The battle to win over the hearts and minds of consumers to mobile banking is like conquering the courts at Flushing Meadows-requiring fast returns, nimble mechanics and early anticipation of what strategy is needed for victory. As part of a promotion for its burgeoning mobile banking service, Chase gave away thousands of tickets to this year's US Open tennis tournament in New York via a campaign that used mobile technology as a vital component.

The tickets were given away to users who registered by sending text messages to the bank between June 9 and August 9, a move designed to demonstrate mobile banking and texting as a means of facilitating financial services that's fast, accessible and useful.

"It lets the bank show customers how easy it is for customers to get a text message response from the bank, whether it's about winning tickets to a tennis tournament or getting an answer to a balance inquiry," says Virginia Garcia, senior research director for emerging technologies for TowerGroup in Needham, Mass. "Once consumers go down the mobile banking path and get used to it, why would you call into a call center? Text messaging is so fast. So we'll be seeing lots more marketing campaigns like this in the coming months."

The text message campaign was part of a larger multi-million dollar advertising campaign spun off of JPMorgan Chase's overall sponsorship of the U.S. Open. The text message component was publicized via a number of decidedly old-school New York display ad venues, such as bus shelters, subway stations, commuter rail cars, taxi tops and pay telephone kiosks with the message: "CU @ THE OPEN. You could win U.S. Open tickets. Text 'WIN' to CHASE (24273) now!" Legacy bank channels also played a large role in the campaign, with information about the giveaway included on ATM screens, in brochures at the bank's network and in statement inserts.

The contestants were made up of both Chase customers and non-customers in the New York metro area. As soon as they sent the text, they got a text back from the bank telling them if they had won a ticket. Even if they didn't win, the return text directed users to the Chase Web site for additional information on the bank, its products and its foray into mobile banking. "The marketing campaign is designed to show the capabilities and the convenience of mobile banking," says Mike Fusco, a spokesperson for Chase in New York.

Chase didn't disclose take rates for mobile banking linked to the U.S. Open campaign. The firm had 460,000 customers signed up as of the end of May, Fusco says. Launched in September of 2007, Chase's mobile banking offers balance inquiries; a list of the five most recent transactions on checking, savings or credit card accounts; credit availability on credit cards; and information on other relationships and products such as CDs, mortgages, home equity, auto, education loans and investment products.

The bank hopes the simple act of using text messaging will help consumers clear the initial mental hurdles that often accompany the use of any new technology. "Despite all the talk about mobile banking, it's relatively nascent in terms of adoption and use," says Red Gillen, a senior analyst at Celent in San Francisco. "Banks are still trying to get people just to use mobile banking; they're still trying to get people on board."

Both Gillen and Garcia say that so far there hasn't been a lot of heavy marketing via text messaging beyond the Chase campaign. But that's likely to change given the heavy use of text messaging, particularly by young people; Garcia says Gen Y sends in excess of 11 billion texts per month, making text marketing a good way for banks to reach out to a new generation of consumers. And the Wireless Association reports 363 billion SMS texts were sent in 2007, up from 81 billion in 2005. "I don't think there's nearly enough text marketing being done by banks in the U.S.," Garcia says. "Young people have to be brought into the bank in the first place, so there's a lot of work that needs to be done."

Gillen says a likely next move for banks is to broadly market products via mobile banking, with general messages such as "CD rates have gone up by 50 basis points. Call the following 800 number to get more information." Other, more personal ads, such as "Joe, your CD is about to mature. Would you like to renew it?" could follow. Banks will have to beware of becoming spammers, however. "As with email, people are going to have to get used to the fact that they are getting ads on their cell phone, and that takes a while," Gillen says. (c) 2008 U.S. Banker and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved. http://www.americanbanker.com/usb.html/ http://www.sourcemedia.com/

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