ASB has earned a reputation as one of the world's most innovative banks, as evidenced by its inclusion on the Financial Brand's list of ten brands to watch, the Top 35 Banks on Facebook and Top 35 Banks on Twitter. It was the first to launch internet banking in New Zealand in 1997, its virtual 'Facebranch' was an award-winning world-first, and its latest development has followed that trajectory by letting users pay Facebook friends through its updated mobile app. So is it digital gimmickry? Or is ASB adhering to its slogan and creating the future? We chat with general manager, brand experience and digital channels Anna Curzon.
So far, Curzon says the updated mobile app, which was launched at the end of May, has had 144,000 downloads. And in terms of payments, 88 percent of them are done via mobile to mobile, while Facebook and email each account for six percent. But, given the initial positive signs, she predicts Facebook will quickly gain prominence.
The average value of each mobile payment is $40 (with Facebook it's $15), so, just like when online banking arrived, Curzon says customers appear to be dipping their toes in the water with small payments first before they have the confidence to start transferring millions to the Cayman Islands, as StopPress regularly does.
While Curzon is careful not to call the Facebook payments development a world first, she says a good old Google search shows there are only a handful of banks around the world playing in the same digital and social sandpit at the moment.
"ASB is seen as being one of the most innovative financial brands in the world," she says, and that's because it believes there's "always a better way".
As a bank renowned for its customer service, Curzon says each new development is based on utility; on whether it will make its customers lives easier. It worked closely with customers to see if this additional service would actually be used and those insights, coupled with the fact that two million Kiwis are on Facebook and one million access it through their mobile device, has led to the significant investment in the digital space.
There have been some questions raised over security issues, but Curzon says security is always the first priority for a bank and it would never launch a service that wasn't secure. Added to that, when payments are made the communication is between ASB and the customer, not Facebook, so she says it's just as safe as internet banking.
As for the new relationship with Saatchi & Saatchi, Curzon believes it's got off to a very good start with the online-only Facebook in real life spot to promote the updated app.
"I really love the Facebook payments campaign because it's humanises social media and technology, and you can have a laugh along the way," she says. "Fun and humour is critical to the ASB brand, but it was also quite targeted. It has had nearly 1000 likes, 116 shares and 201 comments, which shows that it's really engaging. I'm delighted with it."
Elsewhere in banking land, Kiwibank has maintained the highest customer satisfaction among New Zealand’s six major banks according to Roy Morgan Research ‘Customer Satisfaction — Consumer Banking in New Zealand’ monthly report from May 2012.
The level of customer satisfaction for Kiwibank in May is 84 percent, followed by Bank of New Zealand at 82 percent. In spite of Kiwibank being the newest entrant to the major bank category, its customer satisfaction has consistently out-performed all other major banks. But BNZ was the big mover in this round, up six percentage points to 76 percent since May 2010 to take over second spot from ASB on 80 percent.
Matching its decline in spending, National Bank had the biggest decline in customer satisfaction during the same period, dropping from 81 percent to 78 percent, while its parent ANZ hit its peak towards the end of last year after its RWC sponsorship, but dropped back down to 76 percent, level with Westpac.