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First Time Customer Acquisition Strategy Employed by JS Bank

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News Desk |

JS Bank became one of the first banks to invest into Application Program Interface (API) with the purpose of acquiring customers for digital or online banking unlike before. The API was a test run through a fantasy league gaming platform with a focus on customer conversions to make in-app purchases. The API is available in five languages and could be used on a number of platforms with the aim of initiating consumer banking.

Consumer banking remains a milestone yet to be reached by any major brand in the e-commerce industry. Although other banks have pursued customer acquisition strategies for digital-based transactions, the system is hardly modern and does not exist as a replicable template for other platforms.

In order to avoid the outdated clutter surrounding customer acquisition strategies, JS Bank decided to for a gaming platform-based approach to customer acquisition.

In terms of consumer banking, Pakistan is way behind in the industry since the main players have been caught within a redundant cycle of free offers, lucky draws, and contests to attract customers. Such campaigns are usually weak in terms of sales and while they manage to get people to turn up they fail miserably in customers and verified leads.

Habib Bank Limited and even Standard Chartered Bank are notable for such seasonal campaigns where their clients are only motivated to buy through discounts with partnered merchants, a software app for pocket banking and the occasional co-branded products.

Read more: JS Bank Digital Banking Bags ‘Best Digital Innovation Award’

Pakistan’s inclusion into the financial future thus remains a struggle with inefficient outcomes from highly expensive – and often useless – marketing expenditures in the long run. With the scrutiny of the State Bank of Pakistan finally coming to focus on digital markets and threats, there will be more regulation for more efficient customer acquisition programs and related services.

There seems to be a general air of unwillingness among competitors to invest in customer journey mapping and a gap between incentives and objectives of marketing and sales departments. In order to avoid the outdated clutter surrounding customer acquisition strategies, JS Bank decided to for a gaming platform-based approach to customer acquisition. In the days leading up to the Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2018, JS Bank launched a gaming app called the JS Apni Cricket League.

The API patent could continue to serve the long-term interests of JS Bank who would end up monetizing their platform as a service to other businesses interested in digitizing payments.

“The game was free to download and play,” said Omer Salimullah, head of open banking & ecosystem development at JS Bank. The idea was to motivate customers into setting up a digital wallet by putting in-app purchases that would improve chances of winning. For those with a bank account already, Inter Bank Fund Transfer could be used to augment game resources and eventually create customer loyalty.

Between 23 February to 25 March 2018, a dedicated ad campaign worth $1 million was implemented with Above and Below The Line marketing strategies. Digital Video Content was shot for four different ads was shot alongside a full-fledged communication model, university engagements and targeted marketing. “In-app purchases were two million rupees,” said Khurram Sheikh, the chief digital officer of JS Bank.

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According to Salimullah, the app had clocked over 350,000 downloads on a 99% daily engagement rate and a conversion rate of 22% where users opted for a digital wallet. From the total 75,000 conversions over 90% of customers chose a JS Bank account.

The app’s success has served as an example for the industry and shows how JS Bank’s Open API could be seamlessly integrated with any other app. JS Bank reports that over its 600-strong developer ecosystem has grown as a result of that success story. The API patent could continue to serve the long-term interests of JS Bank who would end up monetizing their platform as a service to other businesses interested in digitizing payments.

This is because the completed API is already available and syncs by itself to another app willing to use digitized payments without having to be manually guided by the team.

“We didn’t make this in-house,” said Salimullah. “We came across a startup in Lahore called Tacit Solutions and they created the UI and UX of the app in 30 days, including the fantasy league algorithm. The banking transactions using our API’s were incorporated in three days, with 80% of the transaction types you find in normal banking apps placed inside the gaming app.”

Salimullah is of the opinion that JS Bank saw success mainly due to the family-business nature of JS Bank where decisions go through only one person. This allows for greater probabilities of success since the developer department is not at loggerheads with the financial department bidding them give the green light, an inefficiency that exists in various public Pakistan. Secondly, he accredits JS Digital, the digitized ecosystem of JS Bank, which has its own team and office, being robust enough to independently pursue IT innovations through proper resource allocation.

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Interestingly enough the finished API can be deployed within a single decision and the digital team could integrate it within 24 hours. This is because the completed API is already available and syncs by itself to another app willing to use digitized payments without having to be manually guided by the team. “We take care of licensing, SBP, audit, compliance – you take care of the CX, marketing, and customer service.”


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