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Which banks are embracing social media?

Recently Steve Ellis asked why more banks aren't stepping up to the challenge of social media.

It's true, few banks seem willing to embrace social media and other Web 2.0 tools, but there are a few innovators taking the first steps in Australia.

Bryan Inch is one of the few Australian bankers blogging regularly to customers. As head of financial services for Rabobank Australia & New Zealand, Inch regularly communicates with customers and responds to their comments on the RaboPlus blog.

Inch and I joined a panel of social media innovators at last month's ad:tech Sydney conference to identify some of the obstacles facing the financial services sector as it considers whether to adopt Web 2.0 tools.

"Generally management are not aware of the opportunity," says Inch. "The debate about blocking of Facebook is a classic example of management not understanding the potential business opportunity that it creates within the corporation."

Bryn Nicholson, head of eCommerce with Wizard Home Loans, says while there are pockets of resistance to Web 2.0 within GE Money (owner of Wizard), executives are gradually realising that communicating with customers via social networks can be more effective than traditional advertising.

"We have such a rich amount of information that people are providing in social networks ... it's a fantastic way to identify people with particular needs and target them effectively," Nicholson said.

"We can provide people with information that's useful and say: ‘Come and be part of this forum', or do something other than just ‘click here' and ‘apply now', which is the current state of financial services marketing as we understand it."

Last year Wizard launched its own online community called Wizard Women, targeting women looking to invest in property. The community now has thousands of members that regularly engage with the educational information being provided by Wizard.

Likewise, PayPal has experimented with building tools for social media sites, including "charity badges" that can be displayed on Facebook sites allowing users to make donations to the charity of choice of their friends.

"Payments historically isn't very sexy ... we're finding Web 2.0 is an opportunity to change that mindset and establish more of an emotional connection with users," says PayPal head of marketing Marcelo Silva.

Other examples include the community blogs from Savings & Loans Credit Union, and Community First Credit Union's user generated content site.

I discussed the general Web 2.0 innovations being watched by bankers with James Gardner, head of innovation with LLoyds TSB in the first edition of the Banking Review Podcast. 




Comments: (3)

Steve Ellis
Blog group founder
Steve Ellis - Finextra Research - London 03 April, 2008, 09:31Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Hi Charis

This is great to hear.

I knew there were innovators out there. Good to get an Australian/NZ perspective too. Personally, I'm inevitably a bit UK/US centric but always eager to compare how regions and cultures are embracing these technologies at different speeds and in different ways.

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 03 April, 2008, 11:38Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes I agree that Social Media has definite possibilities, communication is essential and is even  better when it is two-way. Phishing has for the moment hampered the opportunity email presented for the banks. I'm not to sure about 'give to charity - love Paypal' though, it takes a little more than that to win my heart.
Paul Penrose
Paul Penrose - Finextra - London 03 April, 2008, 14:39Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes Westpac seems to be leading the pace among Australia's Big Four establishment banks in the deployment of social media. ZDNet Australia reports from a Gartner symposium late least year on the enlightened policies adopted by David Backley, CTO at Westpac on the use and implementation of social networks at the bank. As Backley sees it: "There is a war for talent out there. The next wave of people we hire are going to be used to this kind of technology. In two or three years time, if [these potential employees] aren't provided this technology inside the organisation, or at least a link to it from your network, that may affect their choices about who they work for."

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