UK bank Abbey is offering its customers the chance to personalise their plastic payment cards with their own photographs or images.
Abbey's Photocard service, which launches tomorrow, will allow customers to add photos or an image from its online gallery to their Visa debit, Visa Electron or 11-16 Cash Card for a £5 charge.
Customers will be able to use Internet registration for a Photocard personalisation system, even if they have not registered for online banking. The personalised banking site will enable customers to upload personal photos or download an image from the bank's picture library. Customers will be able to manipulate the image behind a banking card template on the screen. The final card image will be cut to size on-screen to show how the personalised card will look. Customers not happy with the image will be able to go back and try again.
Due to copyright restrictions the pictures have to be personal and not, for example, of celebrities.
According to research conducted by NOP on behalf of the bank, more than half (56%) of those surveyed said they'd like to customise their payment card, and more than a quarter (26%) said it would actually influence their choice of bank.
The bank is also extending its statement service to provide customers with an extra summary page showing the total amount of cash withdrawn from the counter and ATMs, the number of debit card purchases grouped by shop, details of all cheques written and a breakdown of direct debits and standing orders with an overall total.
Finextra comment: This is an interesting initiative by Abbey which could play to the bank's advantage in a rapidly commoditising market characterised by weakening brand loyalty. Rather than merely reinforcing its own brand equity at the point of payment, Abbey is instead drawing on positive personal assocations to foster a closer relationship with customers. The £5 fee is the only drawback. Abbey could have demonstrated more conviction by running the operation as a loss-leader and offered it to customers free of charge.