, cash incentives will grow even more enticing. Mintel Comperemedia has already seen $200 and higher from Capital One and Key Bank. Watch for banks to start using cash incentives for other types of deposit accounts too.
View more 2010 banking industry predictions on Mintel Comperemedia’s blog: www.comperemedia.com/blog/ 

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