Friday, 18 February 2011

It started with a tweet

This week National Australia Bank (NAB) launched a campaign that looked particularly unbanky. Choosing Valentine’s Day as their launch date @NAB tweeted this rather cryptic teaser (on 11th February):

They followed this with a tweet on Valentine’s Day linking to a video of the bank writing their break up letter

The bank is trying to separate itself forcefully in both proposition and use of these social platforms to create complete differentiation. The campaign is also supported by a Facebook page and they are curating all the content relating to the bank on their dedicated site. On both their Twitter stream and their Facebook page they have transformed the environment to field customer enquiries and certainly it would appear that they are being managed by Bank employees rather than an agency to fulfil that remit.

This launch has resulted in 78% of all online conversations around banking in Australia containing reference to NAB which is undeniably huge. Interestingly the launch came in the same week that Ovum released research suggesting retail banks are still resisting social media and with some banks still viewing online activity as highly dangerous NAB's move is certainly bold. There is little peer comparison possible in the UK where the closest we have currently is probably First Direct, which interestingly has recently stopped running live sentiment on their First Direct Live site, but is now using both Twitter and Facebook more effectively.

I take my hat off to @NAB for this fresh approach. I'll be watching the campaign follow-up with interest . When the budget's there to support a strong campaign theme using social platforms the momentum can be fantastic. The proof comes in what those social platforms are used for beyond that initial burst.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Contactless mobile payments closer to a reality

Over the last few weeks there have been a flurry of much firmer announcements suggesting there will be a significant roll out of Near Field Communications (NFC) services across the UK, but with a real focus on scaling up for the Olympics in 2012.

Google's Nexus S has been making a lot of headlines for a few months. Built as a mass market smartphone its integral NFC chip has got tongues wagging. However, two recent announcements have meant the NFC subject's exploded into life.

First was Orange's partnership announcement with Barclaycard that will mean Everything Everywhere customers will be able to take advantage of what is claimed to be the UK's first mobile payments service. NFC hasn’t been embraced by lots of brands yet, but is already installed in Pret a Manger, Little Chef and National Trust, however the roll out gathered pace with McDonalds announcing they would be implementing the technology and Everything Everywhere stated that the proposition could definitely extend to T-Mobile customers. With O2 having already tested mobile contactless transport payments as a replacement for Oyster Cards it's a fair assumption that they may well be next up as it would be a comfortable fit with their O2 Money product.

The second big announcement was from Apple who would appear to be shaping up to make mobile payments a key launch message for both the iPad 2 and the iPhone 5. The firm states that both devices are being built with NFC chips installed. It is more than likely the payment system would integrate with iTunes which already holds users' card details and while it's probably going to launch first in the states, pressure from payment service providers in the UK as terminals grow in number will see the move to the UK quickly.

This move to the UK will undoubtedly be galvanised by the 2012 Olympics which seems to be shaping up to be the 'mobile Games' with many of the food outlets and transport hubs aiming to be fully contactless enabled and also BlackBerry announcing their intentions to join the game.