Customers in India can now bank via Facebook

Customers in India can now bank via Facebook

India’s ICICI Bank has launched a new app that lets customers pay their friends and share expenses between groups of people on Facebook.

The Pockets by ICICI Bank app is a development of the ‘Your Bank’ Facebook app that the bank introduced last year, which allowed customers to view their savings account details and statements while on Facebook, as well as order cheque books and upgrade their debit card.

New features include Split ‘n’ share’, in which the customer splits and tracks group expenses and shares them with friends, the self-explanatory Pay a friend feature – which works without having to know the recipient’s bank account details – and a recharge prepaid mobile feature. There is also a Book movie tickets feature, which can be used to organise a cinema visit with a group of Facebook friends.

“This innovation is in line with our philosophy of Khayal Aapka wherein we offer products and services which make banking easier and more convenient for our customers,” said Chanda Kochhar, chief executive at ICICI Bank. “Pockets by ICICI Bank will enable the young consumers, who spend a lot of time on Facebook, to carry out a wide set of transactions without having to leave the social media site.”

Facebook has 82 million users in India, of which 40% are under 30, according to ICICI Bank figures. Customers can access the ICICI Bank app by logging into Facebook, then going to the ICICI Bank official Facebook page and clicking on the tab for Pockets by ICICI Bank. The customer then registers, enters their debit card number and PIN, and selects a new four digit PIN which can be used for all subsequent logins.

For security, the app uses 128 bit encryption to protect customer information. For each transaction, there is a unique one time password that is sent to the customer’s mobile number to verify the transaction.

Founded in 1994 by Indian financial institution ICICI, ICICI Bank operates 3,377 branches and 10,943 ATMs across India and claims to be the country’s largest private sector bank. Based in the Indian city of Hyderabad, the bank has subsidiaries in the UK, Russia and Canada and also operates branches in the US, Singapore, Bahrain, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Qatar and Dubai.

In July, the bank announced plans to launch a mobile payments service built by Movida, the Indian joint venture between Visa and mobile money specialist firm Monitise, that will draw on the potential to reach unbanked customers in the country.

India is well-known as a market with potential for mobile payments, based on the presence of a significant unbanked population that has access to a mobile phone. The population of India is 1.2 billion according to figures provided by the World Bank, while the Bank of India estimates that 41% of the overall population is unbanked, rising to 61% in rural areas.