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New Age Banking: ICICI Launches New Facebook Payment App ‘Pockets’

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Banking is one thing I have always had trouble with since childhood. How to get a demand draft issued? Where is the cheque number in the cheque? Why are the white slips different from the yellow and pink slips? And you can imagine my respite when banks started going the digital way – online banking has transformed the way banking was ever imagined.

Exploiting every new technology that has been created, banking has become one of the friendliest and easiest industries to handle – online and offline both. And the only way they could do it is reinventing them and constantly changing as per the demands of the society.

India’s largest private sector bank, ICICI Bank, has done exactly the same. The Bank, which has a network of 3,350 branches and 10,486 ATM’s in India, and a presence in 19 countries, has now launched a Facebook app ‘Pockets’, to enable its customers to transact directly from the social networking site.

Pockets By ICICI Bank

With the target audience clearly being the youth and the gen-next, the new app will allow money transfer, mobile recharge and even book movie tickets from their Facebook pages. The best part is there would be no additional surcharge of using this payment gateway.

What’s more is: It allows the customers to split and track group expenses and share them with their friends on the social media site. For pending payments, even reminders can be sent to friends via the app.

For every new transaction, the bank would send a one-time password which would expire within a certain time-limit (a OTP), just to make the transaction more secure. It also uses 128 bit encryption which keeps customer information safe and runs on https, making transactions secure.

Chanda Kochhar, the bank’s MD and CEO, believes: “The app will enable young consumers who spend a lot of time on Facebook to carry out a wide set of transactions without having to leave the social media site.” Her statement makes more sense when it is realized that one-third of the bank’s customers are under the age of 30 and this target-group would either play Subway Surfer on their mobiles or be active on Facebook. Facebook has nearly 95 million users across India and close to 65 million of them are below the age of 30 years and thus this move by ICICI Bank perfectly gels with the current demographics and trends of Indian youth.

According to a comScore “2013 India Digital Future in Focus” report, “86% of web users are visiting the site and 217 minutes are being spent on Facebook by an average user,” thus making perfect sense for any industry to be present where its maximum customers are. Not only will the perception of banks being ‘unfriendly’ to the youth fade away, it will also establish ICICI Bank as a trend-setter to spearhead the changing touch-points of today’s youth.

Last year, ICICI Bank had launched the Facebook app ‘Your Bank’, allowing customers to view their saving account details and statements on the social media site plus order cheque books.

While national behemoths like State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank and Canara Bank are mostly resting on their laurels (read: huge customer base), private banks are leaving no stone unturned to be in sync with their customers and the trends. No wonder gen-next prefers private banks which do ‘Khayal Aapka.’ This move would undoubtedly push the limits of mobile banking in India!

  1. […] India’s leading private sector bank- ICICI Bank, has now launched a new NFC-based mobile payment system enabling contactless transactions via its Pockets app. […]

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