While some of the major FIs have garnered publicity for their pages on Facebook, others have been starting to offer actual transaction capability. So when I take a break from playing Scrabulous, I can check out account balances or send money to a buddy. Soon, I'll be able to apply for a peer-to-peer loan, or check out my loan portfolio.
Credit Unions leading the charge to transacting on Facebook
SEFCU is a credit union with 160,000 members serving New York State, and is the latest to announce transactions on Facebook. MShift, a provider of mobile banking solutions, built the SEFCU application, as well as the KeyPoint Credit Union Facebook application, launched November 2007. KeyPoint's 80,000 customer base is heavily weighted to technology professionals, and it only makes sense that they would be at the forefront of access innovations.
FiServ, the giant solutions provider for financial processing technology has launched the MyMoney application (screen shot above) that offers access to a number of credit union accounts. And possibly the ability to aggregate from multiple credit unions, although that wasn't entirely clear to me after researching this. Although the application was built with credit unions in mind, Fiserv says they can work with any operating platform.
[One thing I didn't care for too much were the gushing testimonials from Fiserv employees on the comments page.]
The driver behind this initiative is simple -- bring the banking to where the people are, especially Gen Y potential customers. But not only them, of course -- other demographics are rapidly adopting social networking as well.
Lending Club has a Facebook application that is really just a page at this point, with redirects to their web site. But they are in a quiet period while awaiting their SEC approval to issue another 600 million in notes. So I'm guessing things will look quite different here in the near future.
Prosper, another P2P lender, is also live on Facebook. Prosper's application appears much more interactive inside Facebook, adding items to your feed about opportunities you are following, etc. Transactions still occur inside the Prosper web site.
Sending money around
A few operations are now launching that promise to let you send money around the web via Facebook as well. PayMe promises to let you use PayPal from inside Facebook. OneClick Pay is already live, as is Moneybookers.
Is Facebook taking over the world?
Most of these applications have users in the dozens. So there's no need to panic if you're an FI without a strategy in place yet. However, exponential growth curves do tend to look slow in the beginning.
Some buffing up is needed in the customer experience
One thing I noticed about these Facebook apps and the associated
pages is that the companies are not doing a tremendous job of
interacting with people. For example, the KeyPoint page has a question about the app dated April 1, 2008 that has no response.
Here's my tip: if you launch a social networking application, you need to build communication protocols and revise job descriptions to ensure that ongoing communication occurs. What's the point of opening a dialogue with your customers and then failing to talk?
Finextra: SEFCU taps Facebook, July 10, 2008
Credit Union Journal, Fiserv units unveil financial platform for users of Facebook, April 2008, PDF file