Thursday, 7 October 2010
ASB opens first Facebook bank branch in the world
Three weeks ago ASB in New Zealand opened the doors (or whatever you term the online equivalent, launched I guess) to Facebook's first online bank branch. On my company site I blogged some months back about the potential for Facebook to become a major player in banking services and what ASB have done is recognise that potential and faced it head on, moving their services on to the social network. It's a brave move in the FS industry, but one that was inevitable.
Last week I tried the branch out. It's a very simple service. At its heart it's an online chat interface built directly into Facebook. There are a selection of advisers to choose to talk to, all of whom are named and photographed individuals, to increase the person to person appeal that is the hallmark of social networking and you are able to choose from those available to chat.
I spoke to Elysse to find out how the launch was going? She was friendly, personable and very knowledgable and stated there had been considerable interest in the service. Although ASB are at present unable to offer services to those overseas, she said they had had considerable contact from New Zealand travellers who were able to sort out their issues quickly and easily through Facebook.
I then went on to have a brief Twitter chat with Anna Curzon the General Manager, Internet Banking for ASB who confirmed the interest
That second statement really underlines the point of introducing this branch concept in to Facebook. In a time impoverished and globalised environment brands need to be in the places their customers are. Financial services brands are definitely behind the curve in following that trend, but ASB has made a huge step forward.
While the services through the ASB Facebook branch are currently limited the mere fact that they are there speaks volumes for their foresight and ambition. This is a bold first move and we’re sure it will be the first of many. I'm keping a firm eye on whether ASB benefits from first mover advantage.