ICICI Bank launches Pockets, allowing users to transact through Facebook

In India, Facebook has over 82 Mn users and 40% of those are under 30. ICICI Bank has come up with an initiative to capitalize on this and is targeting the youth to transact through Facebook.

ICICI Bank launched Pockets yesterday in India. Pockets is an app which allows users to carry out regular banking services on Facebook. At the time of launch, Chanda Kochhar, Managing Director & CEO of ICICI Bank said, The Bank has always been at the forefront of technological innovation in banking. With the launch of ‘Pockets by ICICI Bank’, we bring the most comprehensive banking app on Facebook globally. This innovation is in line with our philosophy of 'Khayaal Aapka' wherein we offer products and services which make banking easier and more convenient for our customers. ‘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.

We have added a promotional video from ICICI Bank that highlights the uses of Pockets app on Facebook:

Source: ICICI Bank

Some of the features which are inbuilt in the ’Pockets’ app include:

1. Split ‘n’ Share – Users get to split payments with their friend or a group of friends. The need for this feature can be seen when you go out with your friend/s have a meal and decide to split payments.

2. Pay a friend – Transferring payments in India means a user needs to know the receiver’s bank account details such as Account Number, Bank Branch, IFSC Code, etc. Pockets app claims to redeem electronic coupons which can be redeemed on its banks’ website. You can see a video below on how this feature works.

Source: ICICI Bank

3. Top up mobile talk time – Users in India who are on a prepaid payment plan, can top up their mobile talk time through the app

4. Book movie tickets – The app claims to allow users to book movie tickets with their Facebook friends. Helping users to skip the wait queues and walk in to a movie hall with friends.

5. Traditional banking services – Users can view their bank statements, order a cheque book, open a fixed or recurring deposit with ICICI Bank, etc.

A Facebook user, interested in using Pockets app needs to fill in his/her bank account details before the app is fully functional. Bank account details include, card number and card PIN.

Last month, ICICI Bank launched an SMS based rail ticket booking for its customers. Users send SMS to a designated number and the ticket amount gets debited from the user’s bank account. The Pockets app, doesn’t have such a feature yet. There may be a possibility that ICICI Bank will integrate ticket booking services for public transportation like Rail, Bus and Air.

The features currently integrated in the app are mostly targeted towards providing an ‘ease of use’ customer experience. One of the other attributes that a user sees before switching to new options for making payments is ‘security.’

ICICI Bank claim to have used 128 bit encryption to safeguard a user’s account details. They also claim to have incorporated One Time Password (OTP) feature when a transaction is initiated by a user.

LTP View: In January, 2013 Business Insider reported that 90 percent of the password used on social networking sites are vulnerable to hacking. 600,000 impostors try to hack into Facebook account every day. Last year, it was reported that 6.5 Mn Linkedin user’s passwords were leaked online. This brings us to take a look at the issue of security of banking through social media seriously. Such initiatives of Banks’ bringing in ease of use to its customers are a welcome move. It is yet to be seen if an impostor can hack into a user’s Facebook account with such app’s installed and compromise account details. If this does happen, users may say no to banking through social media. Launch of such apps may also encourage other banks in India to come up with such initiatives on Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, etc. Technology does provide answers to tackle security issues and if leveraged properly it can do wonders to online transactions.