MUMBAI: The relationship between Twitter and brands has taken another step as a leading Indian bank has incorporated the social media platform into its banking strategy.

Kotak Mahindra Bank claims the use of Twitter in real time for services such as requesting a cheque book or getting transaction details is a first for India and possibly the world.

And according to Sabyasachi Mitter, founder and managing direct of ibs, the digital marketing business that created the service, "transactions are the logical next step and will completely change the dynamics".

But he reminded Campaign India that banking was not only about transactions and submitted that easy access to information was also important, whether that was simply sending a DM via Twitter to get a credit card balance, or tweeting a bank to stop a lost or stolen card when on holiday.

The beauty of social media banking, he said, was that it took place on the platform of the users' choice, as they no longer had to open a separate interface or access any other device or any other application. It was, he thought, another step on the way to a "seamless interplay between conversations and commerce" on social media.

Mitter rejected a suggestion the bank might be concerned about negative comments on social media.
"A new age brand cannot run away from criticism," he stated. It understood that there could be some problems around any innovation and that customers would take to social media to air their grievances.

"What is critical is to be able to monitor and respond promptly to create customer delight," said Mitter. "A brand that does this will actually appeal to the social media generation."

He argued that it reflected positively on the bank as it showed "courage and conviction to take the usage applications to the very same channels of social media where they get such immense interactions".

Other Indian banks are also exploring the social media route. ICICI Bank has developed a Facebook app that allows users to check their account and pay bills. The campaign promoting the app was shortlisted for the 2014 Warc Prize for Social Strategy.

Data sourced from Campaign India; additional content by Warc staff