First direct hails text banking milestone

First direct hails text banking milestone

First direct, the direct banking subsidiary of HSBC, has sent its 100 millionth text message since launching its SMS-based customer notification service in 1999.

First direct says almost half a million customers regularly use its texting service, which currently sends out an SMS message to customers every second.

The bank estimates that the text service has helped save customers £32 million by alerting them of low balances and allowing them to curb their spending before becoming liable for unauthorised overdraft charges.

The service also offers current balance and recent transaction texts, mini-statements, alerts when a large payment is made to or taken from their account, and information on credit cards, savings and mortgages.

Commenting on the milestone, Richard Kimber, first direct's chief executive, who has coined his own term for describing the popularity of text messaging, says there is a surge of textosterone sweeping the UK.

"As texting increasingly becomes a mainstream activity amongst the population, moving from a popular craze to a routine communication tool, text banking will be recognised as the ultimate in convenience banking for people with better things to do," adds Kimber.

First direct has also created a dictionary of possible texting terms of the future which includes textmaniac (a 50-a-day texter), context (reporting a crime by SMS) plaintext (booking flights by text) textortion (an intimidating demand for money), and subtext (asking for a bigger overdraft by text).

The Mobile Data Association predicts that 30 billion texts will be sent in the UK this year, with an average of 82 million messages being sent every day.

First direct claims that it was the first to introduce text banking services but other banks have also recognised the potential of using SMS messages to communicate with customers. Lloyds TSB and Nationwide have both recently launched text alert services while MasterCard has released an SMS-based anti-fraud system that enables banks to report suspcious card trasnaction to customers via text message.

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