The surge in geolocation technology applications in the retail and gaming sectors has prompted financial institutions to step up to the plate. Geolocation services are a powerful tool in the race toward a “frictionless” and seamless customer banking experience. Banks are rolling out applications with this technology to help combat fraud, enhance online banking security and provide more convenient access to services.

Geolocation for Security

Fraudulent purchases made without a credit/debit card physically being presented to the merchant is known as card-not-present (CNP) fraud, and a research study by iovation and Aite Group estimates that CNP fraud will exceed $7.2 billion by 2021. Geolocation technology can help combat fraud by pairing the location of the credit card to the customer’s phone to verify identity and ensure the legitimacy of transactions.

U.S. Bank has implemented this technology with its FlexPerks credit cards to further enhance its online banking security. Consumers that travel out of town often get frustrated when transactions get declined due to stringent fraud-screening algorithms. Geolocation services help to alleviate these issues by allowing legitimate transactions to process while flagging fraudulent ones. Customers can opt in for the service through the FlexPerks mobile app.

Australian bank and financial services provide Westpac is taking this a step further by testing geolocation to seamlessly authenticate legitimate transactions placed overseas to address the needs of international travelers.

Banks are also experimenting with using geolocation as a way to enhance the security and accessibility of their branches. Citigroup is testing out use of Bluetooth beacons to provide after-hours indoor ATM access to banking customers. The beacons conveniently unlock the entrance door as a bank customer approaches, resulting in a “frictionless” entry.

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Geolocation to Personalize Services

Some banks are also using geolocation to enhance the customer experience by offering personalized services. For example, Wells Fargo is experimenting with developing personalized enhancements for customers using geolocation to welcome them by name and promptly offer banking services as they walk into a branch. Similarly, Capital One is testing location-based offers to customers as they walk past participating retailers. And for spendaholics, San Antonio Federal Credit Union (SACU) allows customers turn cards on and off in certain locations and to place spending limits on cards by retail category with the SACU Card Control app, which is especially helpful for parents who may cosign a credit card for their children.

Convenience Without Intrusion

While the convenience factor is a boon for customers, the true test lies in how skillfully banks will be able to balance the added benefits of opt-in geolocation-based services without becoming too intrusive. The underlying byproduct of geolocation implemention is the enabling of real-time data collection for its customer banking and spending habits for big data analysis. This valuable information can be deployed to tailor future services. Thanks to popular geolocation-based mobile apps like Uber, Google Maps and Pokemon Go, consumers are becoming more comfortable using the technology, and as more advancements are made, geolocation will play an even bigger role in industries from finance to retail.

Another field benefiting from geolocation technology is the hospitality industry, as hotels are increasingly using beacons to send relevant, timely messages to guests.

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Jea Yu

Jea Yu is a co-founder of, an online trader education site that has served over 10,000 traders, fund managers and investors worldwide since 1998 and was voted Forbes Best of the Web for four consecutive years in the active trader category. He has published best-sellers through McGraw-Hill, John Wiley and Bloomberg Press and has been interviewed in popular periodicals including the Wall Street Journal, Stocks & Commodities, the Financial Times, Active Trader Magazine, Traders Magazine and USA Today. Follow him on Twitter: @jeayu21

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