Magazine article American Banker

Customer Service, Debit Cards' Potential Touted to Small Bankers

Magazine article American Banker

Customer Service, Debit Cards' Potential Touted to Small Bankers

Article excerpt

The 170 community bankers who gathered in St. Louis for the 11th annual bank card conference of the Independent Bankers Association of America heard familiar advice about market imperatives.

In the shadow of the Gateway Arch, the bankers were urged to develop existing card products while maintaining their special strength - customer service.

"Community banks need to respond to the marketplace," said Frances M. Dale, president of Virginia-based Entandem Inc., a marketing and financial services consulting firm.

"Generation X will demand services that provide convenience and utility," she added. "If you don't offer it to them, they will go elsewhere."

* * *

Revisiting a theme of last year's meeting, speakers repeatedly exhorted the community bankers to embrace technology without fear of the larger card issuers.

William Brennan, senior vice president of member relations, MasterCard International, discussed the opportunities chip cards and other technology afford in developing new products that can replace cash and checks.

"We need to find a way to market cards to an entire household," said Mr. Brennan. "The industry hasn't broken the surface of cobranding opportunities, and the growth opportunities in debit cards are five times what can be developed in credit."

* * *

Sales-oriented training and computer literacy should be priorities among bankers, said David Peterson, president and chief executive officer of Goldleaf Technologies, a Hahira, Ga. …

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