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CafeGive Powers Cause Marketing via Facebook

By Jim Bruene on November 29, 2012 8:57 PM | Comments (1)

image The response  to Chase Bank's Community Giving Facebook campaign has been remarkable (except for a few glitches). It's one of the top social media successes across all industries (see previous post).

If you are looking to do something similar this holiday season (or more likely in 2013), you may want to outsource the tech to a specialist who can help maximize the power of social networks while keeping you from free from any controversy.

image There are a number of companies that can help you create Facebook apps. For example, we were recently briefed by a newcomer that has been getting some traction recently with a large U.S. bank and several credit unions, CafeGive.

CafeGive-powered financial institution examples:

  • US Bank ran a successful program earlier this year in partnership with the Oregon State Activities Association. In a strategy reminiscent of Chase Community Giving, the bank invited the community to nominate and vote (see inset; case study). Six winning high schools each received $2,500. The bank is expected to run the promotion again in 2013.
  • Patelco Credit Union is using a simple fundraising app they were able to deploy within a few days after Hurricane Sandy hit the Northeast USA (see screenshot 1 - 4). The app includes a progress bar, updated in real-time, showing progress towards the goal.
  • Alaska's Credit Union 1 is donating $1 per like to the Food Bank of Alaska (see screenshot 5 & 6)

Many marketers have mixed feelings about cause marketing. On the one hand you are bragging about how generous you are while at the same time convincing your CFO that there is a positive ROI. But regardless of your motives, you want to get as much bang for your buck. Outsourcing the plumbing makes a lot of sense for these less-frequent programs.  

Bottom line: It's win-win. You do the right thing and it improves your brand image and boosts employee morale.

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Patelco Credit Union

1. Patelco features its CafeGive-powered donation app on its main Facebook page (link; 29 Nov 2012)

Patelco Credit Union features its CafeGive-powered donation app on its main Facebook page


2. Simple donation page with progress meter
(link; 29 Nov 2012)

Simple donation site with progress meter at Patelco CU


3. Co-branded payment page powered by PayPal

Co-branded CafeGive payment page powered by PayPal  


4. After completing the PayPal process, a thank-you page shows the progress bar updated with the new donation

Thank you page from CafeGive

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Credit Union 1

5. Credit Union 1 showcases "like us | give" link on its main Facebook page (link; 29 Nov 2012)

image

6. CafeGive-powered "like us" promotion pays out $1 per like (link)

CafeGive-powered "like us" promotion at Credit Union 1 pays out $1 per like

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Notes:
1. According to CafeGive Founder Sandra Morris, consumers gravitate towards brands with a conscious. She cites a survey that showed the top-3 reasons millennials gave for using a brand were: a) convenience, b) online services, and c) give back.  
2. See our Online Banking Report "Banking in Facebook" (published Feb. 2012, subscription)

Comments (1)

First Arkansas Homepage Goes All In with Social Media

By Jim Bruene on May 31, 2012 8:17 PM | Comments (2)

image I don't know how long First Arkansas Bank & Trust has had a big Facebook-like image dominating its homepage (see below), but it's timely given all the attention the social network has received of late. Despite a little blip with the IPO, Facebook is one of most significant brands on the planet. So associating your financial brand with it is a good move.

FAB&T is using the homepage to create awareness of its four social network outlets:

  • Facebook | Like
  • Twitter | Follow
  • YouTube | Watch
  • Blog | Read

The huge Socialize With Us image is eye-catching and would garner a fair number of clicks, except for one problem. The entire center graphic, including the social media icons, are not clickable. The only way to get to the sites is to click on their icons in the upper right corner of the homepage (note 1). This is a strange design decision.  

Bottom line: While I like the approach of exposing all the trendy social media icons, I'm not sure FAB&T should be sending people to all four. The bank's Facebook page is good, with a modern design, frequent updates, and 755 fans (see second screenshot). So, it makes sense to encourage users to visit and like it.

However, the other social media sites are a little anemic. The blog hasn't been updated since the end of 2011; there has only been one tweet in the past 2 months; and the YouTube channel has limited content.

Like most financial institutions, FAB&T would probably be better served by focusing on Facebook (note 2) and letting the other sites go, or at least stop referring customers to them from the homepage. 

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First Arkansas Bank homepage (31 May 2012)

First Arkansas Bank homepage (31 May 2012)

First Arkansas Bank Facebook page (link)

FAB&T Facebook page  


First Arkansas Bank Twitter page (link)
Note: The bank had one tweet in May, zero in April and a couple in March.

image


First Arkansas Bank Blog (link)
Note: The last post was almost six months ago. And the site is hosted on the Google's free blogging platform, Blogger, which doesn't really do much to help with the brand image.

image

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Notes:
image 1. And those all require users to click through a "third-party warning" before redirecting the user to the social network sites. That further gums up the user experience.
2. See our Online Banking Report "Banking in Facebook" published in Feb. 2012 (subscription).

Comments (2)

Facebook Status Update: Financial Institutions Using New Timeline Format

By Jim Bruene on March 12, 2012 6:19 PM | Comments

image In our February report, Banking on Facebook, we identified 47 financial institutions worldwide with 100,000 or more Facebook Likes/Fans. With the clock ticking towards the month-end deadline for brands to move to the new Timeline format (previous post, note 1), we checked in with these 47 to see how many had made the switch.

So far nine of the 47 (20%) have implemented timeline including three of the top 5 (Progressive, Farmers, and American Express). But considering the companies have only known about it for two weeks, that's good progress. The ranking shown below is based on their standing in late February 2012. The number of Likes below has updated as of today:

1. Progressive Insurance Flo, 3.4 million likes

4. Farmers Insurance, 2.3 million likes

5. American Express, 2.4 million likes

13. Garanti Bank (Turkey), 950,000 likes

18. Bank of Georgia, 320,000 likes

31. TurboTax, 210,000 likes

32. PayPal UK 200,000 likes

37. BBVA Continental 170,000 likes

40. TBC Bank (Georgia) 160,000 likes

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Absa is using its timeline cover photo to promote electronic statements (12 March 2012)
Note: This may be a bit more "promotional" than Facebook was hoping for with its cover photo guidelines, but highlighting a product feature seems reasonable.

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Notes:
1. The Financial Brand published a helpful Timeline tutorial today (here)
2. No top-15 U.S. bank has implemented timeline yet. 

Comments
Categories: Facebook

Can Banks Avoid Being Friends with Facebook?

By Jim Bruene on March 5, 2012 5:40 PM | Comments (3)

image Last Tuesday, we published our first full report on how financial institutions can leverage Facebook for marketing, delivery and customer service. Then a day later, Facebook changed the rules for brand pages, forcing a redesign to the new "timeline" format (see third screenshot below for example; note 1).

It is largely a cosmetic change, akin to swapping out the window coverings in a branch. But it's still annoying that the Internet giant only allowed 30 days to make the change. Obviously, the company still doesn't know (or more likely care) how long it takes to revise marketing materials in the real world. 

While the timeline change doesn't materially impact the tactics we looked at, it does illustrate a downside of developing on the Facebook platform (note 2):

  • Facebook sets all the rules and you must adapt to them
  • Facebook evolves faster than most brand marketing strategies, so it takes a commitment to keep up with the changes (this can be outsourced of course)
  • Facebook is so popular, and has so many ways to grow revenues, it's not likely to listen business customers' feedback (yet)

While those drawbacks may temper your investment for now, it doesn't change the fact that you MUST pay attention to Facebook.

Why?

Whether you like or not, your bank is already on Facebook. Virtually every business entity of any size has a placeholder page on the social network (see the Fifth Third Bank placeholder below). These pages are closed, no wall posts, and generally pulled from Wikipedia company descriptions. So, they are relatively innocuous and are better than having users instead land on a random "yourbank sucks" page.

However, do you want customers or potential customers, evaluating you based on the intro to your Wikipedia page? And while there are very few (zero?) users searching inside Facebook for a bank, prospects will stumble on to your Facebook page from Google searches (see Astera CU search below).

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Bottom line
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While it's not going to make a dent in your non-interest income shortfall, a few days spent sprucing up your Facebook page is a cost of running a consumer business in 2012 (see post-Timeline page at Oregon Employees CU below).

Larger investments are harder to justify (obviously). Consumers are not clamoring for "more bank" in their social networks. But based on the history of other media, consumers will put up with plenty of advertising noise as long as there is something in it for them.

We believe that eventually most banks will have at least a semi-sophisticated presence in Facebook (think website circa 2000). But given that the platform is still relatively unstable, there is no huge rush to go beyond the content basics.

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Facebook placeholder for Fifth Third Bank (link)
Note: Surprisingly, 3,400 fans

Fifth Thrid Facebook "placeholder" page

Google search results for "Astera Credit Union"
Note: Astera's "unmanned" placeholder Facebook page is the sixth link on Google organic search results. LinkedIn is second.

Organic search results for Astera Credit Union

Oregon Employees FCU has the first FI "timeline" page I've seen (link)
Note: Like activity is even more prominent than the old format

Oregon Employees FCU is one of the first FI timeline formated pages 
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Notes:
1. There are many resources available for brands looking for timeline tips for example here, here, and here.
2. Those of you with apps in Apple's iOS store face similar ever-changing platform requirements. However, there is usually more lead time to make changes.  
3. Picture credit: Connect Media Blog

Comments (3)

New Online Banking Report Published: Banking on Facebook

By Jim Bruene on February 29, 2012 4:03 PM | Comments

image We just published our latest report, Banking on Facebook, which looks at why you should establish a presence on the social network. And more importantly, what you can do to make the effort pay off.

To some extent, this report was overdue. Facebook has been a major social force for four or five years. However, it wasn't until recently that brands have taken the platform seriously.

And while soft drinks and social games may dominate Facebook brand pages now, every major brand will be there eventually, financial services included. The opening to our report lays out the opportunity:

If there was a neighborhood that 90% of your customers visited frequently, many every day, how much would you pay to have a presence there? If you were small, maybe $10,000; if you were Chase, maybe hundreds of millions.

But what if it cost almost nothing to set up shop there? Basically, that’s Facebook: a place most of your customers frequent and where brands can establish a page for exactly zero dollars.

clip_image002In the 56-page report we cover:

  • 12 main reasons you should invest in a Facebook brand page
  • 12 primary components of a Facebook brand page (see screenshot below)
  • 42 advanced tactics for your Facebook page
  • 47 financial institutions worldwide with more than 100,000 Facebook fans/likes
  • Consumer interest in viewing bank account info, spending info, and credit info within their Facebook page
  • The importance of Facebook's new "Action" buttons for banks (inset)
  • 23 Facebook terms you need to understand (e.g. social plugins)

__________________________________________________________________

About the report
__________________________________________________________________

Banking on Facebook (link)
It's time to set up shop in the dominant social network

Author: Jim Bruene, Editor & Founder

Published: 28 Feb 2012

Length: 56 pages, 10 tables, 12,000 words

Cost: No extra charge to OBR subscribers, US$495 for others here

__________________________________________________________________


Sample screenshot
: We use Lending Club to illustrate the basic components of a Facebook brand page

Sample Facebook brand page from Lending Club

Comments

India's ICICI Bank Launches Online Banking via Facebook

By Jim Bruene on January 17, 2012 1:06 PM | Comments (3)

image You can really see how the global financial crisis has stunted banking innovation by looking at how little Facebook has been used as a delivery channel (note 1).

The first financial institution in the world to offer Facebook account access, KeyPoint Federal Credit Union (powered by MShift)  launched in Nov 2007 (post here), when the social network had "just" 50 million users.

In the ensuing 4+ years, despite an increase of 800 million more users, not a single major financial institution has followed in KeyPoint's footsteps (see note 1).

Sure, there's been some impressive Facebook marketing campaigns. Chase, American Express, and Capital One have all passed the 2-million "like" mark. But no one allows customers to check their balance/transactions right from within the social network (via a Facebook app).

But the drought ended this week, when India's second largest bank, ICICI Bank, launched comprehensive Facebook services including account info (screenshot #1), offers (see #2), and a general jump-page to the bank's main website (#3).

The new Facebook initiative is currently featured in the first promotion served by the bank's homepage (#4, note 2).  
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1. ICICI Bank's Your Bank Account page in Facebook (link, 17 Jan 2012)

ICICI Bank's Your Bank Account page in Facebook  

2. Exclusive offers Facebook page (link)

Exclusive offers Facebook page (link)


3. Bank-on-the-go Facebook page: Serves as a launching pad to the specific areas on the bank's main website

Bank-on-the-go Facebook page: Serves as a launching pad to the specific areas on the bank's main website


4. ICICI Bank displays a Facebook promo when landing on its homepage

  ICICI Bank displays a Facebook promo when landing on its homepage

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Notes:
1. Having been a product manger for several large banks, I get why the "Facebook project" hasn't moved to the top of the queue; basically, lack of demand. Facebook may have nearly a billion users, but only a few percent are ready to bank there because it's not seen as secure/private and it's a place to connect with friends (see note 2). But despite the current lack of demand, we are confident that Web services, including banking & payments, have a promising future on the platform. 
2. ICICI Bank tackles security via a prominent mouseover on the main page:

The 'Bank Account' app is hosted on secured ICICI Bank servers and is made available on Facebook through a secure SSL connection. ICICI Bank has not transferred any data to Facebook. Your bank account information can only be accessed by you through your 'Bank Account' app on Facebook after successful registration which incorporates strong 2-factor authentication and setting up a personalized password. As long as you don't share this information with others, no one can access your account through Facebook.

Currently through your 'Bank Account' app on Facebook you can view account details, mini statement and few service requests like applying for debit card.

This app lets you access your information only after authenticating your Debit Card Number and Password. As long as you don't share this information with others, no one can access your account.

3. Viewing the page from a U.S.-based IP address.
4. We cover all the channels in our subscription newsletter, Online Banking Report.

Comments (3)

Citibank Running Front-page WSJ Facebook Campaign

By Jim Bruene on August 16, 2011 9:45 PM | Comments

imageCitibank is using some of the most expensive real estate on the planet, the front page of the Wall Street Journal, to promote its Facebook page (see inset and below). The bottom-of-the-page banner invites readers to Like Citibank on Facebook to "find amazing ways to use your (ThankYou) points," and directs them to Citi's main Facebook page, facebook.com/citibank.

Visitors are shown a special page promising exclusive access to an upcoming Beyonce concert for Citibank ThankYou customers (see first screenshot). After, clicking the Like button, a new screen appears with a "coming soon" message (second screenshot).

As of 11:30 Eastern this morning, Citi had 34,500 likes, by midnight the total had grown by about 2,000 to 36,500. I don't know where they started the day, but according Visible Banking, the Citi Facebook page debuted in mid-November 2010 with 7,000 likes, mostly from employees. 

Bottom line: I like the idea of creating exclusive benefits for Facebook fans. And perhaps Citi's goal is to make this into a "teaser" campaign. But overall, I was disappointed not to receive any immediate info to reward me for taking the time to visit/like the bank's Facebook site.

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Citibank banner ad, bottom of first page of WSJ (Western edition, 16 Aug. 2011)

Citibank banner ad on bottom of first page of WSJ  

Citibank's Facebook page, before "Liking" (16 Aug. 2011, 8:30 AM Pacific)
Note: This is the landing page displayed when using the primarily URL, Facebook.com/citibank

Citibank's Facebook page, before "Liking" (16 Aug 2011, 8:30 Pacific 

Citibank's Facebook page, after "Liking" (16 Aug. 2011, 9:15 PM Pacific)

image

Comments

Finally, a Facebook Credit Card Connection to Really Like (Thanks American Express)

By Jim Bruene on July 26, 2011 1:34 PM | Comments

image Since Facebook became the de facto social operating system a year or two ago, I've been a little surprised the financial powers haven't jumped on board more aggressively (note 1). But the card companies have had their hands full dealing with the credit meltdown, so it's understandable.

But now that "big cards" are moving forward again, we'll see a burst of activity leveraging Facebook and other social networks during 2012 and beyond (note 2).

Link, Like, Love from American Express  is a great example of what's to come.

Here's how it works (1 thru 5 illustrated in screenshots below):

  • Step 1: Go to the American Express Facebook page
  • Step 2: Add "Link. Like. Love." to your Facebook profile
  • Step 3: Link your AmEx card to the app
  • Step 4: Sign up for offers you like
  • Step 5: Visit the merchant (whenever you like) and pay with your AmEx card
  • Step 6: The discount will automatically appear as a statement credit on your card

_______________________________________________________________________

Analysis
______________________________________________________________

The AmEx program is very similar to bankcard-based, merchant-funded rewards, except for one huge difference. Instead of "liking the offer" during infrequent visits to your bank/card statement, you do it while on Facebook, which the typical user visits approximately a zillion times more than their bank (note 3).

MasterCard/Visa issuers will follow the same path, but AmEx bagged a ton of free publicity along with the first 2 million users. Like it, a lot.
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Step 1: Visit American Express Facebook page
Note: 2 million "likes" (note 4)

Step 1: Visit American Express Facebook page

Step 2: Add the AmEx app

Step 2: Add the AmEx app

Step 3: Link card

Step 3: Link American Express card to Facebook

Step 3a: Complete form on AmEx webpage

Step 3a: Complete form on AmEx webpage

Step 3b: Share with friends (optional)

Step 4: Share with friends (optional)

Step 4: Activate offers with two clicks

Step 5: Activate Amex offers with single click

Step 4a: Confirm

Step 5a: Confirm

Step 4b: More optional sharing

Step 6: More sharing (optional)

Final: Offer now shows "Added"

Final: Offer now shows "Added"

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Notes:
1. Chase had the first "1+ million likes" financial promotion in early 2010 with its brilliant Community Giving program
2. We'll see some great Facebook integration at FinvoateFall in two months. 
3. Presumably, I'll be getting all kinds of Facebook and/or email messages from AmEx; although 2 hours post-signup, nothing was in either inbox.
4. During the 2 hours or so (4 to 6 PM Pacific) that elapsed while I was working on this post, the number of likes increased by more than 300. That translates to 3,000+ per day, or close to 100,000 per month. I don't know how many likes AmEx had when the program launched, but it sounds like reasonable traction.

Comments

PerkStreet Financial Targets USAA Debit-Rewards Customers with Ads on Facebook

By Jim Bruene on July 15, 2011 4:32 PM | Comments

image Every once in a while I stumble onto Facebook, usually by following a link from a credit union or banking site. It happened a few days ago, when I clicked a link in the middle of Visions FCU Rocks, a cool youth banking microsite from Visions Federal Credit Union.

The Visions Facebook page was fine, but it was the little ad in the lower-right that grabbed my attention (see inset and screenshot below).

imagePerkStreet Financial, which has perhaps the richest debit-rewards program in the nation, with 1% to 2% cash back, is targeting USAA customers who just lost their debit card rewards program altogether. The landing page (see screenshot below) does a good job laying out the financial benefits and funneling visitors to the online app.

Bottom line: It's a good time to tout debit card rewards, if you are sure you are keeping it. And targeting USAA customers specifically seems worth testing.

But if I was a USAA customer doing whatever people do on Facebook, I think I would find the, "Your USAA Account Changes" headline vaguely misleading. It might be better to use a headline more like the first sentence of the ad, "USAA is ending debit card rewards" or even, "Be glad USAA ended debit rewards."  

That's it for my attempt at teaching "headline writing 101." Class dismissed. Have a great weekend.  

PerkStreet Financial targets USAA customers with Facebook ad (12 July 2011)

Perkstreet Financial targets USAA customers with Facebook ad (12 July 2011)

PerkStreet landing page (link)

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Comments

Zong: A Payments Company Name to Remember

By Jim Bruene on May 17, 2011 7:36 PM | Comments (1)

Editor's note: This guest post was written by Daniel Thomas, a 25-year veteran of the financial services industry and a principal consultant with Mindful Insights LLC. He's been involved in strategy and product development for Online Resources Corporation, ARINC, and TeleCheck. He recently authored a report on merchant-funded in-statement rewards for Online Banking Report.

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imageAdmittedly, my online game prowess is more closely aligned with Pong and Donkey Kong than the latest complex and socially intricate diversions. Back in the day, computer games garnered only a single payment transaction: when it was actually purchased. But today, in order to reach the next level, buy virtual pets or beat your opponent a half a world away, a player/avatar/consumer will typically transact multiple times per month in order to buy Facebook credits or other virtual currency (cash, coins, gems, etc.).

These transactions can often occur in the heat of battle (literally), and the last thing any good soldier wants to do is stop progress in order to begin the seemingly weeklong process of taking out their credit card and typing a bunch of numbers just to spend a $2.99 to re-fill their weapons cache.

imageBefore you could say billabong, along came Zong to make it as quick and as easy as a song. How? They ask if you want the charge to tag along on your mobile phone bill. And before long, you are back in action and that much stronger.

So, what's the big deal? What has tickled my lifelong fascination with payments is not where Zong is now but where they are headed. Keep in mind that all these newfound payment transactions are seen only by the game company (merchant);, Zong (acquirer and network); and the mobile phone company (issuer). Financial institutions are involved only when the phone bill is paid at the end of the month.

Furthermore, the fees that Zong and a throng of other "carrier billing" processors command can be as high as 40% of the transaction amount. Ding-dong! Hello? After all, the cost of goods sold for a new virtual tank is pretty small and so is the actual transaction amount once the price has been converted from the game company's internal currency.

But even so, 40% ain't chicken singsong, especially when you consider that the online gaming (not gambling) market today is along the lines of $100 billion. Admittedly, 90% of that market belongs to the non-virtual console and PC games that Zong will be moving into as those products enter headlong into the virtual world.

Future plans
Zong, which now has 100 employees, is already available as a form of payment for Facebook Credits and virtual goods in 42 countries. The company has big plans to expand with its model. Online gaming is just phase one of its multi-prong strategy. Zong knows that moving into markets where physical and digital goods are purchased online (phase 2) will require a reduction in the processing fee percentage. But they already have millions of loyal consumers enrolled in their service which they can leverage to expand to merchants selling relatively low-priced products with reasonable margins (think: books, music, etc.)

Phase three takes things one step further as Zong's strategy intersects with mobile payments at the physical point-of-sale. The idea is that consumers will use the Internet to research their next purchase, as they do today, and will buy the item online using Zong to place the charge on their mobile phone bill. That payment information is then stored in the cloud so that their customers can go to the physical store, pick up the item and show proof of purchase to the merchant.

That should keep traditional payment providers awake all summer long.

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Purchasing Facebook credits with Zong

Step 1: Choose number of credits

Step 1: Using Zong to purchase Facebook credits

Step 2: Enter mobile number

Step 2: Using Zong to purchase Facebook credits

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Step 3: Random 4-digit authorization PIN is sent via Text message

Text message from Zong authorize purchase Facebook credits

Step 4: The PIN is entered into Facebook

Step 4: Using Zong to purchase Facebook credits

Final confirmation screen

Final confirmation when using Zong to purchase Facebook credits

Comments (1)
Categories: Facebook, Mobile Payments

Chase Adds 2 Million Facebook Fans in $5 Million Charity Giveaway

By Jim Bruene on March 31, 2010 6:26 PM | Comments

image If a category existed for "corporate wins in social media" in the Guinness Book of World Records, Chase Bank would surely hold the top spot today. In its recently concluded effort, two million users became Facebook Fans of Chase Community Giving in order to direct $5 million in donations to their favorite charities. 

In round one, Chase fans were given 20 votes to parcel out among 500,000 eligible 501(c)(3) charities. First-round voting ended Dec. 12. The 100 charities with the most votes were declared finalists and moved into round two. Round two voting ended Jan. 22, 2010.

The winner was awarded $1 million; five runner-ups received $100,000 each; and 100 finalists received $25,000 each. The winning charity, Invisible Children, received more than 100,000 votes as did second place Isha Foundation. But anyone looking to recreate Chase's success should think carefully about the official rules. With less than 1200 votes separating the two charities, and with $900,000 at stake, there were accusations of voter fraud in the Chase contest. Future contests will likely give the bank some leeway in declaring a tie and splitting the pot equitably.

Relevance for Netbankers: If you still have social media naysayers in your company, give them the link to Chase's recap page (screenshot below). That ought to get their attention. 

Contest recap on Chase's Community Giving Facebook page (link, 31 March 2010)

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Note: For more info on social media strategies for financial institutions, see our subscription site.

Comments

Discover Card's User-Generated Card Design Contest

By Jim Bruene on December 31, 2009 10:10 AM | Comments (1)

image Personalized card designs have been offered by Capital One and others for years. But I've yet to see the idea turned into a contest. Discover Card is running a promotion for the best design submitted through its microsite or Facebook page.

The winner will pocket $1000 and the design will be featured on the next Discover Card Student Card. There is also another $1000 split among five runner-up designs.

To enter the contest, users must log in at the Discover microsite using Facebook connect (see screenshot #2, below). After creating the design, users end up on a Facebook page where they can provide optional personal information (screenshot #3). 

The promotion is powered by the Graffiti Facebook app.

As you can see by my handiwork (inset), most card designs are pretty crude. But there are also some pretty creative entrants. There is only one design tool available, a brush you run with your mouse. The only variations are color, brushstroke width and opacity. No uploads are allowed, so you cannot add any fancy graphics created in other apps.

The contest ends tomorrow and so far there are nearly 5,000 entries. 

Bottom line: It's a drop-dead simple contest with excellent Facebook integration and a link to apply for Discover's Student Card. It's a great idea, with good execution, and the card issuer will end up with a cool new card design for a relatively small cost. Grade A+ 

Thanks to Payments News for the link.

1. Discover Card microsite (31 Dec. 2009)
Note: Homepage showing the 10-most recent entries with our lame effort in the lower-right.

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2. Discover Card design creation page

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3. Facebook optional personal info page

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4. Designs appear on the Discover Facebook page under the Graffiti tab (link)
Note: Considering the crude input tool, some of the designs are amazing. As you can see, I will not be in the running for prize money. 

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Comments (1)

Blippy: Do We Really Want to Automatically Tweet our Purchase Transactions?

By Jim Bruene on December 16, 2009 5:12 PM | Comments (3)

image I love startups. Just when you think you've seen everything, along comes someone doing something that no one would have ever thought of five years ago, or in this case one year ago.

image The latest inspiration: Blippy. The service allows you to automatically broadcast your credit or debit card purchases using the Twitter/Facebook model (see screenshot below; note 1).

The first question everyone asks is why? (see comments at TechCrunch) But really, it's not much different than broadcasting personal details via Twitter or your whereabouts via Foursquare, especially if you limit viewing to friends. The founder, serial entrepreneur, Philip Kaplan explains in the TechCrunch interview, that he has one credit card for "social purchases" broadcast on Blippy and another for purchases he prefers to keep private.

Blippy will contain privacy controls that allow users to share everything or keep it within a closed loop of friends. The company also envisions many other privacy controls to turn the service off and on, allow users to approve transactions before publishing, suppress certain merchants, or merchant categories, and so on.

The use cases shown so far are centered around media purchases, for example using it to automatically tweet (blip?) what song or movie you bought on iTunes or social "check ins" where the service lets people know you just bought coffee at Starbucks. But I can see where it would be helpful for spouses to "broadcast" purchases only to each other. Or for a salesperson to broadcast their purchases to their assistant to build expense reports on the fly. 

The service is in closed alpha (only in use by a handful of friends and family, note 2) as the three-person company gears up for a launch. You can follow Kaplan on Twitter (@pud) for more info.

My take: I like the idea of easily sharing purchases with joint-account holders or a bookkeeper. But many (most?) online banking systems and PFMs already allow this through the alerts system. You may want to boost education efforts on this capability.

imageAs for Tweeting about songs downloaded via iTunes, wouldn't most users prefer to maintain more control over that by simply using Twitter or Facebook to directly type a short note? But we know from experience, if there's a way to do something with less effort, it stands a good chance of succeeding.  

I'm not expecting widespread adoption any time soon, but I think there is a market for sharing spending transactions.

Here's something for innovative FIs to consider: Add a "share this" button next to credit/debit card transaction and let users send the info via email, Twitter or Facebook with a couple keystrokes (see inset from FiLife).

I know it sounds far-fetched, but it might be just the thing to make your card stand out with heavy users of social media.

Blippy homepage showing spending stream (16 Dec. 2009)

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Note:
1. For more info in Twitter, see our Online Banking Report on the technology published in May.
2. Twitter's Evan Williams is using Blippy as shown in screenshot taken by CNET's Rafe Needleman in his article earlier this week.

Comments (3)

Donors Choose Checkout Includes Amazon Payments along with Facebook and Twitter Integration

By Jim Bruene on October 13, 2009 9:00 PM | Comments (2)

image I love how the Internet removes friction from everyday tasks, especially payment-related ones. And one of the great success stories of recent years, beginning with Hurricane Katrina relief in August 2005, is how easy it is to make charitable gifts online.

I've used the Red Cross site several times. It gets the job done, but not with the flair and superb user experience of Donors Choose (note 1). 

Thanks to Fred Wilson, blogging at A VC, I contributed to the Social Media Challenge last week and got a first-hand look at Donors Choose. The simple checkout process has three features that I'd not seen before:

  • Amazon Payments as a payment choice (along with PayPal, credit card, or check; first screenshot)
  • Automated Facebook wall post integration (second screenshot)
  • Automated Twitter posting with two options:
    -- allow Donors Choose to Tweet a thank-you to you referencing your @twittername
    -- provides a template for you to make a Tweet from your own Twitter account

If you want to see a state-of-the-art checkout system in action, and support kids in the classroom, check out Donors Choose.

Or if you are looking to add a charitable-giving feature to your banking site for the holidays, you can easily create your own giving page at Donors Choose and run a widget on your website tracking the campaign's progress (see inset). You can choose which projects to support so long as they fall within the nonprofit's mission of "helping students in need."

Donors Choose cart with Amazon Payments and PayPal integration (13 Oct 2009)

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Facebook wall post integration
This screen popped up after I checked out

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Twitter integration

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Donors Choose shout-out page on Twitter (link)
Note: First Tweet was Sep 29. Have done 342 since then (through 13 Oct 2009).

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Note:
1. My first donation via Amazon Payments failed because I accidentally used a canceled credit card number. And evidently there is a bit of a bug in the feedback loop to the Donors Choose site. I got an error message, but when I clicked "next" to re-enter the payment, the site transferred me out to the thank-you page and I was unable to go back and re-do the transaction. I had to start all over again, and now the site shows that I've made two donations instead of one. 

Comments (2)

Target Taps Customers via Facebook to Designate Recipients for its Corporate Giving

By Jim Bruene on May 14, 2009 7:55 PM | Comments (1)

imageTarget is running a clever Facebook promotion that allows Facebook users to allocate the retailer's $3 million weekly corporate donation among eight pre-selected charities. I heard about it in an email from the Red Cross encouraging its supporters to go to Facebook and vote more of cash its way (see screenshots below).     

How it works: When Facebook users vote, they are given the opportunity to automatically publicize their activity with their friends (see second Target screenshot). Finally, after a vote, Target shows the running totals for each charity. As of today, nearly 70,000 votes had been tallied.

Analysis: This is a good way to leverage social networking. Not only is Target reinforcing its brand, and its commitment to donate 5% of its income to charity, it's created a non-intrusive viral campaign with both Facebook users and the charitable organizations motivated to spread the word. Nicely done.

Opportunity: This approach would also work great for a financial institution.

From Target website (link)

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Target's voting page on Facebook (14 May 2009)

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Voters are given the opportunity to spread the word to their Facebook friends (14 May 2009)

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After each vote, Target displays a running total (14 May 2009)

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Comments (1)
Categories: Facebook, Public Relations

E*Trade Casts a Wide Social Net to Support the "Baby" Campaign

By Jim Bruene on February 3, 2009 6:16 PM | Comments (1)

image In my pre-Super Bowl post about E*Trade's "baby" franchise, I wasn't aware of several other ways the company is using social media to increase awareness:

  • Baby's Twitter page (screenshot #1 below and note 1;): This is a new effort launched Jan. 22, the same day the 2009 outtakes clip was released into the wild via YouTube and press release. The baby Tweeted a few times on the days leading up to the game, and a few since, but the funniest part was the 26 game-day Tweets that actually incorporated real-time events into the script. There are only 650 followers today, but that's up 150 since Monday morning -- not a bad start for a low-cost marketing tool. 
  • Baby's Facebook page (screenshot #2 below): Also launched around Jan. 22, the E*Trade baby Facebook page already has 3,825 fans. The commercials are posted along with a photo album. 

The E*Trade homepage has also been used before and after the game to take advantage of interest in the baby ads. The baby dominated E*Trade's homepage the day after the big game (see screenshot #3 below of the Monday morning homepage). 

Lessons for financial institutions
You don't have to be a Super Bowl advertiser to use social media to support your advertising campaigns. Banks and credit unions of any size can use these relatively low-cost tactics.

Here are the eight key support elements to consider for your next campaign:

   1. Press release
   2. Blog entries
   3. Facebook page
   4. Twitter stream
   5. YouTube page
   6. Homepage placement
   7. Landing page
   8. Google keyword buys (see screenshot #4 below)

1. E*Trade baby Twitter page (link, 3 Feb. 2009)

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2. E*Trade Facebook page
(link, 3 Feb. 2009)

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3. E*Trade homepage the morning after Super Bowl XVIII
(2 Feb. 2009)

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4. E*Trade is running Google ads on searches for "etrade baby"
(3 Feb. 2009, 6PM Pacific)

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Note:
1. Thanks Jeffry Pilcher for the Twitter tip.

2. See our Online Banking Report: Bank 2.0 for more ideas.

Comments (1)

Rate Surfer and MyMoney to Demo at Finovate 2008

By Jim Bruene on September 16, 2008 4:35 PM | Comments

image

Finovate takes place four weeks from today (Oct. 14), and we've already surpassed last year's attendee total. Luckily, we booked a bigger space, so there will be more bankers and tech execs to network with and everyone in the audience will have a seat at a table to park that laptop, Blackberry, iPhone, or whatever.

But the space isn't unlimited and if we continue the sign-up pace of the past few weeks we'll sell out well before Oct. 14. So, don't wait too long, register here (see note 1).  

When we announced the Finovate lineup, there were three companies that chose to remain secret. Two of those are now being named (note 2):

  • Rate Surfer which participated in the TechCrunch50 DemoPit last week (post here)
  • MyMoney from Fiserv's Galaxy unit, a Facebook application that allows users to check their bank balance and transactions from within their Facebook account (post here)

Note:
1. Clients with annual subscriptions to our All-Access Online Banking Report are eligible for a conference discount; email info@netbanker.com for your client discount code.

2. The 24th company is in stealth mode and will be revealed on or very near the conference on Oct. 14.

Comments

Visa Launches Business Network on Facebook

By Jim Bruene on June 24, 2008 7:04 PM | Comments (1)

image After seeing the little blurb buried deep in today's Wall Street Journal
(p. B-9), I checked out the press release, and then headed to Facebook to see Visa's new app aimed at small businesses. To gain that all-important viral effect, Visa is giving away $2 million in Facebook advertising credits, $100 to the first 20,000 businesses that join its new The Visa Business Network on Facebook (see note 1).

Visa's Facebook page advertising the network looks good (see screenshot below). It's very "corporate," but I prefer that over lame attempts to look hip. It's dominated by a large video at the top explaining the program, plus three more along the bottom explaining other aspects. 

Visa Business Network (promotional) page on Facebook (24 June 2008)

Visa Business Network on Facebook page 24 June 2008

Selecting the Join this Network button takes you to a page where you are encouraged to add the Visa Business Network app to your Facebook profile. After adding the app, you must complete a short form to identify your business to the network and upload a picture if desired.

Visa Business Network app signup 24 June 2008

It only takes a few minutes, and your company is visible to anyone searching the Visa Business Network. It doesn't appear that Visa's network is searchable through the regular Facebook search. If and when that happens, the network would gain considerably more value.

Here's how my Visa Business Network page looked after uploading a graphic:

Online Banking Report page on Visa Business Network 24 June 2008

Summary
The application also features a Business Resource section with the usual collection of business tools (from Google), articles and videos plus an Ask the Expert section. 

While the idea of a general business network within a larger network seems a bit superfluous, Facebook isn't exactly known to be particularly accommodating to business needs. Maybe this will work. Certainly, if Visa attracts the 20,000 businesses it's earmarked advertising credits for, it will have a head start on others wanting to do the same thing.

However, we wonder how much effort the card giant will devote to the service. It doesn't seem to align that closely to its core card-processing business. But if its goal is to merely improve brand recognition with small business owners, it could be a valuable effort. Clearly Visa has the deep pockets to fund it for the long term. Who knows, maybe some lucky Business Network member will appear in a Visa Super Bowl ad some day. 

Note:
1. The $100 advertising credit was handled flawlessly. A few minutes after joining the network, I received an email to my main email account explaining how to redeem the credit.

Comments (1)

13% Would Use Banking in Facebook

By Jim Bruene on May 6, 2008 9:54 AM | Comments (4)

In an unscientific poll of 500 Facebook users (see note 1), we found that 13% of respondents are interested in accessing their bank balance through their Facebook account (red bar below).

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Source: Online Banking Report, 9 April 2008, n = 500

While that's not exactly a ringing endorsement of the idea, it's potentially enough early adopters to get the service rolling. Most of the interest emanated from younger segments. For example, 18% of 18-to-24 year-olds said they'd probably use Facebook banking (gray bar below) compared to about 5% of the 25-49 group (green and yellow bars below).

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Source: Online Banking Report, 9 April 2008, n = 500

But it will take education to move "Facebook banking" into the mainstream. The majority of respondents, 70%, said there is "no way" they'd bank within Facebook and another 13% said probably not, resulting in a strong 83% negative rating. Given well-founded concerns surrounding online security, that's not surprising. 

For more information:

Note:
1. Survey was conducted April 9 through Facebook's polling mechanism. Total respondents = 500. Respondents are self-selected so the results should not be used to forecast specific demand.

Comments (4)

WaMu Posts Best Banking Facebook Page So Far

By Jim Bruene on April 23, 2008 5:46 PM | Comments (1)

image As a marketer you have to love WaMu. They are bold, quirky, and not afraid to poke fun at conventional wisdom. I haven't liked all their advertising campaigns, but that doesn't matter as long as the bank is reaching its target markets and delivering results.

While the bank has its challenges cleaning up the mortgage mess, its marketing department and ad agency are still producing good work. Case in point: WaMu's new Facebook page (below).

I realize that all banking pages in Facebook will appear lame to just about every 20-something that happens to stumble across them (see previous coverage here). But 20-somethings do still need checking accounts, debit/credit cards, vehicle loans, and so forth. So they will buy banking services. And what brand will they choose? The one that is at least making an effort to meet them on their turf with Facebook pages, text messaging, and humorous advertising, such as the talking banner campaign shown below.  

WaMu's Facebook page, which looks like it was posted April 17, contains videos, a crossword game, a branch finder, a checking account application form, a fan area and a communications app (note 1) that can be added to your Facebook profile. Take a look yourself here.

Excellent work: A

WaMu Facebook Page (23 April 2008) (note 2)

WaMu Facebook page

Notes:
1. Even though I added it to my profile, I'm not sure what the WaMu Facebook application does. It appears to be a way to communicate with friends on Facebook and has 49 daily users.

2. The bar across the middle of the page is unrelated to the WaMu page; it's the new Facebook chat feature, that appears along the bottom of all screens, and messes up my screenshot. It does show you where the "fold" exists on a 13.3 high resolution laptop screen.

Comments (1)

Facebook Financial & Banking Apps Have Only 263 Daily Users

By Jim Bruene on March 14, 2008 12:40 PM | Comments (5)

image It's been a while since we looked at the actual usage of payment, personal finance, lending, and banking apps on Facebook (previous coverage here; see note 1). And assuming the numbers provided by Facebook are accurate, it's not good news. 

Overall, the banking and personal finance apps have anemic usage levels totaling just 263 daily users (for apps with more than 1 daily user). That does not include virtual currencies or stock tracking/investing applications (see note 2). In comparison, the most popular general Facebook app, FunWall, has more than 3 million daily users.

But the number will grow rapidly if major financial institutions add balance inquiry functionality such as (#4) MyMoney from Fiserv's Galaxy unit (previous coverage here) and mShift's Key Point Credit Union app discussed here (only 1 daily user, so it did not make our table).  Activity in Facebook personal finance apps yesterday (13 March 2008):

Name (parent) Daily Users
1. PayPal (eBay) 80
2. Billmonk (Obopay) 55
3. LendingClub* 26
4. MyMoney (Fiserv) 17
5. PayMe 14
6. Debt Manager 10
7. Prosper 7
8. FriendFunds 7
9. UPside Visa Card Balance Reader 6
10. Web Money 6
11. Buxfer 5
12. IOU (Sanjay Madan) 5
13. Split It (TD Bank) 4
14. MoneyExchange (Revolution Money) 4
15. IOU (Jonas Neubert) 3
16. Mortgage Calculator 3
17. BillTrack 3
18. Insurance Marketplace 2
19. Wesabe 2
20. FB E-Wallet 2
21. Intuit Tax Tips 2
TOTAL 263**

*See comment 1

**Does not include apps with less than 2 users

Notes:

1. You cannot make a meaningful comparison with last summer's activity because Facebook changed the way it reports usage. Previously, the company reported the number of application downloads and now it shows the much, much smaller "active daily user" total. For example, in July 2007, LendingClub had already had more than 11,000 downloads. Under the new measurement system it tallies just 26 daily users which puts it in third place (see table below).

2. The leading stock tracking app, Fantasy Stock Exchange, has 7,990 daily users. The most popular virtual currency AceBucks has 11,300 daily users.

Comments (5)

50 Banks and Credit Unions Have Facebook Pages

By Jim Bruene on March 6, 2008 8:39 PM | Comments (10)

imageFour months ago (here) I wrote about how easy it was to set up a company page in Facebook. Even a total novice like myself could create one in a few minutes.

There hasn't exactly been a rush to do it, but approximately 50 financial institutions have posted a free company page on Facebook (see note 1). Although, most are simple "white page" listings with no more than logo, address, phone number and URL, it's still better than nothing.
(Update Mar 7: Please note, I am talking only about Facebook "pages" here. There are several banking "groups," notably Chase +1 with nearly 50,000 members, that are far more active. Also, some FI pages , such as TD Money Lounge and RBC Bankbook, do not show up in my search using "bank" and "credit union." Consider these counts approximations. )

Credit unions have three times as many as banks. Credit union's can often move faster because of their size and culture. Here's the count by financial institution type:

  • 10 North American banks
  • 32 North American credit unions
  • 8 banks outside North America

The only banks with more than a handful of fans are Jordan's Arab Bank with 145 and HSBC Bank Egypt with 89. Silicon Valley's Valley Credit Union (screenshot below) leads in the U.S. with 45 fans.

Valley Credit Union Facebook page

There's also one bank branch that's taken the initiative to post a Facebook page. U.S. Bank's Beaver Valley, Ohio branch (here) is one of the few to have posted something interesting, a $100 Super Bowl contest. They've also posted their branch hours (see screenshot below). 

US Bank's Beaver Valley branch Facebook page

Note:

1. I counted financial institution pages by using Facebook's site search for "bank" and then for "credit union." To qualify the FI had to at least post the bank's logo and URL. There were also a few placeholder pages with no logo.

2. For more information on social media and online personal finance, see our Online Banking Report #144/145.

Comments (10)
Categories: Facebook, Social Media, US Bank

Banking in Facebook with MyMoney from Fiserv Galaxy

By Jim Bruene on February 8, 2008 3:13 PM | Comments (3)

image Fiserv's Galaxy unit has created an online banking module for Facebook called MyMoney. I haven't been briefed on it yet, but Galaxy will be hosting a webinar on Tues, Feb 12 and Wed, Feb 13 (register here), if you want a closer look.

According to the company, MyMoney offers full-service transactional online banking:

...members can conveniently view account balances, review history, transfer money between accounts, and much, much more.

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Galaxy hopes that the Facebook application leads to viral member growth for its credit union clients:

When a member adds MyMoney™ to their Facebook page, their friends will be notified and given the opportunity to also join your credit union right then and there, giving you yet another way to reach this growing audience.

I couldn't find any mention of the application on Facebook, so it doesn't appear that its been implemented by an credit unions yet. Who will be first? Drop a note in the comments or send me an email (jim@netbanker.com) if your company plans to deploy it.

In November, we awarded an OBR Best of the Web to a similar service from KeyPoint Credit Union powered by mShift (coverage here).

Thanks again to Jeffry Pilcher for the tip.

Comments (3)
Categories: Facebook, Fiserv

Revolution Money Adds Facebook App for P2P Payments, Pays $25 Bonus

By Jim Bruene on January 27, 2008 1:49 PM | Comments

image As Facebook and other social networks move into various ecommerce activities, payments will take a larger role. There are rumors that Facebook may be developing its own payment capabilities, but that seems outside its core business, so I'm skeptical. 

There are several payment companies already vying for attention at Facebook:

  • PayPal launched a Facebook app in July; it allows users to collect funds from friends or to raise money for a cause (previous coverage here).
  • PayMe is a service that uses the PayPal engine for person-to-person payments (previous coverage here).
  • Chip-In also uses the PayPal engine to gather group donations for a specific goal (previous coverage here ).

imageThe latest on Facebook is Revolution Money, the credit card alternative backed by AOL founder Steve Case. In December, the company launched a Facebook application to support its person-to-person service, MoneyExchange, which is aimed squarely at PayPal's lucrative franchise (screenshot below). Users that sign up on Facebook receive a $25 bonus (through Feb. 29), an offer that is not available on the main MoneyExchange website.

So far, the Facebook is light with only 16 daily users listed today. But as social network users find out how easy it is to settle their debts with friends through the network, we expect a significant volume of funds flowing through the social networks. 

For more information, read our Social Personal Finance report (Online Banking Report #142/143). 

Revolution Money's MoneyExchange App on Facebook

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Comments

KeyPoint Credit Union Launches on Facebook through mShift Platform

By Jim Bruene on November 15, 2007 1:07 AM | Comments (5)

Link to Key Point Credit Union KeyPoint Credit Union is the first financial institution to launch full-fledged account access through Facebook. Using its mobile banking engine powered by mShift, members can view account balances within their Facebook account (see screenshot below).

To view their balance within Facebook, users must add the KeyPoint application to their Facebook account. The first time it's used, users must log in to their Key Point account using their normal username and password. On subsequent visits, balance info is automatically displayed with no login, provided the user is logged into their Facebook account.

In addition to balance info, the KeyPoint application displays content taken from the credit union's homepage.

Analysis
Even though the application is relatively simple, we are giving it our OBR Best of the Web award, the second one this week, and the sixth in 2007 (see previous coverage here). Placing account balance info within Facebook is a great way to demonstrate commitment to social networking members. There are privacy issues with displaying data without a banking login (note 1), but it's reasonable to let your customers decide for themselves if they are comfortable with this setup.    

Screenshots
KeyPoint Facebook application prior to first authentication session:

Key Point Credit Union Facebook application

After initial authentication, account balance info is automatically displayed:

Key Point Credit Union Facebook application

Note:

1. Other Facebook users cannot see the balance info, but someone sharing the computer might see it.

Comments (5)

Create Your Bank's Facebook Page (before someone else does)

By Jim Bruene on November 9, 2007 2:42 PM | Comments (3)

Is it just me or is it hard to keep up with all the developments at Facebook? I guess if you are worth $15 billion, you have to keep hustling.

Much of the news out of Facebook has little to do with retail banking. So, you may have overlooked this week's announcement of its new ad platform and promotional tools for businesses and organizations (for a concise, 340-word summary and analysis, see Wednesday's TechCrunch post here).

In the official Facebook press release (here), Chase is listed as one of 12 "landmark partners" in the advertising program. Other than the existing Chase +1 group, with an impressive 40,000 members, it doesn't appear the bank has launched a page yet.

But that shouldn't stop you. To create a Facebook presence, you don't need to be a landmark partner, a mega bank, or even have ten bucks left in your budget. The new company pages are free and you can set one up here in a just a few minutes .

As a test, I built an Online Banking Report page in about 90 seconds (here, screenshot below). It took an hour to show up in Facebook search, so don't panic if it's not there right away (see note 1).

Even if you post only your logo and website address, I recommend doing so right away. That will help ensure that you, and not some crook or prankster, creates the page that's associated with your brand at Facebook. For extra credit, add Facebook to your periodic Web searches to see if anyone is wrongly using your brand name.

As an added payback for my 90 seconds of work, an hour after creating my page, Online Banking Report is the one and only page shown for "banking" searches (see note 2).  

You also have the option of creating pay-per-view or pay-per-click ads to drive traffic to your page. Currently, the advertising is very affordable with prices starting at $0.15 per thousand impressions or $0.01 per click. Ads can be targeted to Facebook demographics.

Notes:

1. When I thought I'd lost my Online Banking Report page, I created a second page for NetBanker here

2. There are many other search results for "banking," but Online Banking Report is currently the only one under the new "Pages" designation. Overall, Facebook search is currently pretty weak, but with the $240 mil from Microsoft, it should be state-of-the art by this time next year.  

Comments (3)

Facebook Battle: Students 1, HSBC 0

By Jim Bruene on October 5, 2007 5:10 PM | Comments (1)

My teenage son has just starting "Facebooking," and he loves it. It's his first foray into social networking, and I can tell he'll be a user for the rest of his life, or at least until something better comes along.

Those of us who are merely parents of social network users often find it difficult to understand its power. In my son's circle, Facebook IS the Internet. It's where every online session begins and ends and where important social connections are made and nurtured. That's why strategic investors such as Microsoft, Google and others are said to be giving Facebook as much as a $10 billion valuation (see previous coverage here).  

All this has enormous implication for every retailer and service company on the planet. It amplifies word of mouth exponentially. Remember the old adage that every disappointed customer tells 10 people about their problem. With the instant broadcasting capabilities, an unhappy customer can now share his/her thoughts with 100+ Facebook friends with a single click (note 1).  

And it's not something that is 15, 10 or even 5 years away. It's happening today. Case in point: this summer HSBC (UK) was forced to reverse a policy change that would have ended a common perk for U.K. student banking accounts, a multi-year grace period for overdraft credit lines with limits up to US$3,000 (see HSBC student page here).

Local students were so taken aback by this change in account terms, they formed a Facebook group called, "Stop the Great HSBC Graduate Rip-Off" (here or see screenshot below). Apparently the group was planning to rally its 5,000 members into a little civil disobedience. The group was hoping to cause customer service headaches by flooding the bank's branches, and overloading teller lines, with student customers asking for detailed explanations of the new fees.

According to news reports (here and here), the bank quickly backed off the rate change and reverted to the liberal interest-free borrowing guidelines.

Implications
You should be using, tracking, analyzing, and brainstorming about how to tap social networks for sales, marketing, service, and recruitment.  

Note:

1. And the simple click-and-complain activity can be broadcast to every friend before the disgruntled customer has a chance to cool down (and/or sober up) and think through the issue in a more rational way.

Comments (1)

Geezeo iWants Facebook Users

By Jim Bruene on September 26, 2007 10:27 PM | Comments

 

I check Facebook about once or twice per week to see what new financial apps have been posted. So far the ones we've looked at include (see previous coverage here):

  • Lending Club's P2P marketplace
  • Prosper's Fantasy Banker
  • PayPal
  • Wesabe
  • Buxfer
  • TD Bank's Split It
  • Obopay's BillMonk

The latest entrant, iWant from online personal finance specialist Geezeo (see screenshot below). iWant is an application that allows Facebook users to share with friends their wants and needs, such as "buy an iPhone" or post more goal-oriented items such as, "pay off my student loans" or "throw a graduation party." And Geezeo ties it up nicely by tapping PayPal's API to facilitate "contributions" to the financial goals. It's also integrated into Geezeo's online personal finance application so users can track their goal progress in real time. ChipIn offers similar payment functionality in its Facebook app (previous coverage here).

I wonder if Geezeo will make a P2P lending play here? If Geezeo's software included a repayment option, the iWant "donors" could easily become iWant "lenders" and a whole new market might open up. 

If you are attending our upcoming FINOVATE conference next week in New York, you'll be able to ask co-founders Peter Glyman and Shawn Ward yourself. We are fortunate to have not only Geezeo, but two other early Facebook innovators, Prosper and Lending Club on the DEMO stage. If you can't make the event, check our website in two weeks for full length videos of each DEMO.

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TD Canada Trust Launches "Split It" on Facebook

By William Azaroff on August 16, 2007 5:20 PM | Comments (8)

While so many FIs are scratching their heads wondering what to do about Facebook, it turns out that TD Canada Trust, one of Canada's biggest banks and the ninth largest bank in North America, is doing all kinds of interesting initiatives there.

What makes their efforts so impressive is that they have clearly tried to figure out the value they add to the demographics of Facebook users. They have managed to strike a balance of being true to their brand, yet not seem like they're pandering to a youthful audience, and offering something of value to the Net Generation.

What first crossed my desk this week was SPLIT IT, an application they created that allows roommates who are on Facebook to manage how they split basic bills.

SPLIT ITSPLIT ITSPLIT IT

Welcome to the SPLIT IT by TD Canada Trust application – a no-hassle, budget-sharing tool that enables you to share bills with your roommates. SPLIT IT makes it easy to determine who owes what, view your balances, and keep on top of your payment dates.

SPLIT IT

The application launched within the past few days. When I first saw it on August 15 it had 44 users. It's grown to 66 a mere 24 hours later. It will be interesting to see where it goes during the  next few weeks. I'm also curious to see how it's promoted. Will TD send information to its youth customers, or will they rely solely on word of mouth?

 SPLIT IT 

SPLIT IT 

After seeing SPLIT IT I was mightily impressed. It's not easy to find a way to add value for Facebook users. From SPLIT IT, I linked through to their Money Lounge, and I was floored. They have job postings, videos, offers, all sorts of ways to engage the Facebook audience. Scrolling down, I noticed that they have 1,480 members of their group. Even if many of the group's members are employees, it's still an impressive engagement metric.

Money Lounge

Money Lounge 

So, well done TD Canada Trust! The first bank to build its own Facebook app.

William Azaroff is the interactive marketing & channel manager at Vancity where he develops interactive marketing initiatives, and pioneered ChangeEverything.ca, the groundbreaking change-themed online community. William also plans strategy for the online channel, with a view to its potential to help Vancity, its members and the community. William brings nine years of experience in Vancouver, Seattle and Los Angeles producing Web projects for such clients as Honda, Disney, Intuit Canada and Nike Jordan. He writes about the intersection of online branding, social media and the world of banking on his blog at azaroff.com/blog

Comments (8)

The Aging of Facebook Makes it a More Appealing Platform for Financial-Services Firms

By Jim Bruene on July 13, 2007 7:25 PM | Comments

Facebook traffic from comScoreDue to Facebook's roots as a college-only social networking site, as recently as last year you had to use a .edu email address to gain admittance, it has remained a young person's playground much longer than MySpace. However, much to the chagrin of my college-age niece and her friends (note 1), Facebook has aged rapidly this year.

As you can see in the inset, in May, comScore reported that more than half of Facebook visitors were 25 or older (see full press release here and note 2). Using this chart, we estimate the median age of a Facebook visitor was about 23 a year ago and now it's closing in on 30 (I'd guess 27 or 28 based on the comScore data). Even more frightening for the younger set: last month there were 2.6 million more unique visitors over age 35 than in the 18-24 category. We noted this trend at MySpace last year (here).

Significance for Banks
As you consider your social networking strategy, don't think it's only for the under-25 crowd. Some of your prime customers, the 30-somethings with new families, new cars, new homes, and accelerating careers, also keep in touch with friends via social networks. Refer to Online Banking Report, Social Personal Finance, for a long-term forecast and strategic options for financial institutions. Also, see our earlier post on the Top-10 Banking & Money apps on Facebook here.

Facebook Lingo Defined
For those of you new to Facebook, Ad Age ran a sidebar off its lead article this week, This 23-Year-Old has Google Sweating, explaining a few key Facebook terms:

  • Minifeed: Like an RSS feed, that automatically updates everyone on your friends list of any changes you make to your profile, including removing items. This feature caused a bit of a revolt, due to privacy issues, when introduced last year. But now it seems to be an important part of the network. It's especially critical for the viral spread of new applications such as Lending Club or Chipin. Unless they opt out, every time a Facebook user adds an application to their account, all their friends are notified in the mini-feed.
  • Poke: The virtual equivalent of smiling at a co-worker passing in the hallway; a way to connect with someone without the more formal protocols of email, text, or voice messaging.   
  • The Wall: A place to write comments on your friends profile, or respond to comments on yours.
  • Tag: Allows users to associate names with the people in the pictures they've posted. As Ad Age says, "a college grads worst nightmare when it comes to the ever-crucial job search."

Notes:

1. This summer, my niece, a college sophomore, couldn't believe that I had a Facebook account. And she was more than a bit skeptical of my claim that I was tracking the social network for my blog and newsletter. To her, it's a privileged place for her friends to communicate: uncles, aunts, and especially parents, are definitely not on the invitation list. It will be interesting to see what happens to the hip kids as the establishment invades their turf. The Wall Street Journal had a similar story this week about fellow workers and even bosses requesting to be added as friends in social networks (here).

2. comScore is reporting the demographic profile of visitors, NOT the active-user base, i.e., those that maintain profiles. Active users would undoubtedly skew younger.

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Top-10 Facebook Money & Banking Applications

By Jim Bruene on July 13, 2007 6:38 PM | Comments (2)

 

After six short weeks, there are 48 applications in Facebook's Money category. At Netbanker we are most interested in the 14 directly related to banking, payments, and lending. So here's the most-used list with the stock trackers, calculators, and shopper apps removed. Lending Club continues to lead the pack as it has since its May 24 launch in conjunction with the new Facebook platform. Applications are listed by number of Facebook users that have added them to their profiles.

Top 10

1. Lending Club by Lending Club >>> 11,012 users

Lending Club enables those in the Facebook community with good credit to easily borrow from each other with a trusted third party managing the process and assessing the risk. Previous coverage here.

2. Fantasy Banker by Prosper >>> 4,674 users

Prosper bills Fantasy Banker as a twist on HOT or NOT, "a fun & educational way to get acquainted with person-to-person lending by betting on whether real-life Prosper loan listings will fund or not." Previous coverage here.

3. My Bucks By Aryeh Goldsmith >>> 3,926 users

A virtual currency called the Facebuck.

4. BillMonk (Obopay) by Charles Groom and others >>> 2,793 users 

BillMonk is an expense tracker specifically designed to track debts and obligations (such as rent) between individuals. Used Facebook APIs long before the F8 platform was announced. Previous coverage here.

5. Buxfer by Shashank Pandit and Ashwin Bharambe >>> 1,482 users

Buxfer is another expense tracker specifically designed for singles sharing households expenses. Previous coverage here.

6. Pay Me by Yellow Media >>> 842 users

Pay Me was developed by a third-party developer to make it easier to initiate PayPal payments right from Facebook. Previous coverage here.

7. ChipIn by ChipIn >>> 830 users

ChipIn is a simple way to collect funds for an event, trip, or anything. Users create a clickable badge that is displayed in their profile. Other Facebook users chip in via the PayPal network. Previous coverage here.

8. PayPal by PayPal >>> 500 users

The official product from PayPal, the division of eBay. So far, merely allows you to easily request money from your Facebook friends. More functions are said to be on the way. Previous coverage here.

9. Ven by Hub Culture  >>> 154 users

Another virtual currency.

10. iSpend by Reman Child and Shawn Gupta >>> 141 users

A new financial tracking app posted last week. 


The Rest
11. Wesabe by Wesabe, Inc. >>> 104 users

The Wesabe Facebook app currently supports group discussions. It is not currently linked into its Web-based personal finance app. Previous coverage here

12. OmniSpense.com by Jonathan Kelly >>> 60 users

The newest expense tracker, appeared in the money category in the past 48 hours, but looks like it may have been posted about 2 weeks ago. 

13. BillTrack Bill Reminder by Michael Irizarry >>> 59 users

Bill Track is built specifically for tracking bills (surprised?). It was posted earlier this week. 


14. My ViCu by Myvicu Master >>> 17 users

Yet another virtual currency.

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PayPal Really Launches on Facebook

By Jim Bruene on July 9, 2007 10:25 AM | Comments

PayPal application shown within a Facebook profile Two weeks ago I heard from PayPal corp communications who felt that my "PayPal launches on Facebook" title was misleading. They had a point. As I explained in the post, the new Facebook app was PayPal-powered but developed by Australia's Yellow Media. The title could have been better.   

However, that's moot now since PayPal has now launched its own app on Facebook (here). It appears to have been posted on July 3 and has 218 users as of this morning. The application provides a simple interface to request and track money requests from Facebook friends (see inset above). Additional functionality is said to be on the way.

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Categories: Epayments, Facebook, PayPal

ChipIn, Another PayPal-powered Application Launches on Facebook

By Jim Bruene on July 9, 2007 9:37 AM | Comments (1)

Link to company Watching the explosion of content, and users, at Facebook, may be the most interesting thing we've seen since the rise of the commercial Web in 1995/1996. Marc Andreessen, not know for hyperbole, had this to say in a lengthy blog posting (here) that should be required reading for all content providers, including banks and credit unions:

(Facebook Platform) is an amazing achievement -- one of the most significant milestones in the technology industry in this decade.

Every time we head over to the Facebook application directory, there's an interesting new financial app. Friday we found ChipIn, a nifty little widget that allows users to post a badge on their Facebook page or website that allows users to contribute money for a certain event or cause. It can be a charitable event such as Vancity's Bike Share program or a private event such as pooling funds for someone's birthday party. ChipIn is the second developer to launch on Facebook using PayPal's engine. The first was PayMe (see our coverage here).

ChipIn <chipin.com> is a Honolulu-based firm formed in mid-2005 with seed funding from CommerceNet. The company emerged from stealth mode in Feb. 2006 and launched its service on the Web in November 2006. The Facebook app launched June 24 and has 415 downloads as of 9 AM this morning, impressive growth compared to the 134 it had on Friday.  

Initially, ChipIn was a full-service payments company, actually holding and managing the funds for users. However, after a few months of those headaches, it outsourced all payments-related functions to PayPal. Check out the Chipin blog for the full company history.

How it Works
Sample chipin badge ChipIn uses the PayPal engine to do the heavy lifting similar to PayMe that we wrote about two weeks ago (here) (see note 1). To create a ChipIn badge on Facebook, users select a Facebook event (created separately within the social network), set the fundraising goal, then customize the text and colors of the widget.

In our test, we created a ChipIn badge with the goal of raising $100 to donate to Vancity's Bike Share program (see screenshot #1 below). Although, we were able to successfully install the widget on our Netbanker Facebook page (see screenshot #3 below), we had trouble with the customization. Every time we moved from the customization step to installation, our changes were lost (note 2).

To use the widget, visitors click on the "chip in" button to launch a PayPal window. Users choose an amount to pay, then login to PayPal, to complete the transaction. A progress bar on the Chipin widget shows the progress towards the fundraising goal. 

With a single click the badge can be placed within an individual's Facebook page (see screenshot #2 below). ChipIn also provides cut-and-paste code to load the badge on any blog or website. ChipIn badges can also be built directly through its website without the need for a Facebook account.

Financial Institution Opportunities
PayMe and Chipin are cool little apps that can and should be sponsored by banks, credit unions, or card issuers. Although the PayPal brand name makes Chipin relatively trustworthy, a widely recognized financial brand would be even better. At this point, ChipIn is still a tiny, relatively unknown company. If I were at a major bank, I'd write them a $50,000 check and have them rename their Facebook app, "Chipin by YourBank," instantly becoming the first bank with an official Facebook app. The company will also build white label versions you could provide to customers for use outside Facebook.  

For more on how to use social networking in financial services, see our Online Banking Report on Social Personal Finance.

Screenshots

1. Simple ChipIn Widget Creation
Using an existing Facebook account and an existing Facebook event, in this case Vancity's Bike Share (thanks to William Azaroff), a new widget can be created and posted to your Facebook profile in about a minute.

2. Facebook Promotion
Once the badge has been created, the Facebook integration provides simple ways to promote the cause. You can invite up to 10 friends each day, post it on your Facebook profile, or cut and paste the code onto your own website or blog. But the key to viral growth is the Facebook mini-feed which automatically notifies all your friends about any Facebook activities, including the addition of the Chipin badge to your profile.

Posted on the NetBanker Facebook Page
Here's how the ChipIn badge looks on my Facebook profile page (here). Note, you'll need to be logged in to Facebook to view.

Notes:

1. PayPal is not the developer of Chipin, nor do they have any financial interest in the company. Chipin is an independent developer using PayPal APIs.

2. Tests conducted on July 5 using Firefox 2.0.

Comments (1)
Categories: ChipIn, Facebook, PayPal

PayPal Launches on Facebook: Who Wants to be the First Bank?

By Jim Bruene on June 22, 2007 10:42 AM | Comments

The social networking phenomena has entered a new phase: eCommerce. It has always been a bit hard to visualize mainstream businesses, like banks, book sellers, or phone companies making a profit on MySpace. It's been a great place for musicians and online dating companies to grab market share, but a MySpace Checking Account didn't seem just around the corner (see MySpace coverage here).  

All that changed May 24, when Facebook opened its network to outside developers, making its service more like Windows than MySpace. Already the service has grown by 3 million users, more than 10%, in the past 4 week, to 27 million (see Facebook profile in today's Wall Street Journal).

More interesting are the 893 new services have opened their doors on the platform. The most popular, Top Friends by Slide, already has 6.4 million users. Yes, that is no typo, in one month a Facebook service grew to more than 6 million users. With traditional marketing, it would have cost a bank or card company as much as $1 billion to attract that many customers assuming acquisition costs of $100 to $150 per new account. 

And it's not just the one app. A new Seattle-based music preference service, iLike, has added 3.8 million. There's not a whole lot happening in commerce apps YET, the first financial company with a service offering, Lending Club (see previous coverage here), is the most popular business app, with just under 10,000 users. That's about what iLike attracts in a busy hour, but for a financial services company, and especially a startup, that's huge, a grand slam using tired baseball metaphors.

For many reasons, it takes longer for traditional companies to pounce on new opportunities. But over the summer we'll start seeing hundreds of businesses launch on Facebook. By next year at this time, the Facebook apps directory will probably look like the New York City Yellow Pages (or at least San Jose).  

Financial Institution Opportunities

Searching the site, we only see four financial services that have launched on Facebook:

  • Lending Club's person-to-person loan marketplace
  • Prosper's lending game
  • Wesabe's personal finance groups
  • Pay Me, a payment service developed by Australian Ad Agency, Yellow Media using the PayPal engine (screenshot below, we'll provide more details once we finish testing it)

But so far there is no:

  • Bank
  • Credit union
  • Credit card issuer
  • Mortgage lender
  • Brokerage (although there are several stock monitoring service including Forbes, Yahoo, and Social Picks)
  • Rates tracking service
  • Credit report monitoring service (though Identity Guard is advertising heavily today)
  • Identity theft protection service

Let the race begin. But you better move faster than you've ever moved before, if you want to get the huge first-mover advantage on the Facebook platform. Good luck.

For more information, see our latest Online Banking Report, Social Personal Finance.

Pay Me on Facebook using PayPal

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Venture Funding Flows to Wesabe and Prosper; Wesabe Launches on Facebook

By Jim Bruene on June 20, 2007 4:15 PM | Comments

Link to Wesabe on Facebook Two potentially disruptive startups, Prosper, the leader in U.S. P2P lending and Wesabe, the first-mover in social personal finance, both announced new funding rounds today:

  • Prosper took in $20 million, bringing total funding to $40 million (previous coverage here)
  • Wesabe added $4 million to its bank account, bringing its funding to $4.7 million (previous coverage here)

These are sizable bets on on niche markets that haven't thrown out a lot of revenues so far. But whether they succeed or not, the money will certainly fund additional innovations that will be educational for those in the banking industry. 

Case in point: Wesabe launched an app on the Facebook platform, becoming the first personal finance company to do so (screenshot below). So far it's a simple front door to their group discussions, but with more development resources, it could become a full-fledged "bank" running within the Facebook community.

For more information on Wesabe refer to our latest Online Banking Report, Social Personal Finance (here).     

Wesabe's application on the Facebook platform

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Categories: Facebook, Prosper, Wesabe

New Person-to-Person Lender, Lending Club, Hopes Facebook Linkage Allows it to Prosper

By Jim Bruene on May 25, 2007 12:13 PM | Comments (1)

Link to Lending Club homepage Just as we are putting the finishing touches on our latest Online Banking Report, which looks at the intersection of personal finance and social networks, a new person-to-person lender launches. And how do they plan to gain traction? Through tight integration with Facebook, the second-largest social network. So we are holding the presses, and adding this important new development to our upcoming report.

We'll have much more on it later, but if you are curious now, login to Facebook and check out Lending Club (the easiest way is to login via the link at the top of the Lending Club homepage). Or read Colin Henderson's great analysis here.  

Last year, Facebook developers created a proof-of-concept personal finance app, originally called Facebank, then changed to MoochSpot (see previous coverage here). That effort was designed to show how third parties could leverage the Facebook API to create new services. It didn't take long for someone to take the bait. Within a few weeks, BillMonk created an interface to Facebook to support their expensing tracking service, now owned by Obopay. Buxfer also supports login via Facebook's username/password (post here), but does not link into the social network as yet.

But Lending Club is the first to leverage the Facebook interface to support actual financial transactions, in this case lending/borrowing. The company is modeled after Prosper. Lending Club timed its launch to coincide with the Facebook developer's meeting and launch of Facebook Platform.

We'll be testing it during the next few days and will report back on whether its a challenge to mainstream lending, or merely blog fodder. Given the rising power of social networks, my guess is the former. 

LendingClub homepage from outside Facebook

LendingClub homepage mockup

LendingClub homepage from inside Facebook

LendingClub page inside Facebook

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Facebook Launches MoochSpot, a "Social Loan" Tracker

By Jim Bruene on September 8, 2006 10:11 AM | Comments

Facebook_moochspot_logo_1 In mid-August, Facebook, the popular social networking site aimed at college students, alums, and now a few select corporations has released a simple personal finance application. The original name was FaceBank (see screenshot at bottom of article), but recently it was renamed MoochSpot (click on screenshot below for closeup).

MoochSpot allows Facebook users to loan (i.e., spot), borrow (mooch), and settle debts with other Facebook users. At this point there is no payment capabilities, so the money must change hands through other methods.

Here's how it works:

  1. Create a "piggy bank" to track the funds
  2. Select a Facebook friend from the list that automatically shows in the MoochSpot list (note, in our screenshot below, we don't have any predesignated friends, so the list is empty)
  3. Enter the amount of the loan
  4. (Optional) Enter a reason for the loan

Facebook_moochspot_main

Analysis
MoochSpot was developed, not because of huge user demand to track personal debts, but to showcase the type of application that can be built by outside developers using the recently released Facebook APIs. MoochSpot is highlighted on the Facebook developer's page <developers.facebook.com>.

Billmonk_facebookBillMonk, the self-proclaimed "social money" site which allows debts to be split and tracked via website or mobile phone (see NB Apr 30), is the first financial services provider to jump on the bandwagon and create Facebook integration (in inset, see Facebook login in lower-right of BillMonk's homepage). We tried on several computers to get it to work and were unable to get past the Facebook login. We'll check back in a few days to see if they have the bugs worked out.

Financial institutions looking to create online banking sites that click with college students should pay close attention to BillMonk and MoochSpot. It would be relatively simple for a bank to use the Facebook API to develop even more powerful payment applications that combine the loan-tracking benefits of MoochSpot with actual epayment capabilities to move money back and forth among friends. While it wouldn't do anything that Paypal doesn't do today, the integration within online banking is important.

But the biggest reason to integrate with Facebook, MySpace, or any other 20-something social network is because it positions yourself as a bank or CU that understands the younger generation. And make sure you have genuine 20-somethings designing the marketing and writing the blog copy.

Appendix:

Below is the original FaceBank application prior to changing the name to MoochSpot:

Facebank_lend

Facebank_borrow

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