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P2P Payments, Mobile Key to Wells Fargo’s Customer Relationship Strategy

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Consumers can turn to a growing number of companies for financial products these days, but as Jamie Moldafsky sees it, everything comes back to relationship building—which Wells Fargo hopes will benefit from peer-to-peer payments and mobile technology.

Moldafsky, the chief marketing officer at Wells Fargo, says the opportunity to forge tight ties with customers matters more than the latest product or the form of one’s business, and gives banks an edge over competitors—from start-ups to retailing giants—when it comes to meeting consumers’ needs.

“I actually do think that part of the opportunity for us is not getting caught up in the notion of bank, and acting like a bank or not like a bank, but in being a trusted advisor,” Moldafsky said in a recent interview at the Financial Services Marketing and Innovation Symposium in New York.

Jamie Modafsky

Jamie Modafsky

Still, the company is looking to expand its clearXchange payment network. In 2011, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase formed clearXchange, a platform that allows customers to send money to one another via a mobile number or email address. “It’s a great win for our customers, because the vast majority of transactions are with those institutions,” said Moldafsky, who adds that the next tier will be to broaden the network to include other financial institutions.

Another priority remains mobile. Wells Fargo has roughly 21 million customers who bank online, including about 8.3 million who access their accounts via smartphones and other mobile devices. Moldafsky says “really underscoring mobile…make sure people know what we have and how we can make their lives easier,” will be an area of focus for the bank.

Moldafsky discussed recently released study that said one in three consumers would consider a mortgage from Walmart, although 81% of consumers still express satisfaction with their primary bank. Traditional banks are also facing competition from the likes of Costco, which offers mortgages, and Amazon, which provides installment loans to merchants.

If there’s any company in a position to influence perceptions of commercial banking, it may be Wells Fargo. The nation’s fourth-biggest bank by assets has more than 70 million customers and serves one in three households in America. The 160-year-old company writes more home and small business loans than anyone, employs 265,000 people and processes roughly four billion transactions a year.

Looking ahead to 2013, Moldafsky says Wells Fargo will focus on deepening relationships with varied groups of customers, including Hispanics, millennials and affluent customers.

“Every customer segment is important but…there are just some key trends in the market, and just making sure that we are relevant and that the services we provide are the ones that are most important” will be a priority, Moldafsky said.

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