India’s Kotak Mahindra Bank has started an online money transfer service that uses a person’s Facebook user name and password, the bank said in a statement on Monday. The service, which is “bank agnostic,” hopes to capitalize on India's significant, and growing, Facebook user base.
The bank captures an account holder’s details, from any one of 28 banks that have currently partnered with Kotak for the service, in a one-time registration on the new service’s website, which requires a Facebook login. Subsequently, the registered user only needs to choose the Facebook friend to whom the money is to be transferred. A one-time password, sent via a text message, adds an additional layer of security and following the transfer, the sender and receiver will receive text messages and Facebook notifications, the bank said in a statement.
Of the 108 million active monthly users of Facebook in India, the social networking site's largest base outside the U.S. and Canada, some 93 million do so using their mobile phones, making services such as the one offered by Kotak Mahindra Bank easily accessible. India is also one of the world's fastest growing smartphone markets. The bank said in its statement there 250 million people in India who have a bank account.
The service “is bank-agnostic, facilitating transfer of funds instantly,” Shanti Ekambaram, president of the bank’s consumer division, said in the statement. “The convenience of not having to know payee details breaks down all barriers of a process, which otherwise requires a host of information that one may not necessarily have handy.”
The catch is, if a person sends money to a Facebook friend who is not registered on this service, the recipient of the funds will be forced to register within 48 hours to get the money, or it will be credited back to the sender's account.
This story was updated to add details of Facebook users in India and the number of bank account holders in the country, in the third paragraph.