As members of the Bank Innovation community know, we have an active Twitter feed at @BankInnovation, which has more than 6,600 followers. With such an active feed, we’re getting new followers all the time.
But one stood out yesterday: @The_Social_Bank. When I saw that @The_Social_Bank was starting to follow us, I wondered, Could it be that a true social bank was started?
The answer was, alas, no. @The_Social_Bank “shares information,” but doesn’t offer banking services. As the Twitter feed owner told us, “I am hoping to do more, but day job and life schedules sometimes get in the way. I have been in the financial industry for a while but my roots are sales and marketing and I like bridging the two. [Social media encompasses] sometimes difficult concepts for our banker friends to get their conservative heads around, so I try to give perspective to social media and how it can (and does) work.”
(My thanks to my colleague, Mary Wisniewski, for reaching out to @The_Social_Bank.)
We’re all for that, but we still see a profound need for a truly social bank. Let me explain by alerting you to an app outside of financial services called Waze. An Israeli startup, Waze helps drivers avoid traffic through social media. This may sound ridiculous, but it works — and works well. After you enter a route for navigation, Waze can sense whether your mobile phone — and, therefore, your vehicle — is slowing by monitoring the device’s GPS locator. When you slow, a popup on Waze asks, “Are you in traffic?” and you have the option of answering “Yes” or “No.” Other drivers do the same and soon you have a socialized, real-time alert system for traffic. Not surprisingly, the app is wildly popular on iTunes.
There are ways (excuse the reference) to apply this to banking, and not just to alert others to deals. One would be in personal finance advice. Today, it is nearly impossible to stay on top of all the ins and outs of personal finance. A Waze for personal finance would help. Yes, there is Mint, but there is little transacting that can be done through Mint. Mint has also effectively stopped evolving since Intuit bought it.
When it comes down to it, consumers deserve a truly social bank, and while @The_Social_Bank isn’t it — at least for now — I’m hoping one comes along soon. Consumers will be the better for it.