Last week, I covered Finovate Europe 2012 live on the Visible Banking blog. At the end of another long day packed with innovative digital services and platforms, I managed to record a short interview with one of the demoing companies, Currency Fair.
The company demoed its P2P marketplace where members can 'trade' currencies on their own terms.
I invite you to watch my video with Currency Fair's CEO.
Last night, I exchanged a few emails with Jon Gaskell - Co-Founder of Smartypig. Jon gave me the heads up and informed me of today's major announcements from the Des Moines-based leader in online goal-oriented social savings.
I launched the Visible Banking Blog back in February 2007, almost three years ago... Time really flies. Since my first post, I have always aimed to share with you my passion, my views, and some unique insights on social media in the Finance industry: not only Banking, but also Financial Services, Credit Cards, Asset Management, Investment Banking, Private Banking, Insurance... I should start considering to rebrand, don't you think? ;) Your views and suggestions are more than welcome.
Last month, I started to contact some of the passionate, and highly knowledgeable, people I met (online and/or offline) over the last 34 months throughout the world, during my speaking engagements, my business trips, on linkedin, on twitter or via my blog. I invited them to contribute on VB. I was delighted with the extremely positive and warm responses. Thank you all.
My key goal is to provide you with some second-to-none insights of social media and financial services all over the world, and to give this experts another plateform to share their knowledge and their views. I have also started to schedule another type of contribution focused on specific topics such as reputation management or "anger management" (detractors involved): loads of highly exciting topics, stay tuned!
I have already confirmed 5 contributors from Australia, Spain, Germany, Russia and Spain. If you are interested, please do not hesitate to call me, send me an email, or contact me on twitter or linkedin!
Let me introduce the first ever guest blogger on Visible Banking: Gidi Dorevitch, Senior Analyst - Banking & Finance at Adkit. Gidi and his colleagues contacted me earlier this year, just before my business trip to Israel to help Bank Hapoalim better understand the opportunities offered by social media. Gidi conducts bespoke research projects for Adkit's Banking clients in Israel: "As a senior banking analyst in Adkit – an Israeli research firm focused on global business information and best practice – I help Israeli banks keep up to date with innovative marketing and operations among banks from around the world."
Guest Post - Overview of Social Media & Banking in Israel Due to the fierce competition, Israeli banks - and especially their retail arms - are keen to implement trends and innovations from North American and European contemporaries, hoping to gain a larger market share. In this context, social media comes into consideration as a powerful tool, capable of assisting the banks to reach a wide range of marketing goals: recruit new customer segments, preserve existing customers, drive customers to online channels, enhance cross sales, and more.
Social media is viewed here as powerful especially since Israelis are generally very fond of technology and innovations. A very high penetration rate of cellular phones (123.7%, during 2008, according to Merrill Lynch) and computers, a culture which encourages innovation (see, for example, the high number of active Israeli start-ups), and the Israeli desire for instant satisfaction, all contribute to the popularity of social media in the country. This is especially noticed among youth & generations X,Y , who are very social media orientated – regularly using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogging platforms, SMS, email, instant messaging, talkback platforms, virals, and local Israeli social platforms as well.
Israel's retail banking market includes two leading banks (Leumi, Hapoalim), three mid-sized banks (Discount, Mizrahi Tefahot, First International), and about six additional smaller banks, mostly catering a specific customer segment, by profession, geography, or religion. Compared to the large customer base in other countries, the overall customer base in Israel is indeed small. Bank Leumi, the country's largest bank, needs only 240 branches and approx. 11,000 workers to cater its 1.7 million customer base.
Naturally, in order to be successful, social media activity depends on regular usage patterns by as many participants as possible. Despite the social media habits of Israelis, due to the rather narrow potential user base, succeeding in a social media endeavor is definitely not trivial. There is no doubt that some of the Israeli banks social media activity is based on a "me too" strategy, and on a will to brand themselves as "up to date", while a different part of their activity stems from the will to experiment and gain more experience in the field. However, it does seem like there will be more and more of this is the future – as indicate the following recent examples of the banks' social media activity:
Facebook – Targeting the student segment – as the Israeli academic school year started in October, both bank Discount and Bank Hapoalim launched marketing campaigns focused on Facebook and Twitter activity. By promoting social challenges and giving away forty 1,250$ 'scholarships' (Hapoalim) or thousands of tickets to stand-up shows and hotel vouchers (Discount bank), the banks hoped Facebook will help them "enhance brand awareness, recruit new customers, and "Establish an ongoing relationship with students, while understanding all of their academic and non-academic needs" as said by Bank Hapoalim officials.
Computer hardware giveaway – Since Israeli banks are allowed to give new customers a "joining gift", instead of the old fashioned "umbrella" or "toaster oven", banks today give away mini laptops (Leumi, Mizrahi Tefahot), advanced disk-on-key (Discount), and the complimentary free SMS services to the newbie's. There is also serious buzz about banks planning to give customers free I-phones in the near future.
Blogging and Twitting – Corporate responsibility, clearness – Bank Leumi recently launched a new corporate blog, updated weekly with posts by the bank's CEO, the bank's chief spokesperson, and various employees – ranging from Marketing VP, to simple mortgage advisors. Leumi also re-launched its active Twitter account (over 660 followers). The launch was accompanied by an online "day trader" investment game, with above 6,000 participants. Enrolling to the game involved registration, and participants from other banks received phone calls from the bank, encouraging them to switch to Leumi. Another good example of an Israeli bank well into blogging is Jerusalem Bank – This small bank, with only 110,000 customers and 16 branches, maintains an active Twitter account (1,077 followers) and an active blog (running for almost two years already). The tweets serve to cater for customer questions, and for handing out free giveaways to followers who answer informative questions about the bank. On Nov. 22nd, Bank HaPoalim recently launched a twitter account PoaliMarkeTweet, focused on ongoing updates form the Israeli Stock market. After a single week, the account already had 480 followers.
Multi channel strategy – A few of the Israeli banks are currently process of imitating Mizrahi Tefahot's unique and successful multi-channel customer management strategy, called "Mizrahi Tefahot LIVE" (introduced about two years ago): Customers who enroll, are no longer associated with a specific physical bank branch, but rather assigned a designated personal banker, who works from a call center, and is available around the clock via video-chat, e-mail, SMS, and messenger. In order to promote the bank, during November Mizrahi-Tefahot launched a marketing campaign focused targeting customers from other banks. An important aspect of the campaign was a viral video and a few e-mail messages, which Israelis were encouraged to pass on to friends. People who e-mailed the message to more friends, raised their chance to win prizes.
Social Media Initiatives - Bank Leumi - blog & twitter, Jerusalem Bank - blog & twitter, Bank HaPoalim's student facebook page, Bank HaPoalim's twitter account dedicated to the Financial Markets, Bank HaPoalim student facebook page, Discount for students on facebook...
Last week has been an important week for SmartHippo.com the first-ever website that uses the power of community to help consumers find the best mortgage rates and save money launched its beta version back in September 2007. Not only they introduced their new CEO Lori Collins, who was one of SH's founding Advisory Board members as well as the former GM at LendingTree, but they also announced the launch of HipoListo.es, their new Joint-Venture with Financialred in Spain.
"The web finance space is in its infancy in Spain and we believe we have an opportunity to rapidly establish HipoListo as the dominant player in a market of 50 million consumers" said Jesus Perez, Chief Strategy Officer of FinancialRed. "By leveraging the SmartHippo platform we were able to significantly reduce our time to market."
I believe the HipoListo Team hans't started blogging yet. It is interesting to see two different approaches to Social Media and Advocacy which in Spain reflects the local market adoption of twitter: SmartHippo is focused on twitter, whereas HipoListo is focused on Facebook.
It is a Small Small World I love the Social Media / Online Inovation space in the Financial Services industry. It is such a small world. I met George through Jim, I first got in touch with Jesus when he was working at BBVA and I was Senior Innovation Manager at Lloyds TSB, and while I was in NYC three weeks ago to cover Finovate 2009, I met with one of Jesus' colleagues, José Ruiz Cristina - Chief Strategy Officer at Financialred and Avi Karnani the Co-Founder of Thrive and now VP Strategic Innovation at LendingTree, Lori's former employer. I LOVE my job!
SmartHippo is not the only innovative startup in online finance which recently launched outside the US: in the last 12 months Wesabe partnered with the Telegraph in the UK and SmartyPig partnered with ANZ in Australia.
"As a listening and learning organisation, UBA's official
twitter and facebook pages are focused on ensuring that we proactively
engage you - your complaints, enquiries, feedback, etc. The results have been amazing!"
I love this approach from UBA in Nigeria. It is great to see such a
positive, smart and transparent approach to social media from an
African bank. Well done UBA! And no I am not biased, even though I was born in Africa! ;)
So, what are you using Social Media for? To all my readers, please send me the links to any similar announcements from Financial Institutions all over the world.
Nowadays, it is critical to monitor online discussions on your products, your brand, your competitors and your industry. Brands must show they listen, acknowledge that people's expectations have changed, and demonstrate that they care.
About UBA UBA Plc
is one of Africa’s leading financial institutions offering universal
banking to more than 7 million customers in Africa, New York, Paris
& London. (source: UBA's official twitter account)
Social Media & Financial Institutions in Africa UBA is not the only financial institution in Africa which is doing
a good job embracing social media: I always use First National Bank's
FNB Premier Banking page
when I share my best practices on Facebook: not only they produce
interesting and fresh content, but most of the time they respond to
their fans, and their CEO, Robert Keip, even spent some time shooting a video to welcome Facebook's users. Refreshing and brilliant.
I could also talk about other South African banks such as Standard Bank (twitter accounts & blogs), FNB (RbJAcobs' twitter account and facebook page), or ABSA's facebook page...
It is interesting to notice that detractors in South Africa are smartly leveraging social media too. I invite you to check the Standard Blank initiative initiated by a few angry customers earlier this year.
Their more and more popular twitter accounts and online community on Ning helped them gain some good exposure online.
Social Media Watch Please note that I am tracking over 1,000 social media initiatives on my Visible Banking Social Media Watch Series: * VB Twitter Watch (732 accounts, 38 countries) * VB Facebook Watch (243 pages/groups/apps, 37 countries) * VB Blog Watch (135 blogs, 17 countries) * VB YouTube Watch (167 channels, 23 countries)
I invite you to check my social media directory which is the most comprehensive list in the finance industry. And please don't hesitate to flag any missing initiatives!
I believe it is the best event focused on Online Banking I ever attended: the quality of the audience is amazing (almost entirely of senior executives from the leading European banks, as well as more and more banks from the Middle East and the Asia Pacific region), and the presentations are insightful and "hands-on".
And Jim Bruene's Finovate days are the best events in Online Finance: it is the best opportunity to meet the most innovative startups around.
Key speakers This year, the line up looks excellent again. Well done Philippe!
Please note there are only three speakers from last year: * Dennis Pereira, Head of Online Sales - SNS Bank, Netherlands * Barbara Roels, Head of Remote and One to One Channels - Fortis Bank, Belgium * myself ;)
The importance of conducting business through online channels (including the Internet and mobile services) continues to grow, bringing with it new technologies and new functionalities. These have had an impact on customer behaviour and expectations.
The conference will also look at issues such as: * What is the best business model for direct online channels? Could examples from other sectors be applied to the financial sector? * How can banks use new technologies to create richer customer interactions? What impact do Web 2.0 social networks have on financial services? * How can online channels be made safer?
Special interest I very much look forward to attend to Tony's presentation on "How Web 2.0 can help large financial institutions through the current crisis" and Tim's presentation on "Natural selection in media...if Charles Darwin had a blog". I love this title.
I also look forward to participating to the session 2 on Thursday 6 November. Please find below the topics we will cover: • How to encourage customers to use online channels and for which functions? How to help advise customers in their use of online channels? • How to integrate the Internet channel into the multichannel approach to maximize both customer satisfaction and sales? • How can banks use new technologies to create richer customer interactions? What impact do Web 2.0 socialnetworks have on financial services? What about usability and design, online video, account aggregation,…
Retail Banking Innovations 2008 aims to address new frontiers in the industry and the changing concept of retail banking and consumer finance in the Asia Pacific region – with a highly content-driven and provocative agenda.
I am particularly interested in the following ones: * What is a viable business model for emerging technologies? * Straying from conventional wisdom: innovators in retail banking * What does banking for the next generation entail? * How can retail bankers keep the attention of their increasingly fickle customer? * Content to the people – leveraging the online channel
Key speakers (01/09/08) I am delighted to be part of this excellent line up. I very much look forward to spending some time with my peers, and sharing my vision on social media and online innovations with them.
Interview with Robin Nakamura, SVP eBusiness at First National Bank It was great to catch up with the excellent Robin Nakamura. I met Robin for the first time in March 2007 at the online_banking_summit_2007 conference where we were both speaking. Both times, her presentations were best-of-the-show. Congratulations Robin!
Robin is an advocate for customer experience excellence, transparency, and customer advocacy.
“Christophe's book is really the must-have synopsis of the current state-of-play in social media in banking. Christophe has taken a deep passion for the topic, and turned it into an account of the landscape valuable to anyone who has social media responsibilities in financial services” James Gardner, General Manager at Spigit
“Christophe is extremely well informed about the banking and financial services industries. He's at all the right conferences, and digs deep with his interviews of all the influencers and innovators. He's also a tremendously nice guy :-)” Aaron Patzer, Founder & CEO at Mint Software
“Christophe seems to have his finger on the pulse of the financial services industry. Visible Banking has become "the" source of information for innovations in the financial services industry.” Tim Collins, SVP-Experiential Marketing at Wells Fargo