Whether we are at home, work or even school, social media has become a part of daily life for many people. Now banks and other financial organisations are jumping on the bandwagon with apps that make managing your money more social.
The first of these actually launched years ago, when ANZ launched a local version of the US online savings website SmartyPig.
One of the features of the site – now defunct in Australia – was the ability to make savings goals public by linking your SmartyPig account to Facebook.
While the site did not take off here, this development foreshadowed current trends, now being steered by the likes of the Commonwealth Bank.
In March 2013 the Big Bank announced the launch of Kaching for Facebook, an app that CommBank says will offer users “world-first payment options, without ever needing to leave the world’s largest social platform.”
“With Facebook popularity skyrocketing to more than 55 per cent of the population in Australia, we know our customers, particularly Facebook’s core user base of 18-35 year olds, are looking for new ways to connect their banking and their lives, friends and causes inside Facebook,” said Andy Lark, Commonwealth Bank’s Chief Marketing and Online Officer.
“So what better way than by giving them access to everyday banking and payments on their favourite social network?”
Kaching already let CommBank customers make payments to anyone with a mobile number or email address, but the version for Facebook opens up the social media realm.
New payment options on Kaching for Facebook include the ability to make payments to Facebook Events, and gift payments to friends and family on Facebook for special occasions such as birthdays, graduations and engagements.
Other functionalities include the ability to view an account balance and transaction history, transferring funds between accounts and viewing peer-to-peer payment and requests history.
Is Social Banking Taking Things Too Far?
While CommBank’s app is the first of its kind in Australia, and one of the first in the world, not everyone is convinced social banking will take off.
As News.com.au reported, there could be a lot of scepticism around security on Facebook, which regularly causes controversy over privacy issues – not to mention the fact that the site is a major target for hackers.
Critics have also said that combining Facebook and banking seems like an “odd mix”, with Deakin University social media lecturer Ross Monaghan telling News.com.au that as well as security concerns, people could “choose to avoid “Facebanking” simply to avoid mixing their personal life with their finances.”
The Commonwealth Bank, however, has offered a 100% security guarantee on all transactions made through Kaching for Facebook. It is also aware of the potential concerns, and Lark said maintaining security was a major priority.
“Customer’s privacy is paramount to us. In addition to the security measures we have in place to protect a customer’s personal information, we have designed CommBank Kaching for Facebook in a way that ensures Facebook does not have access to, or visibility over, anything our customers do within the application,” he explained.
“Our customers have total control over which personal and transactional information they choose to send to friends, post on their walls or post on your wall.”
At the very least, this app gives you more ways to fit banking in with your lifestyle, which could actually work in your favour both now and in the future as social media takes up more of our time and attention.
A recent study from AustralianSuper showed that more Australians knew how many Facebook friends they had than how much super was in their accounts.
James Coyle, AustralianSuper General Manager of Marketing and Communications, said the results showed that many Australians were more engaged with the social aspects of their lives, like Facebook, than their long term financial goals.
“Considering 43% of Australians don’t know how much super they have, they probably don’t know what fees they pay or whether their super is on track to achieve their desired lifestyle in retirement.”
While superannuation is just one part of your personal finances, these results support the views that social media banking will become a major trend, with CommBank leading the way in Australia.
“As social banking starts to take off, we believe more of our customers will embrace a range of payment options, including Facebook event payments, as they start to integrate their everyday banking needs within their social networks,” Lark said.
It is not clear whether other banks and financial institutions are already developing social banking options, but the current views and research suggest it is only a matter of time before more of these apps become available.
But just like choosing a bank account, whether you decide to use social banking or not will probably come down to personal preferences and what fits with your financial needs.