Banks know that they can cut costs and enhance customer experience by adopting mobile, social media and other cutting edge technologies. However, most of them drag their feet on innovation, often citing security concerns, regulatory constraints, and so on.
For example, statutory KYC requirements precluding banks from introducing 100% online and automated account opening by forcing them to collect printed proof of identity and address documents and account opening forms bearing wet-ink signature.
With the recent launch of a Facebook App and Online Account Opening, ICICI Bank, which is India's largest private sector bank, has pushed the envelope on adopting cutting edge technologies while staying compliant with the local laws.
The bank recently launched an FB app which offers a whole lot of features such as account balance, mini statement, cheque book request without leaving Facebook. GenXers - like me - who have been using Internet Banking well before Facebook came along might
be viewing Facebook as an odd venue for conducting banking. However, from the speed at which my GenY nephew signed up for the FB app, I'm convinced that ICICI Bank has a winner on its hands with this initiative.
Coinciding with the launch of its FB app, the Bank also launched Online Account Opening functionality
on its website. As I've mentioned in a couple of blog posts in the past (hyperlinks to personal blog posts removed), most "online applications" for financial products in India and elsewhere are glorified lead collection forms that fall way short of end-to-end
account opening. ICICI Bank has got this customer pain area and has advertised its new offering by specifically committing issue of "Instant Account Number". Props to ICICI Bank for doing what, to the best of my knowledge, no other bank or financial institution
in India has done so far.
By no means does ICICI Bank offer a complete account opening process online - that's simply not possible under the current laws. But, even with its partial solution, this bank has convincingly demonstrated that it is possible to use cutting edge technology
to improve the status quo even under the current regulatory environment. ICICI Bank has also proved that, while doing so, it is possible to cut costs and enhance customer experience: By getting the customer to complete the application form online, it
has saved the expense of printing paper forms and distributing them to its 2,500+ branches all over India as well as cut the cost of entering all that data manually; and by offering to collect paper documents from the applicant's doorstep instead of forcing
the applicant to visit the branch, it has simultaneously enhanced the customer experience. And I think that's a big deal.
In Part-2 of this blog post, I will dig a little deeper into these new offerings from ICICI Bank and share some comments and concerns around the bank's Facebook behavior and communications around its online account opening offering. By tweaking these, ICICI
Bank can serve as a lighthouse for the entire BFSI industry to adopt cutting edge technology.