Craft Silicon Puts Banking into Messaging Apps

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / pockygalleryMessaging apps dominate smartphone use, particularly by millennials, so shouldn’t banks want to be where their customers are?

Craft Silicon, based in Nairobi, Kenya, certainly thinks so. It aims to help banks connect with customers by bringing simple banking functionality to messaging apps. At FinDEVr in New York Wednesday, CEO Kamal Budhabhatti showed off seven functions designed to work within Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Telegram, and other text-driven services. These functions were:

  1. Balance inquiry
  2. Transfer funds
  3. Mini statement
  4. Request Uber
  5. ATM locator
  6. Block/turn off card
  7. Check inquiry

This last function is for inquiring about the status of a given check by entering the check number. The commands — “atm” for find an ATM, “chq” for check (cheque in much of the English-speaking world) inquiry — work across platforms. Craft Silicon also intends to create a white-label chat app that banks can brand and use. An app such as this would have a button with a dollar sign or pound symbol that, when clicked, would open up a menu of financial functions.

But the messaging apps are where the company is focusing its effort. During the demo, requesting an Uber didn’t work, nor did the check inquiry. Several nearby ATMs, however, were successfully located.

This functionality is not up and running — the company is still ironing things out, but Craft Silicon operates a successful microfinance and digital banking business in East Africa and India, processing more than one million transactions a day.

Craft Silicon has put its finger on an important idea — the fusion of text banking and social media banking. Once the bugs are worked out, this could be extremely promising, and extremely popular.

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