Spain’s BBVA has rolled out a
Facebook-only savings account as well as a comprehensive online
personal account management system – examples, says the bank, of
the sort of Intelligent Web 3.0 services that will increasingly
define the future of consumer banking. William Cain

Through its online subsidiary, uno-e, BBVA
has become the first bank to offer a product exclusively on
Facebook, the global social networking website. Spain’s
second-largest bank has also launched a powerful online money
management tool for its 4.1 million online Spanish retail banking
customers in a further sign of its heavyweight push into
state-of-the-art marketing and distribution technologies.

Some 1.3 billion transactions were carried
out online by BBVA customers over the past 12 months, and the bank
says that, as more and more people conduct their personal and
financial lives online, the banking industry should promote the
development of not just ‘The Social Web’ (Web 2.0) but, more
significantly, ‘The Intelligent Web’ (Web 3.0)

The deal with Facebook adds momentum to
the growing number of banks – including HSBC, Chase,
Toronto-Dominion, ING – dabbling in social networking,
person-to-person (P2P) technologies and other forms of modern web
marketing (see RBI 593, 592).

BBVA’s particular Facebook product, called
Depósito 16, is a nine-month savings product with a
headline-grabbing rate of 16 percent in the first month. For the
remaining eight months it pays out Euribor minus 0.15 percent,
giving an overall return of 5.51 percent.

The bank is offering the product until the
end of September; users who sign up receive a €100 bonus.

A personal financial management

Depósito 16 was launched alongside BBVA
tú cuentas, a personal financial management solution aimed
at helping the bank’s online customers manage their finances
through a range of interactive tools. The service, co-designed by
the bank and Strands, a US technology/marketing specialist, will be
up and running from the autumn.

BBVA tú cuentas will provide an
aggregated snapshot of a customer’s financial and non-financial
information, including non-BBVA accounts, utilities and telephone
bills. It is an example, states BBVA, of the sort of Intelligent
Web 3.0 services that will increasingly define the future of

Gabriel Aldamiz-echevarria, a spokesperson
for Strands, told RBI there were three things which made
the product different to others on the market.

Firstly, expenses can be automatically
catalogued by the system using debit and credit card data – though
not with cash – meaning finances can be analysed through graphs,
charts, budgets and savings targets (BBVA hopes the tool will
increase card spending as a result, and added a 2 percent growth in
cards would make €100 million in profit).

The second difference is the service is
accessible through mobiles as well as the internet, available
through iPhone, Nokia and Blackberry handsets. And thirdly, it is
based on ‘widget’ software which means users can personalise
layouts and add or remove items.

The concept is similar to products run in
the US by Bank of America (My Portfolio) and Wachovia (Wachovia
Online Banking) and in the UK through HSBC’s first direct (Internet
Banking Plus) and Egg (Egg Money Manager), all of which offer
account aggregation services. Figures from Egg, the UK
internet-only bank owned by Citi, have shown customers who use its
Money Manager service have lower card dormancy rates, higher
cross-product holdings and visit the website five times more often
than those who do not use the service.

Word of mouth

The popularity of the Depósito 16 Facebook
product will provide an interesting insight into Web 2.0 marketing
as it will be communicated primarily by word of mouth and
recommendations between friends on the site.

New mediaUno-e CEO Cristina de Parias said: “Uno-e, a bank without
branches, has for some time been on the lookout for the best way to
achieve a much closer presence and a much more direct relationship
with its target market and customers. In this regard, social
networking sites offer the platform and the tools, and are a
transit point where uno-e had to have a presence.”

The move towards marketing on Web 2.0
platforms – internet sites predominantly featuring user-generated
content – remains a small one so far among banks, according to a
recent report from VRL KnowledgeBank called Web 2.0 in Retail
Banking – Building Customer Engagement
. There are around 50
banks and credit unions using Facebook, one of the most popular
user-generated sites.

But it looks set to become an increasingly
important way of communicating with customers as the marketing
effectiveness of traditional media declines and word-of-mouth
marketing becomes more important.

De Parias added: “If you offer products
with excellent conditions and provide good service that improves
day after day, the best way to communicate is to get the word out
to as many people as possible. Facebook and other social networks
are useful for that.”

Surveys suggest banking applications on
Web 2.0 platforms like Facebook are in demand, but usage of those
currently available has not taken off. A survey by internet
security provider WorkLight found 25 percent of Facebook users
would consider leaving their bank to obtain online banking through
Web 2.0 gadgets.


A survey of 1,000 Facebook users found 48
percent of respondents would take advantage if their banks offered
such a service.