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ING finds mobile branch-in-pocket builds brand engagement, customer loyalty

An executive of banking giant ING Direct USA said that mobile helps its customers interact with the brand while on the go and supports its overall mission of saving consumers time and money.

This summer ING Direct and its brokerage subsidiary ING ShareBuilder launched mobile applications available on various device platforms, including Google’s Android, Research In Motion’s BlackBerry and Apple’s iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. In addition to mobile banking applications, ING has incorporated social networking into its mobile offerings in order to build brand engagement and customer loyalty.

“The key was finding the right technology and approach to an environment of significant change and uncertainty,” said Rudy Wolfs, chief innovation officer of ING Direct, Wilmington, DE. “Antenna’s products provided the platform for ING Direct to launch its mobile strategy.

“Our customers expect us to either save them time or money,” he said. “Our great rates and simple products save them the money and the ability to interact with us while on the go supports our brand and mission.

“Our target customer is Main Street America and they are exponentially embracing smartphones.”

In July, ING encouraged its customers to “put their bank branch in their pocket” with the launch of its enhanced mobile application for iPhone and BlackBerry devices.

ING Direct USA ran the “Bank from Any Corner” contest to encourage mobile savers to submit photos or videos of themselves showing “the coolest and craziest place” they have used one of ING Direct USA’s new mobile applications.

The grand prize winner received $10,000, second place got $5,000 and third place will received $2,500 and 17 runners-up received an iPod touch (see story).

ING applications are backed by the Antenna Software platform, an enterprise-class platform that offers support for multiple device platforms, security, integration with back-end systems and management of user and network connections.

The company provides a build-once-deploy-to-many scenario designed to drive incremental growth and satisfy IT departments’ needs.

ING Direct is able to offer its mobile application to customers on a variety of device platforms such as BlackBerry, Android and iPhone because of AMP, the device-independent Antenna Mobility Platform.

“When you’re talking about the consumer market with so many different devices out there, it’s important to be able to reach as many customers as possible,” said Jim Somers, chief marketing and strategy officer of Antenna Software, Jersey City, NJ.

“There is a lot of functionality baked into our apps that enables them to be not only good-looking but also robust, transactional and easy to use on all these very different platforms,” he said.

“AMP also does all the heavy lifting so ING Direct can focus on the marketing and strategic objectives of its mobile app strategy.”

Mr. Somers claims that Antenna’s platform handles the integration of the application with enterprise data sources, optimizes communications and application performance through unique data compression and network sensing technologies, guarantees end-to-end message delivery, captures and analyzes detailed application usage, ensures scalability and redundancy for millions of users and secures the mobile application from end-to-end.

All of this helps ING Direct to achieve faster time-to-market, maximum reliability and performance and happier customers, per Antenna.

Mobile social
Mr. Somers said that mobile and social technologies are powerful independently, but integrating the two within the context of a mobile application creates a powerful user experience.

This is exactly what ING Direct has done with its mobile banking application.

For instance, its “Flip for Fun” feature takes advantage of the device’s accelerometer so that any customer accessing the mobile application to check an account balance or perform a transaction can rotate the phone to a 90-degree angle to interact with ING Direct through its Facebook, Twitter and YouTube channels.

“Banking becomes an even more engaging, fun experience, allowing ING Direct to extend these unique attributes of their brand and create more passionate and loyal customers,” Mr. Somers.

Final Take
Dan Butcher, associate editor, Mobile Commerce Daily