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ING Direct USA uses contests to promote mobile banking apps

Banking giant ING Direct USA is encouraging 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 is running its “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 will receive $10,000, second place will get $5,000, third place will receive $2,500 and 17 runners-up will receive an iPod touch.

“We’re running the Bank from Any Corner contest to raise some awareness about our apps and have some fun with it,” said John Owens, head of marketing at ING Direct, Wilmington, DE. “Rather than have a branch on any corner, you can bank from any corner using your mobile device.

“The contest collects videos of people banking from wherever they may be, whether it’s on a rollercoaster or at the beach,” he said. “If we can raise awareness of the idea of banking from your pocket instead of at a branch, that’s the intent of the contest.

“We’re targeting a psychographic more than a demographic—whether you’re 21 or 71, if you need freedom, want to do your own thing and not be chained to someone else’s hours or location, that’s who we’re going for.”

Since its inception in 2000, more than 7.6 million Americans have entrusted their savings with ING Direct USA, building the bank to $91.3 billion in assets.

Bank from Any Corner photo and video contest
To enter the Bank from Any Corner contest, participants can submit their entries at ING Direct’s Facebook page, the contest homepage or directly on their mobile phone.

The contest ends Aug. 27.

In advance of the applications’ launch, ING Direct ran a different viral video contest.

To help promote its mobile application launch, ING turned to Poptent, a social network of video creators.

The community of filmmakers was tasked with creating an online video that showcases ING Direct Mobile as a simple, relevant and innovative way to put banking in your pocket.

More than 50 submissions were received for the ING video contest, and three winners were selected.

The winning videos are housed on ING Direct USA’s YouTube page.

ING’s mobile banking apps
The ING Direct USA Mobile application lets customers access the same features available at using their handsets. Users of both versions of the application can:

— Transfer money between their ING Electric Orange Checking, Orange Savings and linked external checking accounts

— Pay bills on the fly. ING Direct USA Mobile lets customers manage the same Bill Pay preferences they have set up through

— Pay people. The app lets customers send money to existing contacts in their Person2Person address book

— Check balances. The application securely displays all of the customer’s accounts and account details such as account number and balance, as well as transaction summary and details

In addition, the iPhone application lets users check out what savers have to say with one touch access to ING Direct’s social media efforts, including Twitter, Facebook and We the Savers blog

Here is a screen grab of the ING iPhone application’s “Flip for Fun” feature:

ING is also working on an Android application, although no release date has been announced.

“At ING Direct, we built our business and brand on changing people’s mindset about banking,” Mr. Owens said. “We were able to change people’s mindset about online banking and mobile is the next step.

“Our mobile banking strategy is to help customers become unchained from the limitations of traditional branch banking,” he said. “It’s now in your hands, so if you want to check your balance or pay your bills while on the go, you can.

“You can bank from wherever you want.”

While it is still early days, ING is banking on robust growth in the mobile space.

“Mobile financial services is still in its infancy, but my expectation is that someday you won’t need a wallet, you won’t need a bank branch, you’ll do all of your banking on your mobile device, and it will also become your payment device,” Mr. Owens said.

Final Take
Dan Butcher, associate editor, Mobile Commerce Daily