Why and how to Use Messaging Apps for Banking

5 min read

Not that long ago, every time you needed close your bank account or transfer payments you had to put together a ton of documents, make your way to a bank, and then spend hours in a queue. Mobile technology has changed this dramatically. Now, a smartphone is all you need to close or open an account, set or change limits, send funds with two taps, and much more. And if you’re at all confused, chatbots are there to help.

Messaging app: what’s in it?

Messaging apps are the most evolving type of communication. They are slated to soon overtale social media in popularity. Giants such as WhatsApp, Viber, Facebook Messenger, Telegram are opening a whole new world of business communication.

7 reasons for banks to use messaging apps:

  • The audience is huge, and it’s growing every day. Over 1 billion people all over the world use Viber. Facebook Messenger has 1.3 billion users. Most smartphone owners have at least 2 messaging apps installed.
  • They are a highly efficient sales tool. To grasp the scale: over 500 million people make purchases via WeChat every day.
  • They allow sharing of files, pictures, videos, geolocation, using emojis and stickers. Some of them even support calling.
  • They allow chat with customers (2-way communication)
  • Most of them are linked to phone numbers, which is more reliable than email.
  • They support chatbots.
  • And last but not least — they are secure.

Ways to use mobile applications for communication go beyond chats and promotional activities. WeChat has become a lifestyle in China: its users can order food, rent a bike, get access to public services, and more via the app.

Tetiana Shypenko and Denys Onyshchenko, Enterprise Relations Managers at GMS, explain why banks should use messaging apps for business communication and answer some of the common questions on the topic.

Messaging applications: cheaper, easier, funnier

Denys: To a great extent, banks love to utilise messaging apps for transactions, promo messaging, customer surveys. We at GMS offer Viber services, so I’ll focus on the benefits of messaging apps for banking using Viber Business Messages as an example.

Transaction (system) messages are used by all banks: Viber is cheaper than SMS and allows 5 times more characters (160 in Latin and 70 in Cyrillic in an SMS vs. 1000 in any language in a Viber message).

Mobile advertising in Viber is interactive, and is the best part: a picture, button, link, two-way communication.

In terms of money, this offers significant savings with great potential. Also, Viber messages can be sent to customers abroad at no additional cost — if the user has access to the internet, they will receive your message no matter where they might be.

Tetiana: The hot topics for banks are chatbots and online banking. Today, bank clients can obtain cash flow information, get a loan, transfer money. In short, make basic banking transactions in just a few clicks, using their favourite messaging app.

Some banks announced the launch of such an online banking on Viber. This means to get a service or product, Viber users need to go to the bank’s public account and open the menu.

Chatbots are no longer the future, but a present reality. Many banks can boast of their own chatbots. Juniper experts predict chatbots will save banks $8 billion annually by 2022. This is a staggering amount.

Sensitive data in messaging apps: to be or not to be?

Tetiana: Some banks do send system messages via Viber, like one-time passwords (OTPs), via messaging apps, some don’t. The reason is that for both Viber transaction messages and one-time passwords, the TTL (time to live) is up to 60 seconds. This means that while a Viber message is on its way to a user, the OTP validity period could expire. But those banks who do choose Viber end up saving money.

Denys: Depending on TTL, Viber take up to 30% transactional traffic.

Banks usually set a maximum TTL of 15 seconds. And lose customer loyalty: in 15 seconds, the delivery report rarely reaches and the system sends the message via the SMS channel. Customers receive the same message multiple times, which makes them nervous. By increasing the TTL, GMS client Pumb Bank managed to hit the monthly delivery rate of 30%, which is 10% more than with TTL of 15 seconds.

In general, banks willingly use messaging apps, in particular Viber, to deliver important messages as a cheaper and more convenient channel, compared to SMS.

How can bank clients be confident that their data is secure?

Tetiana: Data privacy and information security are GMS’ top priorities.

Viber provides full privacy protection on its messaging service with the implementation of an end-to-end encryption. This means that all Viber messages between users and servers are encrypted, only the sending and receiving devices have access to the message. Moreover, there is a secret chat function that provides an extra level of privacy beyond that of a normal chat, including disappearing messages and controls on forwarding messages.

Denys: One more thing. If a Viber message is not delivered to a recipient, it bounces back to the server as a code and is stored there for two weeks, after which it is automatically deleted and no one can access it.

For those who still doubt the security of messaging apps, GMS offers a secure corporate information channel via VPN (Virtual Private Network).

Viber for banking: why and how

Tetiana: Back in January 2008, GMS client Alfa Bank had been sending just a small portion of traffic using Viber, mostly notifications– around 300,000 messages per month. In February (just a month later), we reached 4,000,000 messages. Now Alfa Bank sends about 7,000,000. Although we do not know what kind of traffic it is (as no one has access to such information), Viber is actually good for all types of messaging: mobile ads, surveys, transactions.

Denys: I can share a similar GMS-Ukrsibbank case. In just 4 months, since connecting to Viber services, the bank has gradually increased the volume of advertising traffic in Viber from 600,000 to 2,000,000 per month.

Using messaging apps gives you the chance to build a two-way communication — full-fledged dialogue — with your customers. Therefore, some banks launch simple chatbots in Viber or Facebook Messenger, which take over some of the work of call centres, making it easier and faster to collect reviews and surveys.

Advice to banks

– open a session to send messages via all three channels: Push-Viber-SMS
– use alternative texts: one for Viber (long and beautiful), one for SMS (brief and simple)
– use several protocols: json for transactional traffic + web protocol for advertising traffic.

Denys: If one connection fails (be it due to the internet not working, our failure to connect to the bank or the bank failing to connect to us) and the messages cannot reach clients, this could have disastrous consequences for a bank. That’s why GMS advises having additional, backup connection on another platform. We create such a reserve connection on our Swiss platform for all the banks.

We also advise increasing TTL to 60 seconds. This simple solution will save your budget and spare your client’s nerves.

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