Tweets to handle your money matters

You can transact by sending a direct twitter message to your bank

If you think Twitter is just a social medium only to express your views on any latest development or to converse with your friends, you are wrong. It can also be used as a tool to perform some of your banking operations, through what is called “Hashtag Banking” or “Twitter banking”.

How to register

ICICI Bank, Axis Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank and State Bank of India (SBI) currently offer Twitter/hashtag banking service. To use the service, you need to have a Twitter account and follow the bank with which you have an account, on Twitter. For instance, if you have an account with Axis Bank, follow the handle @AxisBankSupport on Twitter or @TheOfficialSBI if you are an SBI customer.

The second step is to register for using this service. You can do this by sending a direct twitter message to the bank’s twitter account as #reg followed by your registered mobile number or customer id or account/debit card number (whichever is applicable). You will get a one-time password on your mobile. Send a direct message on Twitter as #regotp mentioning your OTP, and voilà, you will be registered for hashtag banking services.

What’s on offer

Banks offer both financial and non-financial transactions through Twitter. Financial transactions include operations such as recharging your pre-paid mobile phone or DTH service, paying postpaid mobile bills and money transfer. Balance enquiry, account statements, request for cheque books, details of last few transactions, locating the nearest ATMs and branches are the non-financial services that can be availed of. You can even transfer money to your friends through Twitter if you are a customer of ICICI Bank or SBI.

How it works

Non-financial transactions can be done instantly by sending a direct message to the bank. For instance, you just have to send #Bal, #Txn or #STMT to get your account balance, last three transactions or last three months’ statement, respectively, through email in the case of Kotak Mahindra Bank.

But for financial transactions,you need to generate an OTP every time to facilitate the transaction. For example, if you want to recharge your mobile, in the case of Axis Bank, you have to send a direct message as #sendOTP to @AxisBankSupport.

The OTP will then be sent to the mobile number which you had registered with the bank. Using this OTP, you can send a second direct message mentioning the respective hashtag and the specified format given by the bank for recharging your mobile number.

Is it secure?

A common myth is that using social media like Twitter for performing banking transactions is not safe, unlike internet banking. But Twitter is just a medium to converse with the bank. As mentioned earlier, any financial transaction must be initiated by requesting an OTP which will be sent to the registered mobile number. This will serve as a security check.

Secondly, Ms Abonty Banerjee, Senior General Manager and Head - Digital Channels, ICICI Bank says, “All the transactions happen on ICICI Bank’s server and behind the bank’s firewall. So, it is just as safe as internet banking. Twitter is just a front-end channel where the customer places only his request.”

In case of money transfer, you will receive a password on your mobile which will have to be shared with the beneficiary. The beneficiary will get a link on Twitter. After clicking this link and authenticating his Twitter account, the beneficiary can use the password obtained from the sender to get the money transferred to his account.

Pros and cons

In this age of smartphones, ‘hashtag banking’ is yet another way of executing banking transactions on-the-go. The good thing is that the communication is sent as a “direct message” to the banks and not as tweets. So, the message(s) or request(s) sent by the customers can be viewed only by the banks unlike the tweets which are available for the general public.

But on the flip side, one has to remember the syntax for each transaction. Say, you are recharging your mobile phone through Twitter using your Kotak Mahindra Bank account, you have to send a message as “#mobilerecharge <mobile no.> <operator> <amount> @KotakBankLtd”. This may be cumbersome to remember. Secondly, there are limitations on the number and quantum of transactions that can be made using Twitter.

Axis Bank requires a minimum of ₹200 and restricts the maximum to ₹5,000 for recharging your DTH. It allows only three transactions per day per DTH number.

Kotak Mahindra Bank allows 10 mobile recharges and five DTH recharges in a month through Twitter.

ICICI Bank allows you to transfer up to ₹5,000 per transaction and the cap for the daily transfer is ₹10,000.

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