Australian banking group ANZ
signed a deal with innovative US Web 2.0 platform SmartyPig at the
end of last year, adding an exclusive ‘social savings’ option to
its product range. The bank says the top three savings goals for
account holders are saving for a holiday, saving for a car, and
what ANZ describes as just ‘saving to save’.

At the end of April, ANZ, the
third-largest Australian bank ranked by deposits, picked up an
‘innovation excellence’ award for its SmartyPig savings account.
The product is run in conjunction with US software outfit SmartyPig
under the domain name, with ANZ supplying
marketing, distribution and the banking infrastructure.

Launched five months ago in December 2008, the
product was one of the first mainstream Web 2.0 retail banking
products not just in Australia but also around the world. The
partnership with ANZ, which marked the first international
expansion of SmartyPig’s technology, offers Australians an original
savings capability: the option for friends and family to contribute
to their savings goals through the SmartyPig website or popular
social networks like Facebook and MySpace. It also offers discounts
from a range of selected shops and retailers.

The SmartyPig account is aimed at people
saving for a purpose. It lets them track their progress, providing
electronic updates as they reach major milestones. Asked about the
SmartyPig account, a spokesperson from ANZ told RBI:
“Customer acquisition continues to be strong, with an average of
approximately 30 percent new SmartyPig account holders every week.
Since the launch we have seen a steady volume of unique visitors to as a result of ongoing social networking
activity [blogging, Twitter and Facebook] and online

They added: “To date, we have been pleased
with the uptake and have received significant positive customer

The top three savings goals for account
holders are: saving for a holiday, saving for a car, and what the
bank describes as just ‘saving to save’. Specific numbers were not

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The spokesperson said: “More than 70 percent
of all users are aged 18 to 35, which is consistent with our
initial expectations. We believe the response from this group is
due to their comfort with online social networking and transacting
in an online banking environment. [Also] SmartyPig facilitates a
‘fun’ banking experience while providing customers with the
opportunity to develop regular saving habits.”

Once a customer has reached their savings
goal, if they decide to redeem their savings with a voucher from
one of the account’s retail partners, they can get a ‘value boost’
in addition to the variable interest rate applied to their savings
(currently 4 percent).

If, for instance, a customer reaches their
savings goal with a balance of A$2,500 and then chooses to redeem
their savings from Retailer X who offers a value boost of 5
percent, the customer will receive gift vouchers to the value of
A$2,652.40 – which equals the account balance, plus quarterly
interest of 4 percent per annum plus a 5 percent value boost.

Asked whether ANZ was planning further Web 2.0
products, either in partnership or by itself, the spokesperson
said: “ANZ continues to monitor trends across the industry and we
are always reviewing our product offerings, including Web 2.0
products, in response to our customer needs.

“There are some developments in the pipeline
which we will have more to say about in coming months.”

Social banking on the

Worldwide, the number and type of
‘social’ retail banking tools – summed up by the ‘Web 2.0’ moniker
– are rising, and rising fast.

At last month’s RBI round table
discussion on direct banking (see RBI 610), Edwin van
Raalte, senior manager for business development – International
Direct Banking at Rabobank, said: “There is significant competition
in the Australian and New Zealand market but [Rabobank] has been
able to rapidly build a managed funds and deposit book for this
region… The important driver is our customer-centric attitude and
Web 2.0 approach which truly differentiates us.”

In March, SmartyPig itself signed distribution
agreements with a host of leading US money management and
aggregation sites including, Microsoft Money, Wesabe and

At the start of April, it also rolled out a
mobile banking website, While the site is designed
to take advantage of Apple’s increasingly popular iPhone, the
company enlisted US software firm pinch/zoom to optimise the site
for other sophisticated mobile devices such as Google’s Android,
Blackberrys and HTC handsets.

Web 2.0: Opportunity assessment matrix