Facebook Messenger Tests Bill Split Features

Facebook Messenger Tests Bill Split Features

Facebook Messenger unveiled today that it will pilot a feature that will allow users to split payments in the Messenger app. Facebook will begin testing the “free and fast way to share the cost of bills and expenses” next week for users in the U.S.

In a group chat or payments hub within Messenger, users select “get started” and can split a bill evenly or modify each person’s contribution amount. After the amounts are determined, users enter a personalized message, verify their Facebook Pay details, and send their request in a group chat in Messenger.

The launch of Facebook Messenger’s Split Pay feature comes as “Request to Pay” is heating up in the fintech world. Venmo has used QR codes to facilitate person-to-person payments since 2017, and Messenger began using similar functionality in June of this year.

Outside of the P2P realm, Request to Pay is becoming a popular way to replace payment methods such as cards, invoices, and direct debits in B2C and B2B transactions. Essentially, customers can pay for everyday purchases within a messaging framework. Shoppers can, for example, pay for their lunch by opening a push notification on their phone and accepting the payment, thereby finalizing the transaction.

Photo by fauxels from Pexels

Facebook Launches Novi Digital Payment App Pilot with Pax Dollar Rather Than Diem

Facebook Launches Novi Digital Payment App Pilot with Pax Dollar Rather Than Diem

Facebook has launched a pilot project for its digital payments app Novi and, courtesy of partnerships with Paxos and Coinbase, will use USDP (Pax Dollar) rather than its Diem stablecoin. The pilot will involve users in Guatemala and the U.S., enabling them to send money to their contacts internationally via the Novi app. The fund transfers are instant, secure, and fee-free.

The decision to use USDP, according to Novi head David Marcus, was not intended as a negative change-of-heart toward Diem. “Our support for Diem has not changed,” Marcus said. “We intend to migrate Novi to the Diem payment network once it (receives) regulatory approval.” He added that using USDP for the pilot project would enable the team to test the technology with a stablecoin that had both a track record of successful operation, as well as “important regulatory and consumer protection attributes.”

First introduced two years ago (as Libra), Diem was initially planned for a 2020 release. However, regulatory concerns emerged almost immediately. For some, the issue was Facebook’s role itself and the potential problems of a for-profit corporation issuing currencies. Others worried about how to classify the technology, as well as how to effectively regulate the Libra platform – especially if the technology was used to help Facebook expand into banking and lending services. These concerns, and Facebook’s apparent inability to respond to them thoroughly, led to a number of high-profile withdrawals from the project, as Mastercard, PayPal, Stripe, and Visa all elected to exit the Libra Association, an organization established to oversee the development of the technology. In November 2020, the project was revised so that Libra would be backed by a single currency, the U.S. dollar, on a one-to-one basis rather than backed by a basket of multiple currencies as previously planned. The project was also rebranded “Diem.”

In the current project, Novi will use the USDP for transactions, and Coinbase will serve as the custody partner. But as far as Facebook is concerned, the selection of the Pax Dollar over Diem at this point is more of a tactical retreat than a strategic withdrawal. “We believe a purpose-built blockchain for payments, like Diem, is critical to deliver solutions to the problems that people experience with the current payment system,” Marcus explained.

That said, even the new project continues to face criticism, with a handful of senators – including Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts – urging Facebook to suspend the project immediately. “Facebook cannot be trusted to manage a payment system or digital currency when its existing ability to manage risk and keep consumers safe has proven wholly insufficient,” the senators said in a statement.

Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

Pokemon Banking for Fun (and Profit?)

Pokemon Banking for Fun (and Profit?)

sberbankgo facebook page

The Pokemon Go craze doesn’t surprise me at all. Both my boys grew up with the little beasts so I get their appeal, especially with the AR boost. But what I didn’t expect to see were multiple financial institutions jumping on board, during the first week no less. And one, SberBank, that would pull off a clever product tie-in that might actually have a positive ROIsberbank go site.

Coinciding with the official countrywide Pokemon Go release (expected any day now), the Russian bank and insurer (and Finovate alum) is offering free accident insurance for anyone while they are playing the game. Users must register with the bank first (nice monetization through lead-gen) and provide evidence in the case of a claim (and some big costs).

The bank plans to use special game pieces called Lures, to drive players to branch locations. They are also providing additional bonuses for anyone catching a Pokemon in the branch.

SberBank created a special website just for the promotion at SberBankgo.com which explains the offer in both Russian and English (screenshot right). In addition, they’ve added a Facebook page to support the promotion (screenshot above).

pokemon go cu brandedWhile the free insurance promo is probably too costly to work in litigious U.S. markets, banks can still use the game to drive traffic. For example, Florida’s CenterState Bank has already experimented with lures at its branches (see full writeup on its promotion). Or if you just want to have a little fun on social media, drive your branded truck into the background while capturing one of the little critters. Kudos to CACL FCU in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, for acting on that first.

Bottom line: Jumping on the Pokemon Go bandwagon isn’t going to replace anything in your 2016 marketing plan; however, it could be a  low-cost way to:

  • Provide interesting content for your social media outlets
  • Gain some free PR (limited to first bank/CU that does it in a given market)
  • Provide leads for certain products (youth bank accounts, insurance, mobile banking)

CafeGive Powers Cause Marketing via Facebook

image The response  to Chase Bank’s Community Giving Facebook campaign has been remarkable (except for a few glitches). It’s one of the top social media successes across all industries (see previous post).

If you are looking to do something similar this holiday season (or more likely in 2013), you may want to outsource the tech to a specialist who can help maximize the power of social networks while keeping you from free from any controversy.

image There are a number of companies that can help you create Facebook apps. For example, we were recently briefed by a newcomer that has been getting some traction recently with a large U.S. bank and several credit unions, CafeGive.

CafeGive-powered financial institution examples:

  • US Bank ran a successful program earlier this year in partnership with the Oregon State Activities Association. In a strategy reminiscent of Chase Community Giving, the bank invited the community to nominate and vote (see inset; case study). Six winning high schools each received $2,500. The bank is expected to run the promotion again in 2013.
  • Patelco Credit Union is using a simple fundraising app they were able to deploy within a few days after Hurricane Sandy hit the Northeast USA (see screenshot 1 – 4). The app includes a progress bar, updated in real-time, showing progress towards the goal.
  • Alaska’s Credit Union 1 is donating $1 per like to the Food Bank of Alaska (see screenshot 5 & 6)

Many marketers have mixed feelings about cause marketing. On the one hand you are bragging about how generous you are while at the same time convincing your CFO that there is a positive ROI. But regardless of your motives, you want to get as much bang for your buck. Outsourcing the plumbing makes a lot of sense for these less-frequent programs.  

Bottom line: It’s win-win. You do the right thing and it improves your brand image and boosts employee morale.


Patelco Credit Union

1. Patelco features its CafeGive-powered donation app on its main Facebook page (link; 29 Nov 2012)

Patelco Credit Union features its CafeGive-powered donation app on its main Facebook page

2. Simple donation page with progress meter
(link; 29 Nov 2012)

Simple donation site with progress meter at Patelco CU

3. Co-branded payment page powered by PayPal

Co-branded CafeGive payment page powered by PayPal  

4. After completing the PayPal process, a thank-you page shows the progress bar updated with the new donation

Thank you page from CafeGive


Credit Union 1

5. Credit Union 1 showcases "like us | give" link on its main Facebook page (link; 29 Nov 2012)


6. CafeGive-powered "like us" promotion pays out $1 per like (link)

CafeGive-powered "like us" promotion at Credit Union 1 pays out $1 per like

1. According to CafeGive Founder Sandra Morris, consumers gravitate towards brands with a conscious. She cites a survey that showed the top-3 reasons millennials gave for using a brand were: a) convenience, b) online services, and c) give back.  
2. See our Online Banking Report "Banking in Facebook" (published Feb. 2012, subscription)

First Arkansas Homepage Goes All In with Social Media

image I don’t know how long First Arkansas Bank & Trust has had a big Facebook-like image dominating its homepage (see below), but it’s timely given all the attention the social network has received of late. Despite a little blip with the IPO, Facebook is one of most significant brands on the planet. So associating your financial brand with it is a good move.

FAB&T is using the homepage to create awareness of its four social network outlets:

  • Facebook | Like
  • Twitter | Follow
  • YouTube | Watch
  • Blog | Read

The huge Socialize With Us image is eye-catching and would garner a fair number of clicks, except for one problem. The entire center graphic, including the social media icons, are not clickable. The only way to get to the sites is to click on their icons in the upper right corner of the homepage (note 1). This is a strange design decision.  

Bottom line: While I like the approach of exposing all the trendy social media icons, I’m not sure FAB&T should be sending people to all four. The bank’s Facebook page is good, with a modern design, frequent updates, and 755 fans (see second screenshot). So, it makes sense to encourage users to visit and like it.

However, the other social media sites are a little anemic. The blog hasn’t been updated since the end of 2011; there has only been one tweet in the past 2 months; and the YouTube channel has limited content.

Like most financial institutions, FAB&T would probably be better served by focusing on Facebook (note 2) and letting the other sites go, or at least stop referring customers to them from the homepage. 


First Arkansas Bank homepage (31 May 2012)

First Arkansas Bank homepage (31 May 2012)

First Arkansas Bank Facebook page (link)

FAB&T Facebook page  

First Arkansas Bank Twitter page (link)
Note: The bank had one tweet in May, zero in April and a couple in March.


First Arkansas Bank Blog (link)
Note: The last post was almost six months ago. And the site is hosted on the Google’s free blogging platform, Blogger, which doesn’t really do much to help with the brand image.



image 1. And those all require users to click through a "third-party warning" before redirecting the user to the social network sites. That further gums up the user experience.
2. See our Online Banking Report "Banking in Facebook" published in Feb. 2012 (subscription).

Facebook Status Update: Financial Institutions Using New Timeline Format

image In our February report, Banking on Facebook, we identified 47 financial institutions worldwide with 100,000 or more Facebook Likes/Fans. With the clock ticking towards the month-end deadline for brands to move to the new Timeline format (previous post, note 1), we checked in with these 47 to see how many had made the switch.

So far nine of the 47 (20%) have implemented timeline including three of the top 5 (Progressive, Farmers, and American Express). But considering the companies have only known about it for two weeks, that’s good progress. The ranking shown below is based on their standing in late February 2012. The number of Likes below has updated as of today:

1. Progressive Insurance Flo, 3.4 million likes

4. Farmers Insurance, 2.3 million likes

5. American Express, 2.4 million likes

13. Garanti Bank (Turkey), 950,000 likes

18. Bank of Georgia, 320,000 likes

31. TurboTax, 210,000 likes

32. PayPal UK 200,000 likes

37. BBVA Continental 170,000 likes

40. TBC Bank (Georgia) 160,000 likes


Absa is using its timeline cover photo to promote electronic statements (12 March 2012)
Note: This may be a bit more "promotional" than Facebook was hoping for with its cover photo guidelines, but highlighting a product feature seems reasonable.



1. The Financial Brand published a helpful Timeline tutorial today (here)
2. No top-15 U.S. bank has implemented timeline yet. 

Can Banks Avoid Being Friends with Facebook?

image Last Tuesday, we published our first full report on how financial institutions can leverage Facebook for marketing, delivery and customer service. Then a day later, Facebook changed the rules for brand pages, forcing a redesign to the new "timeline" format (see third screenshot below for example; note 1).

It is largely a cosmetic change, akin to swapping out the window coverings in a branch. But it’s still annoying that the Internet giant only allowed 30 days to make the change. Obviously, the company still doesn’t know (or more likely care) how long it takes to revise marketing materials in the real world. 

While the timeline change doesn’t materially impact the tactics we looked at, it does illustrate a downside of developing on the Facebook platform (note 2):

  • Facebook sets all the rules and you must adapt to them
  • Facebook evolves faster than most brand marketing strategies, so it takes a commitment to keep up with the changes (this can be outsourced of course)
  • Facebook is so popular, and has so many ways to grow revenues, it’s not likely to listen business customers’ feedback (yet)

While those drawbacks may temper your investment for now, it doesn’t change the fact that you MUST pay attention to Facebook.


Whether you like or not, your bank is already on Facebook. Virtually every business entity of any size has a placeholder page on the social network (see the Fifth Third Bank placeholder below). These pages are closed, no wall posts, and generally pulled from Wikipedia company descriptions. So, they are relatively innocuous and are better than having users instead land on a random "yourbank sucks" page.

However, do you want customers or potential customers, evaluating you based on the intro to your Wikipedia page? And while there are very few (zero?) users searching inside Facebook for a bank, prospects will stumble on to your Facebook page from Google searches (see Astera CU search below).


Bottom line

While it’s not going to make a dent in your non-interest income shortfall, a few days spent sprucing up your Facebook page is a cost of running a consumer business in 2012 (see post-Timeline page at Oregon Employees CU below).

Larger investments are harder to justify (obviously). Consumers are not clamoring for "more bank" in their social networks. But based on the history of other media, consumers will put up with plenty of advertising noise as long as there is something in it for them.

We believe that eventually most banks will have at least a semi-sophisticated presence in Facebook (think website circa 2000). But given that the platform is still relatively unstable, there is no huge rush to go beyond the content basics.


Facebook placeholder for Fifth Third Bank (link)
Note: Surprisingly, 3,400 fans

Fifth Thrid Facebook "placeholder" page

Google search results for "Astera Credit Union"
Note: Astera’s "unmanned" placeholder Facebook page is the sixth link on Google organic search results. LinkedIn is second.

Organic search results for Astera Credit Union

Oregon Employees FCU has the first FI "timeline" page I’ve seen (link)
Note: Like activity is even more prominent than the old format

Oregon Employees FCU is one of the first FI timeline formated pages 

1. There are many resources available for brands looking for timeline tips for example here, here, and here.
2. Those of you with apps in Apple’s iOS store face similar ever-changing platform requirements. However, there is usually more lead time to make changes.  
3. Picture credit: Connect Media Blog

New Online Banking Report Published: Banking on Facebook

image We just published our latest report, Banking on Facebook, which looks at why you should establish a presence on the social network. And more importantly, what you can do to make the effort pay off.

To some extent, this report was overdue. Facebook has been a major social force for four or five years. However, it wasn’t until recently that brands have taken the platform seriously.

And while soft drinks and social games may dominate Facebook brand pages now, every major brand will be there eventually, financial services included. The opening to our report lays out the opportunity:

If there was a neighborhood that 90% of your customers visited frequently, many every day, how much would you pay to have a presence there? If you were small, maybe $10,000; if you were Chase, maybe hundreds of millions.

But what if it cost almost nothing to set up shop there? Basically, that’s Facebook: a place most of your customers frequent and where brands can establish a page for exactly zero dollars.

clip_image002In the 56-page report we cover:

  • 12 main reasons you should invest in a Facebook brand page
  • 12 primary components of a Facebook brand page (see screenshot below)
  • 42 advanced tactics for your Facebook page
  • 47 financial institutions worldwide with more than 100,000 Facebook fans/likes
  • Consumer interest in viewing bank account info, spending info, and credit info within their Facebook page
  • The importance of Facebook’s new "Action" buttons for banks (inset)
  • 23 Facebook terms you need to understand (e.g. social plugins)


About the report

Banking on Facebook (link)
It’s time to set up shop in the dominant social network

Author: Jim Bruene, Editor & Founder

Published: 28 Feb 2012

Length: 56 pages, 10 tables, 12,000 words

Cost: No extra charge to OBR subscribers, US$495 for others here


Sample screenshot
: We use Lending Club to illustrate the basic components of a Facebook brand page

Sample Facebook brand page from Lending Club

India’s ICICI Bank Launches Online Banking via Facebook

image You can really see how the global financial crisis has stunted banking innovation by looking at how little Facebook has been used as a delivery channel (note 1).

The first financial institution in the world to offer Facebook account access, KeyPoint Federal Credit Union (powered by MShift)  launched in Nov 2007 (post here), when the social network had “just” 50 million users.

In the ensuing 4+ years, despite an increase of 800 million more users, not a single major financial institution has followed in KeyPoint’s footsteps (see note 1).

Sure, there’s been some impressive Facebook marketing campaigns. Chase, American Express, and Capital One have all passed the 2-million “like” mark. But no one allows customers to check their balance/transactions right from within the social network (via a Facebook app).

But the drought ended this week, when India’s second largest bank, ICICI Bank, launched comprehensive Facebook services including account info (screenshot #1), offers (see #2), and a general jump-page to the bank’s main website (#3).

The new Facebook initiative is currently featured in the first promotion served by the bank’s homepage (#4, note 2).  

1. ICICI Bank’s Your Bank Account page in Facebook (link, 17 Jan 2012)

ICICI Bank's Your Bank Account page in Facebook  

2. Exclusive offers Facebook page (link)

Exclusive offers Facebook page (link)

3. Bank-on-the-go Facebook page: Serves as a launching pad to the specific areas on the bank’s main website

Bank-on-the-go Facebook page: Serves as a launching pad to the specific areas on the bank's main website

4. ICICI Bank displays a Facebook promo when landing on its homepage

  ICICI Bank displays a Facebook promo when landing on its homepage


1. Having been a product manger for several large banks, I get why the “Facebook project” hasn’t moved to the top of the queue; basically, lack of demand. Facebook may have nearly a billion users, but only a few percent are ready to bank there because it’s not seen as secure/private and it’s a place to connect with friends (see note 2). But despite the current lack of demand, we are confident that Web services, including banking & payments, have a promising future on the platform. 
2. ICICI Bank tackles security via a prominent mouseover on the main page:

The ‘Bank Account’ app is hosted on secured ICICI Bank servers and is made available on Facebook through a secure SSL connection. ICICI Bank has not transferred any data to Facebook. Your bank account information can only be accessed by you through your ‘Bank Account’ app on Facebook after successful registration which incorporates strong 2-factor authentication and setting up a personalized password. As long as you don’t share this information with others, no one can access your account through Facebook.

Currently through your ‘Bank Account’ app on Facebook you can view account details, mini statement and few service requests like applying for debit card.

This app lets you access your information only after authenticating your Debit Card Number and Password. As long as you don’t share this information with others, no one can access your account.

3. Viewing the page from a U.S.-based IP address.
4. We cover all the channels in our subscription newsletter, Online Banking Report.

Citibank Running Front-page WSJ Facebook Campaign

imageCitibank is using some of the most expensive real estate on the planet, the front page of the Wall Street Journal, to promote its Facebook page (see inset and below). The bottom-of-the-page banner invites readers to Like Citibank on Facebook to “find amazing ways to use your (ThankYou) points,” and directs them to Citi’s main Facebook page, facebook.com/citibank.

Visitors are shown a special page promising exclusive access to an upcoming Beyonce concert for Citibank ThankYou customers (see first screenshot). After, clicking the Like button, a new screen appears with a “coming soon” message (second screenshot).

As of 11:30 Eastern this morning, Citi had 34,500 likes, by midnight the total had grown by about 2,000 to 36,500. I don’t know where they started the day, but according Visible Banking, the Citi Facebook page debuted in mid-November 2010 with 7,000 likes, mostly from employees. 

Bottom line: I like the idea of creating exclusive benefits for Facebook fans. And perhaps Citi’s goal is to make this into a “teaser” campaign. But overall, I was disappointed not to receive any immediate info to reward me for taking the time to visit/like the bank’s Facebook site.


Citibank banner ad, bottom of first page of WSJ (Western edition, 16 Aug. 2011)

Citibank banner ad on bottom of first page of WSJ  

Citibank’s Facebook page, before “Liking” (16 Aug. 2011, 8:30 AM Pacific)
Note: This is the landing page displayed when using the primarily URL, Facebook.com/citibank

Citibank's Facebook page, before "Liking" (16 Aug 2011, 8:30 Pacific 

Citibank’s Facebook page, after “Liking” (16 Aug. 2011, 9:15 PM Pacific)


Finally, a Facebook Credit Card Connection to Really Like (Thanks American Express)

image Since Facebook became the de facto social operating system a year or two ago, I’ve been a little surprised the financial powers haven’t jumped on board more aggressively (note 1). But the card companies have had their hands full dealing with the credit meltdown, so it’s understandable.

But now that “big cards” are moving forward again, we’ll see a burst of activity leveraging Facebook and other social networks during 2012 and beyond (note 2).

Link, Like, Love from American Express  is a great example of what’s to come.

Here’s how it works (1 thru 5 illustrated in screenshots below):

  • Step 1: Go to the American Express Facebook page
  • Step 2: Add “Link. Like. Love.” to your Facebook profile
  • Step 3: Link your AmEx card to the app
  • Step 4: Sign up for offers you like
  • Step 5: Visit the merchant (whenever you like) and pay with your AmEx card
  • Step 6: The discount will automatically appear as a statement credit on your card



The AmEx program is very similar to bankcard-based, merchant-funded rewards, except for one huge difference. Instead of “liking the offer” during infrequent visits to your bank/card statement, you do it while on Facebook, which the typical user visits approximately a zillion times more than their bank (note 3).

MasterCard/Visa issuers will follow the same path, but AmEx bagged a ton of free publicity along with the first 2 million users. Like it, a lot.

Step 1: Visit American Express Facebook page
Note: 2 million “likes” (note 4)

Step 1: Visit American Express Facebook page

Step 2: Add the AmEx app

Step 2: Add the AmEx app

Step 3: Link card

Step 3: Link American Express card to Facebook

Step 3a: Complete form on AmEx webpage

Step 3a: Complete form on AmEx webpage

Step 3b: Share with friends (optional)

Step 4: Share with friends (optional)

Step 4: Activate offers with two clicks

Step 5: Activate Amex offers with single click

Step 4a: Confirm

Step 5a: Confirm

Step 4b: More optional sharing

Step 6: More sharing (optional)

Final: Offer now shows “Added”

Final: Offer now shows "Added"


1. Chase had the first “1+ million likes” financial promotion in early 2010 with its brilliant Community Giving program
2. We’ll see some great Facebook integration at FinvoateFall in two months. 
3. Presumably, I’ll be getting all kinds of Facebook and/or email messages from AmEx; although 2 hours post-signup, nothing was in either inbox.
4. During the 2 hours or so (4 to 6 PM Pacific) that elapsed while I was working on this post, the number of likes increased by more than 300. That translates to 3,000+ per day, or close to 100,000 per month. I don’t know how many likes AmEx had when the program launched, but it sounds like reasonable traction.

PerkStreet Financial Targets USAA Debit-Rewards Customers with Ads on Facebook

image Every once in a while I stumble onto Facebook, usually by following a link from a credit union or banking site. It happened a few days ago, when I clicked a link in the middle of Visions FCU Rocks, a cool youth banking microsite from Visions Federal Credit Union.

The Visions Facebook page was fine, but it was the little ad in the lower-right that grabbed my attention (see inset and screenshot below).

imagePerkStreet Financial, which has perhaps the richest debit-rewards program in the nation, with 1% to 2% cash back, is targeting USAA customers who just lost their debit card rewards program altogether. The landing page (see screenshot below) does a good job laying out the financial benefits and funneling visitors to the online app.

Bottom line: It’s a good time to tout debit card rewards, if you are sure you are keeping it. And targeting USAA customers specifically seems worth testing.

But if I was a USAA customer doing whatever people do on Facebook, I think I would find the, “Your USAA Account Changes” headline vaguely misleading. It might be better to use a headline more like the first sentence of the ad, “USAA is ending debit card rewards” or even, “Be glad USAA ended debit rewards.”  

That’s it for my attempt at teaching “headline writing 101.” Class dismissed. Have a great weekend.  

PerkStreet Financial targets USAA customers with Facebook ad (12 July 2011)

Perkstreet Financial targets USAA customers with Facebook ad (12 July 2011)

PerkStreet landing page (link)