by Ron Daly
A business associate was telling me a crazy story just the other day. He was holding out his credit card to pay for lunch and I noticed it was a shiny, newly-issued card.
"Just get that card?" I asked.
"Yeah," he said, glumly. I was confused.
"Why do you sound so sad about it? You just got a brand new card."
"This is my fourth issue of this card," he said. "Our account information has been compromised four times now."
You could've knocked me over with a feather. Four times?! He explained that the first time, the card was cloned and used to make several cash withdrawals up and down the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The second time it yielded no charges, but the bank reissued the card to be on the safe side, owing to a hacking attempt they had suffered. The third time the card was issued was because of the Target breach. The fourth was related to another internal breach that occurred recently.
What was so shocking about the most recent reissue, he told me, was how quickly it happened. The card company called his wife on a Friday to tell them about the breach and the reissue. Their cards were deactivated as early as Friday afternoon.
On Sunday morning, there was a knock at their front door. A postal worker (yes, from the Post Office...yes, that Post Office) handed him an envelope. Inside was a new set of cards from the bank.
My original surprise at the number of times their account was compromised was replaced by my surprise at the speed and efficiency exhibited by the issuing bank. Wow, a three day turnaround on new cards? And hand-delivered on a weekend? On a Sunday?
After lunch was over, I checked my messages on my iPhone and saw that some of my apps were due for an update. I noticed one app that I'd updated only a few short days ago. Between that and my friend's "four card monte", I started really thinking about where technology is taking us: toward a hot swappable life.
If you're not familiar with the idea of "Hot Swappable" hardware, think about a USB device. You don't have to unplug or power down your computer to plug in a USB device; you can use it while the computer's still running. Expand that notion to your phone. Your apps don't need the phone to be powered down to upgrade; sometimes, you don't even have to close the app that's being upgraded.
Bringing those concepts to finance is very interesting to me. Each year, the time between your purchase and the debit being reflected on your account gets shorter and shorter. Card companies are looking to implement Chip-and-PIN as soon as October of next year to improve security. User-to-user money exchanges are becoming more prominent. People are starting to understand the value of data backups.
Your phone gets dropped in a toilet? No worries - just download the contents again from your online account. Your computer gets fried in a lightning storm? Piece of cake - get a new computer and backup from an external disk. Your card information gets compromised? Don't worry, we'll get you some new cards right away. Heck, in another few years, we won't bother mailing new cards. The number will change electronically, instantly.
"Don't slow down. Don't even stop. Keep moving, we'll come through." It's a lofty promise, but I think it's where we're heading. Can you bring that same level of consistency to your members?
Better start thinking about how you can make it happen.