Launching: ING Direct Unveils $10 Million Campaign for Teen Banking

image Just last month we published a report (here) about the large, and mostly unmet, opportunity to bank tweens/teens AND their parents.

Evidently ING Direct didn’t need our report. The direct bank, soon to be part of Capital One, is launching an aggressive $10 million advertising campaign for its new MONEY account (note 1). There’s no official mention of the program at ING Direct, except for a wall post on its main Facebook page (see last screenshot).

However, several online elements have been released:

Product: There’s only a few sentences describing the product, but it sounds like a standard checking account with debit card access. It will have no fees and no minimums and can be managed online (duh) and through a smartphone app.

Campaign: The $10 million campaign (note 2) is primarily fulfilled via Facebook (see screenshots below) and includes:

  • Advertising on Facebook and online
  • Supporting sweeps has (10) $1,000 prizes, (10) MacBooks, (20) iPod Touches
  • Those submitting pictures of themselves, may get it projected on a Times Square Jumbotron for 15 seconds (begins Sept. 15)

Our take: With 1% rates killing its traditional value proposition, it makes perfect sense for ING Direct to build for the future by positioning itself as a place that caters to the banking needs of the entire family. Well played.


1. ING Direct’s teen-banking microsite at (30 Aug. 2011)
Note: In the lower right is a “pre-registration form” where the bank collects the name and email address of interested parties

ING Direct teen banking microsite at (29 Aug 2011)

2. Parents are encouraged to send a message to their children to let them know about the sweeps
Note: The lower right contains a place for parents to send email messages to their children

2. Parents are encouraged to send a message to their children to let them know about the sweeps

3. Facebook page at <>

3. Facebook page at <>

3. Facebook page info page (Facebook app)

3. Facebook page info page

4. Facebook page sign-up form

4. Facebook page signup form for ING Direct Money

5. Thank-you page after pre-registering


6. Wall post this afternoon on main ING Direct Facebook page (link, 30 Aug. 2011)

6. Wall post this afternoon on main ING Direct Facebook page (29 Aug 2011)


1. New agency Berlin Cameron is spearheading the effort according to today’s Adweek article.
2. That’s about 40% of ING Direct’s projected $25 million media spend for 2011.
3. Hat tip: MyBankTracker
4. For more on teen banking, see our recent Online Banking Report.

ING Direct Raises the Security Bar Again with Checkbook Activation

ING Direct has brought a number of security innovations to the United States: 

  • Password entry via pin pad instead of keyboard
  • Trusteer “safe login” browser plugin (previous post)
  • Challenge questions at login (when needed)

  Now add a fourth item to that list:

  • Authorization required when a new book of paper checks is ordered (see update below)

ING Direct, which famously eschewed paper checks when it launched a checking account, Electric Orange, in 2007, recently began offering a paper-check option. True to form, ING Direct added a few twists to standard industry practices:

  • Paper checks can be bought only in quantifies of 50
  • Each order is just $5
  • Only one set of 50 can be ordered at a time (but once they have been authorized, another set can be ordered)
  • Before the checks can be used, the book of 50 must be activated online (similar to credit/debit card authorization)
  • Because the order must be authorized, third-party paper checks will not work at ING Direct (another security improvement)


How it works

The bank isn’t exactly pushing paper checkbooks. There are no obvious links to the option on the primary or secondary navigation. Users must click on the Payments tab, then select Overview on the secondary navigation. That brings up a list of the ways to make payments, with “Checkbook” listed half-way down the page (see below).

New paper-check option at ING Direct (12 Aug. 2011)

ING Direct's paper check book option 12 Aug 2011

And the bank’s order form is drop-dead simple, unlike most major banks which drop you to a third-party order-entry site.

One-click check-ordering process

One-click check ordering process at ING Direct

Confirmation screen explains next steps

Confirmation screen explains next steps


My take

Offering paper checks is a good move. Most U.S. customers still need the occasional paper check, and waiting 5 days for ING Direct to send one out on your behalf was slow and cumbersome.

And I really like the authorization feature. Since I was old enough to know about check fraud, I’ve always felt that a book of checks sitting in my mailbox was a bit disconcerting. This solves that worry.

Finally, the $5 per 50 pricing is consumer friendly and competitive. The lower quantity (compared to typical 150-200 orders) subtly discourages paper-check usage, but the price is in line with other financial institutions, which typically charge $15 to $25 per 200 checks (note 1).


PS. ING Direct must be very close to launching remote check deposit. It has a “stay tuned” message posted under the “Deposit Checks” tab in secondary navigation (see below). 

ING Direct’s website implies that remote check deposit is coming soon (12 Aug. 2011)

ING Direct's website implies that remote check deposit is coming soon

Update (16 Aug. 2011): I heard from Citibank today. Apparently, they’ve used checkbook authorization for online account opening since 2007.

1. And you can pay more: Chase recently dinged me for $23 for a book of 50 money-market checks (which I didn’t ask for) when I opened a new business savings account. In comparison, I earned $0.40 (before tax) in interest on the balance. That means it would take more than 7 years to earn enough interest to pay for the book of checks. But I’ll give Chase credit for immediately reversing the fee after I dropped the unwanted checks off at the branch. 
2. Apparently ING Direct changed its homepage navigation items earlier this year. The overall minimalist design remains unchanged. But now, in addition to View My Account, the bank offers three choices: Banking, Investing or Retirement. Previously, there were only two other choices: Open an account and Learn more.

Southern Bancorp Launches "Shake and Bank" iPhone App Aimed at Youth

image It’s been more than six months since we last featured a new mobile app from a financial institution (see Arvest Bank’s financial calculators). It’s not because of lack of activity, or importance. In that time, more than 1,000 financial institution apps have been introduced and the market has really heated up.

But we focus on what’s new and different. And for the most part, the class of 2010 and 2011 have been “me-too” entries. Which is exactly as it should be. Every mid-sized and larger bank and credit union needs at least one app in the iTunes store, so the last 18 months have been about gaining competitive parity. 

But things will start to get more interesting again as financial institutions:

Southern Bancorp’s new mobile app, Shake and Bank, ticks all four boxes. It’s an iPhone/iPod Touch app designed to give kids (or any account holder) a quick look at the balance in their account. As you can see below, Shake and Bank is pretty much self-explanatory:

1. Open app (note 1)

2. Shake iPhone

3. See balance

The app requires a setup code to launch. According to the iTunes entry, the code can be obtained through the bank’s website or at a branch. But as of today, I see no mention of Shake and Bank, or mobile banking for that matter, at their website.

Bottom line: I’m a sucker for pigs, so obviously I like it. But more importantly, Southern Bancorp makes it easy to monitor account balances with a simple kid-friendly approach. And parents will appreciate the help reinforcing the savings habit (note 1).

Southern Bancorp has $1.1 billion in assets and 40 branches in Arkansas and Mississippi.

Southern Bancorp’s iPhone app targeted towards kids (link, 25 April 2011)

Southern Bancorp's iPhone mobile banking app targeted towards kids      image 


1. Since I couldn’t test the app without an account, I assume there is no subsequent login requirement once you’ve entered the setup code. And more importantly, I hope that it oinks when shaken. 
2. For more info on mobile banking, see our previous Online Banking Reports.

Piggymojo Hooks up with Brooklyn FCU to Power "Impulse Savings"

imageLast June, we wrote about Piggymojo’s unique “impulse saving” tool designed to help couples motivate each other to save (previous post). Basically, you text your spouse when you save cash during the day, e.g., drinking the company’s free swill instead of trekking to Starbucks.

The concept is great, but it needs direct integration to financial accounts so those “virtual saves” are translated into actual dollars sitting in a savings account.

imageToday, the Brooklyn-based startup announced the first financial institution integration with Brooklyn Cooperative Federal Credit Union. The program is being funded in part with a $300,000 CFSI grant to gauge whether the program helps lower-income members to increase their savings (press release). Four other projects shared in the $1.5 million total grant (details). 

Weekly summary of savings activity via Piggymojo (7 March 2011)

Weekly summary of savings activity via Piggymojo (7 March 2011)

Longer-term tracking

Longer-term tracking at piggymojo


Note: For more info, see our Online Banking Report, where we wrote in late 2008 about various ways to leverage your online/mobile channel to boost deposits (here).

Google Launches More Financial Product Comparison Pages: Savings Accounts, Checking, CDs, and Mortgages

image Today, I ran into Google’s new savings-account comparison chart for the first time (see notes 1, 2 and screenshot below, link). The search giant now offers separate pages with financial product comparisons for mortgages, credit cards, CDs, checking, and savings accounts. And the comparison matrices are at times positioned prominently on searches potentially reducing traffic to top advertisers and to organic results as well (see screenshot below).

Savings account search results
Let’s look at an example search today for “savings accounts.” The results include a blue-chip lineup of paid advertisers. Following is a list of the top 10 paid results compared to their position on the Google comparison page (note 3):

1. American Express (#1)
2. ING Direct (#7)
3. US Bank (#24, 30, 32, 33)
4. BECU (local advertiser)
5. Citibank (#19, 25, 26 )
6. Capital One (#10, 15, 31)
7. Navy Federal CU
8. TD Ameritrade
9. Zions Bank (#4, 5, 22, 23, 27)
10. Discover Bank (#2, 11)

I still don’t understand why Google would risk antagonizing its financial advertisers by drawing traffic away from their ads and into the Google-powered comparison matrix. The company says its focus is on the user experience. So I guess they believe that long-term this approach will generate more traffic, more searches and ultimately more revenue, possibly from commissions for actual accounts generated, rather than just pay-per-click.

But in its current beta stage, there are some odd results. How would you feel if you are US Bank, bidding high enough to be number three on the search results page, but not shown until page three of the savings-account comparison page? Worse, three top-10 advertisers, BECU, Navy Federal CU, and TD Ameritrade aren’t even listed on the savings comparison page.

Which brings up a bigger question. How does Google determine which FIs are listed? The savings-product comparison indexes only 17 banks, of which five aren’t even playing the rate game at this point with rates of 0.25% or less (note 4). Furthermore, there’s not a single credit union and just one smaller bank (Bank of Internet) listed. 

I understand this is just a trial balloon from Google and that product comparisons could make it easier for users to find the best rate. But right now it’s unfair to any financial institution not in the chosen 17, and it doesn’t allow users to easily choose from criteria other than rate, monthly fee, and whether a branch is nearby.

It also looks like the system could be gamed. What’s to prevent one of these banks from launching ten, or 20 or 30 different savings accounts, all with temporary teaser rates, to soak up more space in the matrix?

Sure, Google will eventually build algorithms to prevent that, but that will take time. Meanwhile, it’s an odd transition time for the search engine and its financial advertisers. But if you rely at all on Google to deliver new customers, you better pay close attention to developments with its product-comparison pages.

Google search for “savings accounts” (12 Jan. 2011, 4:00 PM Pacific, Seattle IP address)

Google search for "savings accounts" showing new product comparison ad

Google’s “savings” comparison page

Google's "savings" comparison page

Offer details page for American Express High-Yield Savings

Offer details page for American Express High-Yield Savings


1. According to, Google started running the deposit-account comparisons in late December 2010 in the U.S. market.
2. We wrote about Google’s credit card comparison matrix in November.
3. Google’s savings-account matrix listed a total of 44 results, from 17 unique banks, displayed 10 per page
4. 14 of the 44 results, almost one-third of the matrix, were accounts paying 10 basis points or less.

USAA Promotes Teen Checking Accounts


In doing some initial research for a report we are planning for Q1 on “family bank accounts,” I started where I usually do, on Google. The only financial institution advertising specifically on the term “teen banking” was USAA (see note 1).

The top-of-the-page ad led to a well-designed landing page devoted to Teen Checking (see screenshots below) with a clever call to action: 

We won’t take any of your teen’s allowance.
Teen checking without hidden fees.

USAA even has a dedicated site with its own URL to support its youth-banking efforts:

Relevance for NetBankers: Teenagers may be one of the most lucrative segments to attract to your financial institution. They not only spend billions themselves, but also could literally stick with you for a lifetime.

The thinking goes something like this:

  1. Attracting the children of your customers helps you retain the parents
  2. Retaining the parents helps you retain the kids as they become young adults
  3. Young adults become parents
  4. Repeat

This didn’t work so well in the old branch-based world because one of the first things the kids did when they moved away was open a checking account at the closest branch to their new apartment or dorm room. In an online/mobile-centric world, that no longer has to happen. 

Google search for “teen banking” (see note 1; search conducted at 5:00 PM on 11 Jan. 2011 from Seattle IP address)

Google search for "teen banking"

USAA’s “Teen Checking” landing page

USAA's "Teen Checking" landing page

1. First-page organic results included (note, search was limited to items posted in past month) 
— Fremont FCU
— North Shore Bank
— Coast Hills FCU
— U.S. Bank (Visa Buxx)
— S.T.A.R Community Credit Union
— American Riviera Bank (my new favorite bank name)
2. If anyone wants to point out great examples of teen/youth/family banking efforts, please drop me an email or leave it in the comments. Thanks.

Out of the Inbox: Cascade Bank Drives Customers to Branch with One-Day iPad Giveaway

image I’ve long been an admirer of Cascade Bank, a $1.7 billion bank headquartered in Everett, WA. A friend was marketing director there for a number of years, and I learned a lot from her about community bank marketing and management.

While I used to have a mortgage at Cascade, I don’t have any accounts now; hence, the email I received earlier this week. The bank invited prospective customers to come to one of its 22 branches (today only) and enter their name in a drawing to win an iPad. Five iPads were being given away bank wide.

And while in the branch, hoping to pick up a free ipad, the bank dangled an attractive duffel bag in front of visitors as a premium for opening a new checking account. And Cascade promised to drop an extra $25 in your account if you traded in your old check register from the competition.

Bottom line: Thanks to the iPad and some great graphic design, the mailing had a stunning visual, good title, and compelling offer. Excellent work.

Email announcing the giveaway (received 30 Nov. 2010)

Cascade Bank Email announcing the giveaway (received 30 Nov 2010)

Cascade Bank homepage (3 Dec. 2010)

Cascade Bank homepage (3 Dec 2010)

Landing page pitches free checking with duffel bag premium and $25 bonus 

Cascade Bank Landing page pitches free checking with duffel bag premium and $25 bonus

Note: For more ideas, see Online Banking Report: Growing Deposits in a Digital Age.

Service Credit Union Doubles Up on Black Friday Hoopla, Also Promoting Cyber Monday Offers

imageING Direct ran a slew of Black Friday offers again this year (see screenshots below; last year’s coverage). And they weren’t the only one. Service Credit Union also ran a homepage-dominating ad for its 6 AM-to-noon “doorbuster deals” today:

  • 10% APY 3-month CD with maximum deposit of $1000…$23 in extra interest compared to its regular CD (pre-tax)
  • Fee-free Visa gift cards (limit 5)
  • 1% rate reduction on new personal loans
  • $25 Visa gift card for opening a new credit card
  • Unspecified “in-branch checking account specials”

The credit union’s U.S. branches opened at 6:00 AM to mimic the retail craziness on the day after Thanksgiving. Specials were available until noon only, and all required a branch visit to redeem.

I was going to say something about the lack of online-redemption options, but luckily I checked back after noon and found that a Cyber Monday promotion had taken the place of the Black Friday ad. Online users are being offered similar specials on this coming Monday (aka Cyber Monday):

  • 7% APY 3-month CD with $1000 max deposit (a $17 interest bonus)
  • $100 bonus for opening a new checking account (requires direct deposit and estatements)
  • $25 Visa gift card for opening a new credit card
  • Free personalized credit card design for first 100 members ($9.95 value)
  • $25 Visa gift card for a referral

Bottom line: The dual promotion was a clever way to involve both online and in-branch members.

Service Credit Union placed a bold advertisement on its homepage promoting its Black Friday deals (10:00 AM Pacific, 26 Nov. 2010)


Later in the day, the CU posted Cyber Monday specials on the homepage (1:00 PM Pacific)


Landing page (link)


ING Direct homepage on Black Friday (26 Nov. 2010


Landing page (link)
Note: Offers are good for the entire weekend


ING Direct Adds Kids Savings Accounts

imageWe first opened an account at ING Direct back in 2001, not long after it opened for business in the United States. Almost since the beginning, my wife and I used it to store money and handle allowance bookkeeping for our kids. To keep things simple, we  created sub-accounts from our main savings account.

That made for a super-easy setup since it takes about 20 seconds (I’ve timed it) at ING Direct to create a new sub-account. The sub-accounts are nicknamed for each child and automatic transfers drop their allowance in so we no longer had to remember that every week. It’s a great system. 

However, the above approach doesn’t officially put the money into the child’s name, which could have tax and other advantages. And if you want to provide your kids with online account access, you have to turn over your own username/password. And if you do that, there’s nothing to keep enterprising youngsters from making an extra transfer or two into their own accounts. While I’m sure that wouldn’t happen in our house (right, boys?), it’s not an ideal setup.

ING Direct solved those limitations in October when it launched special kids savings accounts, which are joint accounts with an adult. But the child gets his own login-info separate from the adult. Kids can log in to check their balance, but only the adult can make transfers.

The ING Direct kids account pays the same rate as the adult version, currently 1.1%. And there are no fees, an ING Direct custom. The only downside, you have to complete a small application process, which took 3.5 minutes, not much, but still a bit of a chore compared to the 15-second, sub-account set-up process.

Once established, the new savings account shows up on the adult’s main account menu like any other account.

Bottom line: It’s a nice addition to the ING Direct lineup. While relatively bare bones in terms of features and functions, it will be interesting to see what the bank does with it over time such as integrating with Planet Orange, the bank’s financial education effort (see screenshot below).

Landing page for more info on Kids Savings Accounts ( link, 23 Nov. 2010)

ING Direct Landing page for more info on Kids Savings Accounts

Kids account application, for adding to an existing adult account
Note (not shown): On the second step, you choose a 6-10 digit unique PIN for the child and on the third step, you fund the account with a minimum opening deposit of $1.

ING Direct Kids account application, for adding to an existing adult account

Planet Orange is the bank’s financial education resource <> Note: So far, no integration with Kids Savings

Planet Orange is ING Direct's financial education resource

Hat tip: