Kotak's Twitter banking: Ground breaking or gimmicky?
12th May 2016
Around this time two years ago, Kotak Mahindra Bank had announced the launch of Jifi. It allowed users to authenticate their Twitter accounts with the bank and perform regular banking transactions via the medium, in a jiffy. This was the time when Instagram had just started commercially picking up in the country and Snapchat got nary a mention in any conversation around digital. Twitter was the 'it' thing back then with brands from several categories flocking to it. They still do, and some (read: few) do it well. But most of it is centered around grievance and reputation management and broadly PR.
To offer banking services via Twitter was definitely unique and Kotak had claimed to offer 20 banking services that could be carried through the micro-blogging platform. Security issues would have been the first to put people off the service. But Jifi didn't offer fund transfers, and every request would've been routed via mobile banking, so the service did get some Tweeters valuing its ease. However, the numbers aren't great even two years after it started, admits Karthi Marshan, Sr EVP and head - group marketing, Kotak Mahindra Bank.
Was it Kotak's way of striking another medium off the laundry list then? For Marshan, it was really the fear of missing out on a potential medium, he says. "In the digital era, one has no choice but to try many things. You don't know what may click. You don't know when the network effect may kick in." Marshan takes a moment here to tell us about Finalta. It's a McKinsey solution, one of the market leaders in the financial services benchmarking space. In Finalta's June'15 benchmarking result, Kotak ranks the highest in Mobile login and mobile transaction frequency in India. On an average, the global leader gets over 11 logins on its app in a month. Kotak got nine in June 2015 highest in India and Asia. "Kotak's banking app has the highest rating (4.4) among all BFSI players on the Google Play Store. Monthly rating went up from 4.34 in Nov'15 to 4.51 in Mar'16," he further tells us.
"But just because the core banking app is doing well for the brand doesn't mean we don't do anything else," he says. And Kotak's not the only one now. Shortly after Jifi, France's second largest bank Group BPCE announced their own Twitter payment service. Back home, ICICI announced their Twitter banking facility around January last year. Called 'icicibankpay', the service allows users to transfer money via Twitter Direct Messaging. Twitter itself has been reportedly trying to venture into the payments space in a bid to look beyond advertising for revenue. But none of these developments have been able to bring about any revolution in the Twitter banking landscape. Perhaps the platform itself is not conducive for something as personal and critical as banking, feels Lakshmipathy Bhat, app-maker Robosoft's VP - corp comm, and a prolific twitterati at @bhatnaturally.
It's not even solving any fundamental problem, he points out. You have the bank's site to go to when you're on desktop, and app to use on your mobile. Why would you go on Twitter to do banking? Well, you may, if you don't want to download the app, or make the effort of logging in to the site, going through several layers just to order a chequebook. So, use cases are there. Especially for the young and the restless digitally savvy consumers who Marshan wanted to lure through Twitter in the first place. So, the challenge is to communicate how Twitter is a 'more convenient' medium for some set of users to do most of their bank-related chores. You combat that challenge and you're back from 'no show' to 'good show' on Twitter. *Hashtag You Can Win*