Posted by Jeevan Jayaprakash

Image source: TechCrunch

In this issue, we look at how the startup, Hustle, uses text messages to rally people, the new challenger to PayPal’s Venmo and Samsung’s recently launched rewards programme.
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Have a great weekend,

Hi Mum! Said Dad

Hustle: mobilising people through text messages

Hustle is a text distribution tool used by the likes of charities, political parties/candidates and protest organisers. All of theses groups have one thing in common — their success is contingent on getting people to act. The Hustle tool can, to some extent, be likened to a mail merge for SMS. It allows organisers to create customised scripts, import phone numbers and assign ‘agents’ to a segment of the recipients. The agents are able to track successful responses and intervene personally if a recipient has further questions regarding the event and its logistics — all through a centralised mobile app.

The CEO of Hustle is Roddy Lindsay, a former Facebook data scientist, so it is safe to say that he knows a thing or two when it comes to engaging people. Having witnessed email conversion rates as low as 1% in his time, Lindsay decided to experiment with personalised text messages and saw engagement rates shoot up beyond 35% as a result. The rest is obviously history.

Hustle’s research shows that 75% of millennials prefer text messages to calls. In fact, the vast majority of millennials won’t even pick up the phone so it is very much a case of losing the battle before it has even begun. What was particularly interesting is that not only do people respond to Hustle’s personalised texts, a significant number of people actually end up engaging in what Hustle has described as “really intimate conversations”. Not to mention the fact that you physically can’t call as many people as you can text — Lindsay claims Hustle is 48X more effective than calls because the response rate is at least 3X more and you can send 16X more texts in the time it takes to make a call.

Bernie Sanders’ campaign team actually used Hustle to great effect in the Democrat primaries in Iowa and in particular Oklahoma, where they defeated Hillary Clinton by a 10-point margin by drawing out young people in their droves. Sanders’ team deliberately left out event details in their initial texts in order to stimulate questions from recipients so that they could start a more natural, human dialogue with prospective voters.

This millennial case study is obviously the most powerful example but there is a case for arguing that this is the ideal way to reach people of almost all ages nowadays, not just millennials. As far as Roddy Lindsay is concerned, “phone call-making should just die”.

More about Hustle here and for more on the story of how Bernie Sanders leveraged Hustle to give Hilary Clinton a real scare see this.

Hustle in action. Image source: TechCrunch

US bank consortium launches Zelle along with ‘behavioural biometrics’ security

A consortium of US banks including JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo have announced the launch of Zelle, a direct challenger to the very popular Venmo. For those of you that are unaware of Venmo, it is a PayPal service which allows users to send and receive money via mobile.

Where Zelle is looking to gain an advantage over Venmo is in the security it offers. The frictionless nature of sending money via Venmo means that if a user’s phone gets into the wrong hands, they could find themselves in a very sticky situation indeed. In order to circumvent this, Zelle will be monitoring the way in which users interact with their mobile product and will be using that information to build a unique profile of a user.

For example, Zelle will monitor user-specific interactions such as the force and accuracy with which a user taps a key or the average speed at which they type. Presumably, a combination of this data along with a reasonable margin of error will be used to make sure that whoever is about to make a transfer is the account holder. The main advantage of using biometric techniques are that they require no user input — no need to use a fingerprint, repeat a phrase or scan your iris. The user profile is built up behind the scenes via repeated usage of Zelle.

The impetus for Zelle’s added security comes from the rise in fraud and data breaches in the banking industry. According to the Breach Level Index, there were 974 data breaches worldwide with over 554m data records lost or stolen in the first half of 2016 (up 30% from the same period a year earlier). Banks realise that they need to be seen to be doing more in order to appease consumers and to deter cyber criminals.

Zelle is expected to launch in the US in 2017 and it may not be long before we see something similar in the UK.

Zelle: The Venmo killer? Image source: Tom’s Guide

Samsung introduces incentives for Samsung Pay users

As we mentioned in our digest a few weeks ago, studies have shown that consumers would be more inclined to use mobile wallets if they received something in return for doing so. Well, it seems Samsung has implemented some of these learnings with the launch of Samsung Rewards in the US.

Samsung Rewards provides users with loyalty points every time they use their Samsung device for a transaction. The accumulated points can be exchanged for Samsung products, gift cards and products from other partner retailers. The Rewards programme will reward based on the frequency of transactions: 5–20 transactions in a month earns a user double points, 20–30 transactions earns a user triple points and 30+ transactions earns a user 4 times the number of usual points. Samsung Rewards will also feature instant prize wins such as trips to Napa Valley and Las Vegas, which are designed to “surprise and delight” customers.

As mentioned in the digest above, there is no real advantage for the average user in using their mobile over their physical card at this moment in time. This has, to some extent, put the brakes on the proliferation of mobile payments. However, now that Samsung has made the first move, it would be surprising if Apple and Android Pay didn’t follow suit with similar offerings of their own.

Samsung did confirm back at the Mobile World Congress in February that Samsung Pay will be launching in the UK in 2016. Now that the Rewards platform is operational, Samsung may well turn its attention to keeping its word — just in time for the hectic festive season.

Samsung Rewards. Image source: Samsung

Originally written as part of Hi Mum! Said Dad’s Weekly Digest.

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