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MoneyMentor Tries 'Edutainment'

ING's consumer portal combines entertainment and education.

In order to separate itself from the pack of available consumer-focused information portals, Atlanta-based ING US Financial Services, a member of ING Group ($471 billion in assets) has launched ING, an entertainment-rich offering designed to provide "edutainment" to users.

"ING MoneyMentor is a Web-based curriculum that integrates the entertainment and editorial content of AOL Time Warner," says Tom Daly, head, eBusiness Group, ING USFS. ING signed a three-year media and marketing agreement with AOL Time Warner (New York). The media company will provide content from AOL properties, including, Money magazine, DC Comics and TBS Superstation.

Currently, ING MoneyMentor provides users with content, education sources and calculators to determine financial status, and the ability choose an ING financial advisor.

Functionality Is Needed

Industry experts say, however, that consumers want much more than just information from their financial services Web sites. "We are seeing a transition from information to functionality," says Craig Weber, senior analyst, insurance, at Celent Communications (New York). "Almost all consumer-level portals have agency locators, calculators and needs analysis tools. To have those functions does not set a portal apart.

"The best insurance portals offer all of the basic functionality, and also provide simple transactions such as account transfers and address changes," Weber adds.

However, Weber warns, even fancy portals with very good functionality will not be as successful as they could be without an enterprise-wide e-business strategy. "Everyone says they want to get the customer online," Weber says. "But only a few companies do it the right way. Fidelity has been very successful. Why? Because the Internet is an integral part of Fidelity's strategy." For instance, Fidelity e-mails its customers, its e-mails have links to Fidelity's Web portal and it sends its customers' statements electronically. "Building a stand-alone functionality will not work."

Dave Miller, vice president at InSystems, a Markham, ON-based provider of portal technology to insurers, agrees. "Many companies have failed to take advantage of the Internet," he says. "Other companies have adopted a strategy and they have put a new face on old traditional business processes. They are successful."

Greg MacSweeney is editorial director of InformationWeek Financial Services, whose brands include Wall Street & Technology, Bank Systems & Technology, Advanced Trading, and Insurance & Technology. View Full Bio

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