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ING Direct integrates mobile banking with Facebook for added convenience

Mobile plays a key role for ING Direct Canada because it has no physical locations. To meet the needs of its customers, the online bank recently launched Orange Snapshot, which is a Facebook app designed for mobile and lets users go from chatting with friends to checking their ING Direct accounts in one click.

“ING is trying to make banking easier for their customers, wherever and whenever they want to bank,” said Krista Napier, senior analyst for mobility at IDC Canada, Toronto.

“ING is allowing clients to view their bank accounts, history, or receive account notifications within their social network, preventing them from having to exit their social networking experience, which they feel will provide a more unified experience for those who choose to use it,” she said.

“And with so many people on Facebook now, they clearly see an opportunity here to be where their customers are.”

Ms. Napier is not affiliated with ING Direct and spoke based on her experience in mobile.

ING Direct did not meet press deadline.

Shared experiences
Customers can securely access their ING Direct account information from within the Facebook site using the Orange Snapshot app to view account balances, history and pending transactions, receive alerts and check-out ING Direct’s rates.

Customers can also share their experiences through Facebook and Twitter to support their efforts to save money.

ING Direct plans to expand the application to include transactions such as transfers, bill payments and email money transfers.

ING Direct is leveraging IBM’s technology for these enhancements.

As mobile banking grows, users expect their banks to make banking simpler, engaging and more relevant by providing easy tools that enable them to bank whenever, wherever and however they want.

More banks may begin integrating social media and mobile banking going forward.

“It brings up the questions of privacy,” said Danny Tang, lead for IBM’s banking team for front-office solutions, Armonk, NY. “A lot of the social media companies are not exactly famous for protecting users data.

“Financial institutions are very concerned about data privacy,” he said. “As long as banks understand the risks involved with social via mobile banking and carefully manage what customers do, I think this most likely will be a trend we are going to see.”

Voice recognition
ING Direct offers other unique mobile banking features, such as Small Sacrifices, which helps guide customers through day-to-day decisions that save them money. Customers can choose to make small sacrifices such as passing on a cup of coffee and have the funds transferred to their savings account and watch how these small sacrifices add up over time.

ING Direct is also working with IBM to find other new ways to enhance the mobile banking experience.

For example, the bank is experimenting with new voice recognition capabilities on its mobile apps so customers can complete simple banking transactions by speaking rather than typing. Additionally, the app can read account information to the customer.

ING Direct is also exploring the use of biometrics in its mobile apps to make it easier for customers to log-in to their accounts.

“Voice is one of the best ways to authenticate a user and at a pretty low cost,” Mr. Tang said.

“We will have to see how accurate it can be in a noisy environment like in an airport,” he said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York