Spain’s Caixa Bank launches mobile-only bank aimed at Millennials
CaixaBank is set to launch a mobile-only bank called imaginBank, which will use Facebook, Twitter and mobile apps to connect with its customers in a move the bank says is aimed at young, “digitally native” consumers.
The Spanish bank is one of the country’s three largest financial institutions; however, chief executive Gonzalo Gortázar is keen to emphasise the need to connect with customers in the 18-35 age bracket. imaginBank offers everything via apps on mobile devices and social media. The core product is the imaginBank current account, which is commission free and allows customers to manage personal finances and make transfers and P2P payments.
“The model is clearly inspired by the values and aesthetics of the so-called millennials or digital natives,” said Gortázar. “In truth, the service is aimed at young people of all ages; anyone to whom a new, simple and innovative service model might appeal”.
The imaginBank mobile app can be downloaded free of charge from Google Play (for Android users) or from the App Store (for iOS users). It allows users to browse and sign up for the full range of services and products, check their bank balance, query transactions and view their overall account activity. An effort has been made to make the language simple and clear, so that users can understand what they are getting. The app supports fingerprint identification on devices that have fingerprint sensors, such as the iPhone. It also works on smartwatches, which can be used to find an ATM or a branch, among other features.
Social media is a big part of imaginBank, which uses Facebook tools to help users manage their finances. Users can access their bank without leaving Facebook. They can also view their balance and recent transactions via Facebook. Recognising that a lot of young people simply turn to Twitter when they have a problem, imaginBank has created a Twitter channel that is available 24 hours a day alongside its customer service line. Anyone registering with the imaginBank application can also use an internal chat system to contact specialist account managers, while there is also a WhatsApp message line. There is an imaginBank website, but this is only provided as a source of basic information and instructions on how to become a customer.
The imaginBank account also supports free money transfers to any account in Spain, regardless of the bank that they are held at. Small transfers between individuals can be made without having to enter account numbers; instead, the recipient’s mobile number or e-mail can be used. Money can also be sent to a CaixaBank ATM, with customers then able to make a withdrawal without taking their card with them.
“What we have created is a simple service offering; one that charges customers no maintenance fees but is comprehensive enough to cover all of the financial services demanded by the young target market,” added Gortázar. “We have combined this with advanced technological capabilities and a genuinely digital experience to shape a highly competitive model and a set of benefits that is completely unique in the market”.
Retail banks across the world have seen declining footfall at retail bank branches as consumers increasingly shift to online and mobile platforms. At the same time, several mobile-only banks have been created in northern Europe and other parts of the world. This has prompted many banks to invest heavily in mobile services. At the launch of imaginBank, Gortázar positioned the initiative as part of the group’s “commitment to providing new services that perfectly complement the more traditional banking model, thus helping CaixaBank to secure greater loyalty among a large swathe of existing young customers, as well as to drive new customer acquisition”.
Among the other features of the app, it offers personal financial management tools focused on income and expenditure, with the option of sorting bills and card transactions into categories. The app also offers various push alerts, meaning users can get notifications for card purchases, account movements, bill payments, and other factors that help with budgeting. There is also a one-click consumer lending facility, offering up to 15,000 euros to finance personal projects with no arrangement fee. Customers who have been pre-approved for CaixaBank financing can arrange the facility completely online, while new customers will be able to complete their application via the app.
By registering as customers, users receive a Visa imaginBank debit card free of charge and with no issuing or maintenance fees. The imaginBank Visa card allows customers to make purchases at retailers and withdraw cash at ATMs. Customers will be able to use more than 9,600 ATMs in the CaixaBank network across Spain at no cost, as well as over 200,000 ATMs owned by other banks in the rest of the Eurozone.
Users will be able to get their card in traditional format, with the option of also getting duplicates in other formats such as wearable wristbands or the contactless Visa sticker to attach to a mobile device. The card may also be downloaded in virtual format to make payments directly via a phone. This uses host card emulation) technology and requires NFC-ready devices such as Android 4.4 or higher. The virtual card is stored in the imaginBank wallet, which is bundled with the mobile application, where users can temporarily or permanently activate and deactivate their cards.