Russia’s PSBank Aims to Set New Standard for Banks on Facebook

Back in Q1 2011, my team started to track how financial institutions are leveraging facebook.  Now, we track over 1,300 pages and apps in 77 countries as part of our Visible Banking Facebook Watch series.

The usual suspects when you think of innovation on Facebook in banking and financial services are the likes of American Express or Chase.  I personally love the level of engagement on CIMB Malaysia‘s page or thecrowdsourcing apps from Danske Bank or Nykredit and I salute the effort in social customer care of Interbank Peru.

But innovation on facebook doesn’t necessarily come from the US or the booming APAC and LATAM regions.  As usual, even -or shall I say especially- in banking, it is driven by people, and defined by a vision.

Last month, my friend Daniel Gusev – Head of Innovation at PSBank wrote a guest post on the Visible Banking blog which I entitled ‘Promsvyazbank Aims to Create the First Social Bank in Russia‘. In the last few weeks Daniel kept me posted on PSBank’s facebook activity, and I am keen to share two recent initiatives with you.The PSBank Team are passionate about contextual knowledge around finance.  They quickly realized they needed to become more than just bankers which led them to define the experiential curve that would move their customers rather than simply sollicitate them with ‘attractive’ APRs and other discounts.PSBank Launches an App to Drive Crowdfunding
PSBank-BadgeThey applied that notion to a recent small pilot that successfully demonstrated people’s desire to: 1. support a noble cause and 2. act based on feedback and actions of other people.PSBank has been a long time supporter of one of Russia’s fund dedicated to aid orphans, and they decided to go from simply funneling money to the fund to take care directly of those patients. They created a simple functionality (based on the PicBadge API which allows a branded badge to be added to a facebook profile picture) which give the opportunity to PSBank’s facebook fans to change their profile pictures as well as transfer money to each of the patients PSBank supports (via the bank’s authenticated and secure iBanking service).None of those two services are unique, and as a matter of fact they are both available to all the other financial institutions.  But leveraging those services helped PSBank release this initiative without making any investment or having to create a standalone payments enabled crowdfunding portal ‘a la BBVA Friends and Family‘.How PSBank Delivered this Project
1. They moved to direct «content» curation, where people associate a noble cause with their beliefs and standard of behaviour
2, They rolled out a simple feedback loop, where they regularly reported the total amount of money received on daily basis, and how much additional money was still neededI believe this project helped the bank not only to fully cover the medical assistance costs needed for their patients; but also to make them appreciate first-hand that it is not the technology that brings revenue, but your understanding of people’s behavior which could be improved with simple «feedback loops».It was a valuable learning exercise.  And it was done cleverly.  And bear in mind that the bank tapped into a trusted and active community (in this case facebook), they hardly spent any money on this project and only invested 1 FTE to pilot it.  Most crowdfunding initiatives fail because the bank tries to create a separate online community / social network or the initiative’s poor quality of content without curation / community management.

PSBank Embeds IP Call Service to its Facebook page
PSBank-CallBackThe innovation team  have implemented an IP call functionality on their facebook page this late December.  The serice is provided byZingaya, a small and dynamic startup.

This was done in just three days, which is very fast for a bank.  Apparently, the bank’s facebook fans showed a very positive response: according to Daniel the PSBank team are ‘happy it had found success with their customers’.  They received close to 50 calls from an installed base of about 5000 facebook subscribers.

It is a big win for the innovation team.  They spent only a dozens of US dollars for the pilot and allocated a 3 man-day job to set up the service and agree on contractual terms, technical architecture etc…

Obviously, a much more siginificant investment would be required for an industrial, fully scalable, solution.

How PSBank Delivered this Project
– They went straight to social media platforms like facebook rather than their site: they see it as a natural step forward, knowing that people would want to communicate with them on their own turf, rather than on a cranky bank site.
– The timing was impeccable: they displayed the service prominently at the end of the year, when most of their customers went abroad, and were eager for a toll-free way to talk with their bank.  Daniel share a good case where a customer was stuck in London with his card blocked and he had his problem solved in a timely manner via Facebook.
– They chose the best partner for this small innovative feature.

Takeaway for the Banking World
– Traditional channels are not dying, they are mingling: connecting a standard call-centre with a new social media channel, where you would not normally expect people to talk, works.  Speaking is social, isn’t it?
– Working with audacious small startups often provides some surprising insights you would not get from bigger, well established, vendors.
– Banks like PSBank are committed to prove financial institutions that their key goal for being on facebook should be to offer a new way of doing banking, and not just marketing or selling products and services.

And Daniel promised me there is a lot more innovation on facebook to come from PSBank this year.

So, what are YOUR GOALS on facebook for 2012?  Are you planning to provide social customer care services directly on your page via the wall or a dedicated app?

What do you think?

Written by Christophe Langlois

Based in London for almost a decade, Christophe is an entertaining fintech marketing keynote speaker and a trusted advisor to the global financial services industry on the topics of digital marketing, innovation and B2B social media.

Christophe has contributed to over 140 events in 18 countries.

Currently, Christophe is advising a number of fintech startups on marketing and growth hacking and he is the Chief Marketing Officer of The Fintech Power 50, an exclusive annual programme helping fintech scale-ups to accelerate their growth globally.

Christophe's views on are his own.

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