AXIS Bank blazes innovation trail with PingPay

The launch of what claims to be India's first multi-social payment app deserves a favourable mention. Douglas Blakey writes

PingPay has been rolled out by Axis Bank. The service enables customers to send money to each other via their mobile phone number or email, Facebook, WhatsApp or by Twitter without needing to know their bank account details.

It is also open to non-Axis Bank customers to use; other features include the facility to incorporate text messages, pictures, video or audio messages.

Fund transfers are available 24/7, 365 days a year and free of cost, with transfers subject to a daily maximum of INR50,000 ($782).

Subject to the user experience being as good as it appears at first glance, Axis could well be on to a winner. As of last year, Facebook had around 110 million users in India, second only to the US (over 150 million).

It has been a good year for Indian banks’ innovative use of social media. On 21 May, ICICI collected the award at the Retail Banker International (a sister title to EPI) annual awards for Best use of Digital Marketing and Social Media.

ICICI launched a number of new and innovative ways to engage its customer base on social media and launched a digital banking service which allows users to send or request money to any email, mobile number or friend on Facebook. This can be utilised not only by consumers of the bank, but anyone with a bank account.

This service complements Pockets by ICICI, an app enabling customers to transfer funds to friends and share expenses via Facebook.

Great local publicity for Facebook in India: but is the area of cross-border remittances not the biggest opportunity for Facebook?
Scarcely a day goes by without news of newish entrants in the remittances sector eating into the market shares of Western Union and MoneyGram.

Often the energetic PR activity is pitched on behalf of TransferWise.

Today, it happens to be Small World FS. Since setting up in the UK in 2006, it has processed £10bn in transactions and now operates the third largest payout network in the world, with a global payout network of over 250,000 locations in 188 countries.

Its deserved success has a bit more to it than astute PR; its competitive fees structures and joint venture deals such as one with African telco MTN Mobile have helped it eat into the market share of the established big two. Facebook for its part is not charging fees on transfers and says that it has no plans to introduce fees.

At the minute, Facebook’s remittances efforts are just in the US. If that changes and Facebook offers cross-border, it will be interesting to note how the new entrants respond; especially if Facebook undercuts on charges.