We assume that digitalization is so much a part of our lives that we forget, very easily, that G-mail is only 15 years old today, that the first Iphone with full navigating capabilities only came out in 2007.
Now well over 65% of the population shops and pays bills using their smartphones and that percentage is rising rapidly as specific demographic groups are targeted and brought into the digital age.
We know change is going very fast, faster perhaps than our education systems and our legal frameworks can cope with the implications. So everyone is racing to keep up with the rest. Even so, every now and again, one new advance really throws the cat among the pigeons in such a way that everyone else is obliged to rethink their approach to the customer.
Apple has built on its Wallet and Apple Pay apps to produce a credit card that isn´t a card at all. If you need a physical card, you can get one, a plain titanium square. The application process has been simplified, right off your IPhone.
A personalized card number is created for Apple Card with all data, numbers, dates etc., hidden in the enhanced security system that guarantees protection and privacy. There are no fees associated with Apple Card. The intention is to provide interest rates that are among the lowest in the industry. If a customer misses a payment, they will not be penalized.
Along with the facilities of a credit card comes advice and suggestions about payment options. And, best of all, the icing on the cake, the Apple card has the most attractive rewards program of any that exist. It gives back, immediately, a percentage of every purchase as cash instead of points or rewards in kind. Every time customers use Apple Card with Apple Pay, they will receive 2 percent Daily Cash which they can use immediately. Customers get 3 percent Daily Cash on all purchases made directly with Apple. Talk about keeping customer loyalty!
Apple is partnering with Goldman Sachs and Mastercard to provide the support of an issuing bank and a global payments network. Goldman Sachs traditionally does not provide consumer services. Its first venture into these is leap-frogging right into the immediate future. And all three, Apple, Goldman Sachs and Mastercard are setting this up so that there will be no sharing or selling customer data to third parties for advertising and marketing.
Does this mean that other financial services and card providers will have to follow suit? The answer must be yes, yes and yes again, unless they want to lose customers who can move for the cost of an Iphone - or unless Apple has a major failure in the first months after the launch of the Apple Card. Apple has solved in one all the grouses of customers of financial services. Numerous customer satisfaction surveys have highlighted the areas of dissatisfaction.
Apple seems to have taken note and to have designed the Apple Card to defray all the potential customer points of dissatisfaction in one virtual operation. Even if the Apple card, due out at mid-year, does not live up 100% to the hype surrounding it, it has at least pointed the way that financial services providers will need to think about taking and maybe improving upon.
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Being close to customers, listening to them and converting their demands into concrete actions, not through offers of discounts necessarily but through offers that simplify their lives, is no longer an option.
When competitors arise from outside the market, with a disruptive solution that works for us as wake-up call, it forces us to think and execute quickly.
Do you know the preferences and demands of your users?
Do you personalize your communications?