Banking Mobile & Online

BillGuard goes freemium with integrated credit monitoring

BillGuard founders Yaron Samid and Raphael Ouzan.
Written by Jim Bruene

Jim Bruene looks at the recent changes BillGuard has made to its app, including the facility to protect users from identity theft.

We are always on the lookout for digital fee income opportunities, and if I got a nickel for every one of them I’ve ever found, I’d have about a buck at this point. Fees in US online banking are rarer than the (not-so) mythical fintech unicorn, and mobile banking fees are nonexistent outside a few remote deposit fees. However, last week, BillGuard demonstrated a promising new avenue for incremental fee income: integrated mobile identity theft alerts, resolution and insurance (see inset).

Actual credit report access isn’t included, but BillGuard says it’s coming soon. The service is mobile only, and the company currently has no plans to add it to the desktop version. The credit and fraud monitoring is powered by CSIdentity (CSID), an Austin-based firm that says it powers 80% of the retail identity theft protection industry. The company, founded in 2006, has raised $36m in equity (mostly in 2010) and $6m in debt.

How much does BillGuard cost?

The service is value-priced at $2.99 a month for the single bureau Pro version, or $6.99 a month for the 3-bureau Ultimate. In comparison, most ID protection services are in the $15-20 a month range (Experian charges $15.95 a month for a private-labeled version called ProtectMyID with BillGuard). Founder Yaron Samid says BillGuard provides essentially the same third party monitoring as the $30 a month offering from Lifelock for a fourth of the cost. And with BillGuard, users get credit/debit card transaction monitoring (powered by Yodlee) for free.

BillGuard premium benefits include:

  • Credit bureau monitoring (three bureaus in Ultimate service, one in Pro service).
  • Identity restoration services (via call center help).
  • 24/7 call center support.
  • Lost wallet recovery.
  • Social security number fraud alerts (Ultimate service only).
  • Black market alerts (Ultimate only).
  • $1m insurance (Ultimate only).

Cardholders are already looking to their smartphones to stay informed of problems in real-time (case in point, BofA just integrated fraud alerts into its mobile app), so it makes sense to deliver extra protection services in-app. Although there is stiff competition from free ad-supported versions such as Credit Karma, we believe integrated protection services are a logical, fee-based upgrade for mobile banking customers.

This article is reproduced with kind permission. Some minor changes have been made to reflect BankNXT style considerations. You can read the original article here.

About the author

Jim Bruene

After developing the first major PFM-based online banking program at US Bancorp in the early 1990s, Jim Bruene went on to found two companies in the space: Online Banking Report and the Finovate conference series. He has been writing and geeking out on digital financial services nearly every day for more than 20 years and is currently Principal of BUX Advisors, a fintech UX/UI consultancy, as well as continuing to help guide content at Finovate events.

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