In the age of wearable technology, many people who own a smartwatch use it to count their steps, pay bills, listen to music, or do other nifty tasks while they are on the go.
Nicole Milnes used hers to stop a potential fraud against her company.
Earlier this year, the accounting manager for Deschutes Brewery, an Oregon-based craft brewery, received a fraud alert on her Apple Watch®1 through CEO Mobile®, a business-banking app from Wells Fargo. Someone had tried to compromise her company and one of its vendors.
Milnes quickly contacted her bank and discovered that an unknown perpetrator had changed the name on a check that Deschutes had made payable to the vendor. In a matter of minutes, she worked with the bank to notify the vendor and stop the fraud in its tracks.
“It’s amazing that now I can get those fraud notifications immediately,” she said. “I’m usually all over the place for work — at meetings, in the brewery, or elsewhere — and it really helps to get those alerts2 on my watch, even quicker than in my email. It really makes a difference.”
“It’s amazing that now I can get those fraud notifications immediately. I’m usually all over the place for work — at meetings, in the brewery, or elsewhere — and it really helps to get those pop-ups on my watch, even quicker than in my email. It really makes a difference.”
— Nicole Milnes
Deschutes is among a growing number of firms that have embraced wearable banking technology since Wells Fargo launched its free CEO Mobile app for Apple Watch last year, said Secil Watson, head of Wells Fargo Digital Solutions for Business. The app — the first of its kind for commercial business mobile banking customers — now has users across the U.S., she said.
“This is one of the latest ways we’ve leveraged technology to bring banking to the customer wherever they are,” Watson said. “The app’s features are tailored to the needs of business managers on the move, including near real-time fraud and deposit alerts, payment approval, and other money management notifications. Our customers tell us it has become an essential resource for their business operations.”
Through its app for Apple Watch, Wells Fargo has tapped into a strong consumer demand for wearable mobile technology that is useful and convenient, said Alenka Grealish, senior analyst for Celent consulting. Typically, people first experience the usefulness of technology — like smartwatches — as consumers, then that experience raises their expectations in the business world, she said.
“I talked to Wells Fargo for years as they worked through their early versions of the CEO Mobile app (for smartphones), and they were a pacesetter when they launched their mobile banking app,” Grealish said. “So it’s not surprising to me they are also a pacesetter now in migrating certain actions and alerts to the smartwatch. It’s the natural evolution of mobile banking.”
The saga of Wells Fargo’s Apple Watch app began well before anyone had ever seen Apple Inc.’s flagship wearable technology. Kat Zagone, a member of Wells Fargo’s CEO Mobile Product Management team, described the exciting, sometimes frantic energy surrounding the team’s early work nearly five years ago.
“We knew the Apple Watch launch was coming, so we all sat down and thought about what we could do with this that will really benefit the customer,” said Zagone, a digital consultant with Wells Fargo Treasury Management. “We were learning on the fly, but we were determined to be the first to market. That was our goal from the start.”
After four intense weeks, they had a working prototype to share with customer focus groups and gather feedback for fine-tuning, she said.
“I think the best moment for me is when one of our customers, an early adopter, told me he had just used the app in a meeting to tell everyone what the company’s account balance was,” Zagone said. “The whole room began to ooh and aah, and someone said, ‘Awesome!’ That’s when I knew we were onto something really good.”
For Erin Floyd, a Wells Fargo sales consultant in Portland, Oregon, the proof of the app’s value is in the experience of customers like Milnes, especially when they protect their companies from fraud.
“Clearly, there’s a great need for this capability,” said Floyd, whose clients include Deschutes. “I mean, the fact that Nicole was able to uncover fraud in just minutes — it’s a powerful story of how technology can be leveraged. I talk about it with customers all the time. Not a week goes by that I don’t have someone affected by fraud. So it is really important to get the word out there.”
1CEO Mobile is available to all CEO Mobile users with an eligible iPhone and an Apple Watch. For the best experience, you should download the latest version of the CEO Mobile app available from the Apple App Store®. Apple and Apple Watch are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.
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