A Tradition of Innovation
Venturo has a long history of driving innovative projects at U.S. Bank, even before he assumed his current position. One such initiative was the expansion of the MoneyPass network of surcharge-free ATMs. Owned by a company that U.S. Bank acquired in 2005, the MoneyPass network currently operates as part of the Elan Financial Services division of U.S. Bank. At the time of the acquisition, Venturo led the product and strategy team for the line of business that managed the surcharge-free network, and he played a key role in bringing the surcharge-free network to U.S. Bank and its customers.
Venturo also has led many other significant projects at the bank during the five and half years he has been in his current role, including the launch of a series of co-branded credit card apps that began in late 2011 with a partnership with outdoor recreation retailer REI. The partnership allowed users of the REI iPhone app to apply for and receive on-the-spot credit to make immediate in-store purchases. The project was expanded to include other retailers, such as Ace Hardware, and added functionality with Android and iPad apps.
Venturo and U.S. Bank first experimented with NFC-based mobile payments as far back as 2007. Recently, of course, mobile payments have become a hot topic, and while Venturo acknowledges there is great potential in mobile wallets, he says he has yet to see the "ideal solution." "The cloud-based ones are interesting," he comments, "until you're in a situation where you can't get to the cloud. The cloud is not always available inside a retail location."
Nonetheless, Venturo believes the early signs of consumer acceptance and adoption for mobile wallets is there. "Some people are already using their phones to do a lot of interesting things that look like payments," he notes.
But Venturo is quick to point out that in his 13 years at U.S. Bank, "What I've learned is that you are rarely your target customer." Among the various roles he's held at the bank, Venturo has been involved in product management as well as with sales and marketing, and he says that's where he learned the importance of using data and research to drive decision making. "What is appealing to me doesn't always test well in a focus group," Venturo admits. "You have to put your personal opinions aside and trust in the research and feedback."
By investing in the customer relationship, in turn, the bank hopes to build trust in the U.S. Bank brand, suggests Venturo, a self-described "motorcycle and old-car guy" who has an affinity for Harley-Davidsons. In addition to making great motorcycles, Venturo says, Harley-Davidson is "a great brand," with brand loyalty that would be the envy of most banks. "Any time you can get a host of people to tattoo your logo on their bodies," he notes, "that's true brand loyalty."