Pushing The Envelope On Adopting Cutting Edge Technology – Part 1

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ICICI Bank Facebook App Features

Banks have the opportunity to cut costs and enhance customer experience by adopting mobile, social media and other cutting edge technologies. However, most of them drag their feet on being innovative, often citing security concerns, regulatory constraints, and so on. For example, statutory KYC requirements precluding 100% online and automated account opening by forcing banks to collect paper documents and account opening forms with wet-ink signature.

With the recent launch of Facebook app and Online Account Opening, ICICI Bank, which is India’s largest private sector bank, pushes the envelope on adopting state-of-the-art technologies while staying compliant with the local laws.

The bank recently launched an FB app which offers a whole lot of features such as account balance, mini statement, cheque book request without leaving Facebook. GenXers – like me – who have been using Internet Banking well before Facebook came along might be wondering why someone would want to do their banking on FB. However, from the speed at which my GenY nephew signed up for this app, I’m convinced that ICICI Bank has a winner on its hands with this initiative.

Coinciding with the launch of its FB app, the Bank also launched Online Account Opening functionality on its website. As I’ve mentioned in a couple of blog posts in the past (click here and here), most “online applications” for financial products in India and elsewhere are glorified lead collection forms that fall way short of end-to-end fulfillment of the account opening process. ICICI Bank has got this customer pain area and has advertised its new offering by specifically committing “Instant Account Number” issue. Props to ICICI Bank for doing what, to the best of my knowledge, no other bank or financial institution in India has done so far.

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By no means does ICICI Bank complete the account opening process – that’s simply not possible under the current laws. But, by doing whatever it has done, it has demonstrated that it is possible to use cutting edge technology under the current regulatory environment to improve improved the status quo. ICICI Bank has also proved that, while doing so, it is possible to cut costs and enhance customer experience: By getting the customer to complete the application form online, it has saved the cost of printing paper forms and distributing them to over 2,500 branches all over India as well as the cost of entering all that data manually; and by offering to collect paper documents from the applicant’s doorstep instead of forcing the applicant to visit the branch, it has also enhanced the customer experience. And I think that’s a big deal.

In Part-2 of this blog post, I shall dig a little deeper into ICICI Bank’s Facebook behavior and its communication of the online account opening offering. By getting these right, ICICI Bank can serve as a lighthouse for adoption of cutting edge technology for the entire BFSI industry. Watch this space.

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