Do Banks really need to have a Facebook app for money transfers?

Banks are trying hard to become increasingly customer focused. After years of technological transformation, service levels are high on their agenda and thats a very good thing. Use of B2C social media is on an all time high, and they have Facebook pages with huge fan following. Some of them do 5k to 20k conversations per month. Bank's marketing folks see it as an amazing channel to engage with the customers and offer them another platform to interact with the bank. Does all this also act as qualifying factors for banks to launch specialized apps on Facebook to do money transactions?

More than 5 banks and several payment (and related) firms think so. American banks are also thinking about providing Facebook based Money apps but not much has been seen.

Africa - First National Bank of South Africa

First national bank has tied its mobile banking application to Facebook. It enables the users to run the application in the social media site itself without leaving it. To access banking through Facebook, customers need to link their social media profiles to their mobile number. Once linked they can access the 'FNB Banking on Facebook’ application. They can check their balances, purchase prepaid products including airtime, SMS and BlackBerry bundles, and view Lotto and PowerBall results.

Australia - CommBank

CommBank of Australia was the first Facebook app by a bank in Australia. Its called CommBank Kaching Facebook app. It makes banking in Facebook possible without leaving the platform. It enables customers to make peer-to-peer payments to Facebook friends list, by using their mobile phone number or email address as identifier. It also allows to make payments to Facebook Events, send gift payments or 'request' a payment from a Facebook friend. The customer can also check account balances, transaction history and transfer money between your accounts.

India - ICICI bank launched a Facebook app which allows its customers to check account information and transact. According to MD of the bank '‘Pockets by ICICI Bank’ will enable the 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.

Canada - RBC

RBC already had a Facebook app. It worked with Facebook to enhance its RBC Canada app to allow customers to send Interac electronic transfers to their contacts on Facebook Messenger. Interac e-Transfer, a Canadian online service enabling the transfer of money from one person's bank account to another person's bank account, is available through more than 200 financial institutions. It enables RBC’s customers to select a friend or family member from their Facebook Messenger friend list, transfer the funds via Interac e-Transfer from their RBC bank account and send a message to the recipient. Receiver will get it in Facebook Messenger inbox. Receiver can than log in to the financial institution of their choice to deposit the funds. The advantage in this case is a widely used universal system Interac e-Transfer which allows people to send money without thinking too much.

New Zealand - ASB Bank

The bank launched a mobile payments app that enables users to send money to friends through Facebook. They have even updated it a few times. 'More than two million New Zealanders are on Facebook, and many of them are managing their lives through social media channels,' says general manager brand experience and digital channels, Anna Curzon. 'Payments through Facebook are the next logical step in our banking services, allowing our customers to make quick and easy payments to Facebook 'friends', without the hassle of asking for bank account numbers.'

US banks have not shown much interest Citigroup in the US surveyed its Facebook users with a provocative question. If you could do your banking on Facebook -- would you? but the bank has really not done much after that. Except a Facebook application that lets users team up to use their points, whether it's for charity, a group gift or a personal goal. Even for the 4-5 banks (globally) mentioned above, the outcomes are not very clear.

Its yet to be seen if there is clear benefit to the customer and a good case for the bank.

Non banking Facebook apps

  • Lending Club

Lending Club is one of the most popular Facebook app in payments space. It allows the user to reach out to its facebook community and with a good credit, easily borrow from each other with a trusted third party managing the process and assessing the risk.

  • Fantasy Banker

It is a Prosper app and does person-to-person lending by betting on whether real-life Prosper loan listings will fund or not

  • Pay Me

Pay Me was developed by a third-party developer called Yellow Media. It helps to initiate PayPal payments right from Facebook.

  • ChipIn

ChipIn is a simple way (through a Facebook app) to receive funds for an trip, or event. Users create a clickable badge that is displayed in their profile. Other Facebook users chip in via the PayPal network.

  • PayPal in the US

There is an official Facebook app from PayPal. It just allows you to easily request money from your Facebook friends. Updates have been expected for sometime now