The UK's first direct is to provide video access to customer representatives over the mobile phone network in an experimental technology trial with wireless operator 3.
The stand-alone direct banking subsidiary of HSBC says the video call centre initiative is part of a mobile banking pilot, starting this week, to find out what British consumers really want from mobile phone banking. For the pilot, first direct text message banking customers have been equipped with mobile phones that run on 3’s 3G network - the largest of its kind in the UK.
To support the trial, first direct and 3 have created Britain’s first made for-mobile banking Website. The Website – at ‘myfd.mobi’ – is also one of the first to use the .mobi domain, specifically created for mobile Internet access.
The site, which has been developed exclusively for those customers participating in the pilot, initially includes one-click access to first direct via video or voice and will be developed to include mobile-friendly video and audio podcasts about hot financial topics.
Chris Pilling, first direct’s chief executive, says: ”First direct customers will be the first in Britain to try out video banking from their mobile. We’re always keen to pioneer the future of money but want consumers to help us shape the future. When would they find a video call to their bank useful? Do they like the idea of a mobile-friendly money website?"
First Direct added Internet and text message services to its original phone banking concept in 1999, and last month became the first bank to offer on-demand mobile banking via the UK's nascent Monilink network.
If it proves a hit with customers, the video call centre programme will have important implications for the future of banking services, with particular reference to call centre training programmes and offshore service provision.