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An article relating to this blog post on Finextra:

Lloyds TSB invites customers to create their own avatar

Lloyds TSB has introduced a platform that enables customers to create their own avatar which could be used in an advertisement for the UK bank.

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Should 'social' mean 'shared'?

I've been considering how banks can leverage social media sites recently, and was not that surprised when looking further that there is very little 'bank' presence in these areas.

Having just read the article on LloydsTSB and the launch of their "create an avatar" contest, I thought I'd jump straight back over to their Facebook page to see what the bank were doing - expecting great things. Sadly - in my view - they have a Facebook presence only for the purpose of their avatar contest, although their page does allow you to browse what other people have submitted.

So why does there appear to be a reticence for banks to better engage with their customers over sites such as Facebook?

There are two main concerns that I've heard in relation to this - a lot of banks don't want a site where their customers can broadcast their [perceived] grievances, and why would a customer want to share their finances with their friends?

This, I feel, is somewhat missing the point. Banks in general should be as accessible to their customers as possible - wherever their customer is "connected to the cloud", the bank should be able to engage with them.

This doesn't necessarily mean a Facebook page where dirty laundry might be exposed, but could mean an application hosted within Facebook. This would remain within the control of the bank (including extended security), and would allow the bank to have a one-on-one dialogue with customers over a channel that many of their target-demographics spend a considerable amount of time in front of.

The below example allows the bank to push real-time alerting out to the customer, offers a quick-glance health-check of accounts (based upon average balance reporting, amongst other things), as well as being able to dive-in further to initiate transactions. It also affords the bank the opportunity to post to the customer's "wall" with timely context-sensitive messages (but being careful not to 'spam').

Key to this, is that it is private - it is a channel offered only between the bank and the customer, and is not able to be shared with any of the wider community within the site.

Social doesn't have to mean shared.

Banking within Facebook?

Comments: (2)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 08 December, 2010, 15:32Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

I agree.  Financial institutions of all stripes should be actively developing ideas to leverage the Facebook Platform as more than simply a marketing channel.  With 600 million users, 50% of whom login in every day and spend an average of 7-10 hours/month, there is clearly an opportunity here for more than brand management.  One of the main issues, as you mention, is security.  Facebook's dodgy history with respect to protecting user privacy has, I think, severely handicapped its ability to position itself as more than a platform for user-generated content and social gaming.

I like your concept.  Personally, I use Facebook more and more as a single point of entry for all my content - blogs posts, tweets, news.  It would be nice if it also provided for a single point of entry for managing my life - shopping, travel, and, yes, finance.  I think that this is what's starting to happen, gradually, via Facebook Connect.  But I'm still required to access myriad sites individually, opening a dozen or more tabs at a time within my browser window.

The challenge I think for financial institutions is not only designing a secure, bank-hosted application using Facebook Connect, but overcoming the anxiety surrounding Facebook's perception as a swiss cheese network.  It might require Facebook allowing users to further customize their experience through a walled-off area of their profile, an area which is only meant for the user's eyes.  I think the messaging feature is a starting point.

You're right - just because it's a social network doesn't mean we have to share everything.

Tim Tyler
Tim Tyler - Misys - London 09 December, 2010, 08:37Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Thanks David. I don't think you are alone in your usage of Facebook - for many people Facebook is the internet. We are almost coming full circle for these people, as what Facebook are achieving reminds me of the early days of AOL, and indeed what the MNO's first delivered when they launched WAP - the walled garden. If you want to get in front of your customers, you have to be within those walls.

Of course, security will be a key element. Are we seeing the movement of Facebook becoming a de-facto federated ID - the global SSO? I'm not sure that banks would accept this; perhaps we will have limited read-only when you are using your Facebook ID, then requiring a higher level of authentication to view in more detail or transact. Another risk is that your Facebook authentication becomes the proverbial keys to the bank - if your Facebook ID is broken into, how much wider damage could be done?

However, whilst the banks may not allow you to perform much using a Facebook ID, it is strange how a number of banks allow you to consolidate your financial data through an aggregation service...

Tim Tyler

Tim Tyler

Product Manager


Member since

29 Jul 2010



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