The average acquisition cost of a new customer for banks raises with each passing year. According to fiworks statistics, it can reach up to $500 per customer in 2021. That becomes one of the main reasons for banks and other financial institutions to look for alternative ways to reach out to new clients and maintain their loyalty. 

Despite the 45% year-to-year growth of time spent by mobile users in financial apps, they spend way more time on messengers and social media. Statista’s report shows that the average user spends at least 2.5 hours every day online on social media and messengers. This opens a great opportunity for high-street banks and micro-financial organizations to gain benefits from engaging their existing and potential clients online through the alternative platform.

 

 

What Is a Digital Bank in Messengers?

A Digital bank in a messenger is basically what it sounds like. The bank offers and promotes its products and services through the messenger of the choice. The most commonly used messengers for banking integration nowadays are Messenger, WhatsApp, Telegram, and Viber. There are two main types of messenger-based banking. The first one, which is more popular nowadays, is when the Bank in cooperation with the IT company or their own IT department writes the software and integrates it into the messenger of their choosing. The second one is when developers take the open-source code of a given messaging app and create a modified version of it that also covers their business needs. 

There are also rare cases when things turn vice versa and the company decides to build a messenger inside of the mobile banking app, as Russian bank Tinkoff did.

“We see it as a viral mechanism through which customers can recommend products to each other” –  Neri Tollardo, Tinkoff’s strategy director says. But that’s more of an exception to the rule, as they lose the main benefit – access to the place where people spend most of their time online.

 

What Is Not a Digital Bank in Messengers?

The bank in a messenger is often confused for a banking chatbot. Although the technical aspects of the solution may look similar, those two serve different business needs. Chatbots are designed to guide people through their problems and answer frequently asked questions, while messenger-based banks provide the actual banking services. Honorable mention here is Conversational Banking. That’s an online AI assistant trained to cover customers’ needs through different channels such as voice, text, and visuals to create a more user-friendly experience. However, that’s not a bank in messenger also.

 

Key Features of Digital Bank in Messengers

Not only banks require and order bank in messenger services, not only banks are using the same approach. Micro financial organizations (MFO) and crypto platforms are also looking to expand their client base. And while the functionality requested by banks and MFOs is often pretty similar, the crypto-community has its own unique needs. Let’s take a look at the most common key features requested by each of those financial institutions below.

Banking:

  • Issuance of loans and repayments

The ability for end-users to get a cash loan if the system approves the fulfillment of the conditions regulated by the bank and local laws.

  • Card issuance

The ability for end-users to get a digital card in a few clicks. This may also include a physical card delivery.

  • Card refill

A quick card refill using a card number or a QR code.

  • Payments

This includes online payments, card to card, and b2b  transactions.

  • Card Management and Security Settings

Fully configure your payment account with such features as getting the card details and bank statements, changing your card online payment limit, updating your password, and many others.

  •  Commonly Used Payments

Manage your commonly used payments for mobile communication, the Internet, TV, utilities, and even car fines.

  • Referral Program

The ability to quickly build and share a referral link that will most likely be opened through end-users contacts.

 

Digital Banks in Messengers

Examples of Digital Banks in Messengers

 

Micro Financial Organizations: 

  • Issuance of Loans and Repayments

The ability for end-users to get a cash loan if the system approves the fulfillment of the conditions regulated by the bank and local laws.

  • Payment Term Reminders

Automated payment term notifications that are sent to end-users.

  • Absence of Debt Certificates Retrieval

A quick and easy way to retrieve a no debt certificate directly from the messenger.

  • Referral Program

The ability to quickly build and share a referral link that will most likely be opened through end-users contacts.

  • Feedback Gathering

The ability to get clients’ feedback to better understand their mood, needs, and behavior.

 

Microfinancial organizations

Examples of Micro Financial Organizations “CDC Small Business Finance” and “Pacific Community Ventures”

 

Crypto Platforms & Wallets:

  • Binance Pay

The ability to pay and get paid in cryptocurrency from your friends and family worldwide

  • Purchase Cryptocurrency With a Card

The ability to purchase cryptocurrency with your credit card or create a virtual one.

  • Check wallet balance
  • Check the transaction history

 

Crypto Platforms & Wallets

An example of Crypto Platform and Wallet. Source: Coinbase

 

Benefits of Digital Bank in Messengers

Let’s start with the one that has been already mentioned – reduced customer acquisition costs. A switch to messengers provides an easier way to reach out to numerous people in their local communities. That’s like coming to the bar to meet new people vs waiting for someone to decide to visit your apartment. Direct landing to your in-messenger bank allows bypassing all the extra steps of installing special software, registration, and others. Once the end-user visits your in-messenger bank you can start sending him follow-ups directly in the messaging app. Reckless agency study shows that in-app messaging has a 75% open rate. That’s over 45 times higher than email and nearly three times higher than push notifications. Now, try to imagine how those open rates cooperate with a tailored referral program.

 

 

Limitations

All written above would be amazing if there were no limitations that in-messenger bank issuers face. Each market has its legal regulations regarding what financial services you can offer to identified and unidentified clients and the different packages of documents needed for the identification. This leads to a decrease in the number of financial services that can be provided through messenger. Also, not all the messengers provide all the tools needed for the implementation of the service issuers’ ideas. That’s why we can see some companies take the open-source code of the messaging apps to apply changes to the interface. While not being a limitation, client trust remains an issue. Despite the higher spread of in-messenger banking solutions, the lack of client trust is still at a high level. However, enthusiasts have their own view of the situation: “People already trust these apps to discuss their private lives and send naked pictures, so it’s not as big of a leap as people in the industry might think” – Elliot Goykhman (the Founder and CEO of Zelf digital bank) says.

 

 

Security Issues to Be Addressed

One-Time Password Protection

All the operations with sensitive data should be protected by one-time password (OTP) technology. This is similar to any mobile banking application. The user needs to confirm in-app actions with a one-time password received from SMS or via an alternative communication channel.

 

Messenger Should Not Have Access to User’s Banking Data

All the user’s financial information should be isolated from the messenger and stored in secured WebView pages. WebView is a system component that allows apps to display content from the web directly inside an application. In this case, if a third-party person gains access to the user’s messaging app, they won’t have access to the banking data without proper authorization.

 

 

Companies That Are Already Receiving Benefits from Launching Digital Bank In Messengers 

 

  • Zelf – An innovative generation Z oriented bank in messengers
  • AlfaMessage – A product launched by Alfa Banking Group, which is one of the biggest private banking groups in Eastern Europe
  • VTB Bank – A leading Eastern European Bank that offers an in-messenger experience for customers from Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Belarus
  • Universal Bank  – A parent company of a Monobank, Ukraine’s first virtual bank, launched their own in-messenger bank
  • TalkBank – Bank in messengers without branches, mobile applications, and call centers
  • Line Bank – the Tokyo-based messenger service, has integrated banking into its app
  • Moneyveo – an online microfinance service that operates in Ukraine and Vietnam and provides loans through the messenger
  • iMe – a Telegram-based messenger with a built-in crypto wallet
  • Mixin Messenger – An open-source cryptocurrency messenger & wallet 

 

 

Conclusion

In-messenger banks provide plenty of benefits to their issuers, while also enabling end-users to quickly deal with their financial-related tasks. The main benefit for banks is the reduction of customer acquisition costs. However, such services are not widely spread yet, and banks should build up the trust of their clients, as there is always a place for concerns and skepsis when it comes to something new. And, moreover, do not forget about the complexity of the implementation of all the functionalities and security checks, hiring an external team that is directly specialized in messenger-based banks development might be a good idea.

 

 

If you want to know more or have any questions, please get in touch with us at igor@42flows.tech.

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