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ICICI Bank's Pockets app enables fund transfer through Facebook without entering recipient's account details; will it help online fraudsters?

ICICI-logoIndia's largest private bank, ICICI Bank, has launched 'Pockets' app on Facebook to enable customers to carry out a slew of banking services, including instant fund transfer without entering the recipient's bank account details, instead just mentioning their mobile number or email ID. The app also allows customers to recharge their mobile phone, book movie tickets, view transactions summary and know credit card details, among other services. The company said that the app is a natural progression of its 'Your Bank' Facebook app launched last year that enables customers to view their savings account details and statements; order cheque books and upgrade debit card through the site.

Announcing the launch, ICICI Bank CMD Chanda Kochhar said, "With the launch of Pockets, we bring the most comprehensive banking app on Facebook globally. Pockets will enable young consumers who spend a lot of time on Facebook to carry out a wide set of transactions without having to leave the social media site."

The Pockets app boasts of features such as Split 'n' share' and Pay a friend, in addition to other services. Split 'n' share allows customers to split and track group expenses, and share them with friends on Facebook. The app also gives the customer the option of sending messages to remind friends on pending payments. With the 'Pay a friend' feature, customers can transfer funds to their friends without knowing their bank account details like account number, bank branch, branch IFSC code etc. Instead, the sender can just mention the recipient's email ID and mobile phone number in the column provided in the feature and transfer funds instantly.

The new app also enables customers to view mini statement of savings bank account, know credit card details and getting demat holding statements. Through this app, a customer can also open a fixed or recurring deposit, order a cheque book, stop a cheque payment, and upgrade his/her debit card. Customers can access the app by logging into Facebook, accessing the official ICICI Bank Facebook page and clicking on the 'Pockets by ICICI Bank' tab. The user will have to register for the application by entering his/her existing debit card number along with the PIN. This will add the application to user's profile under 'Apps'. During the registration process, the user has to select a new four-digit PIN, which can be used for subsequent logins.

Although ICICI claims that it has the most advanced security features in place to ensure safe banking through Facebook, this feature could well be offering another 'safe place' for online fraudsters to carry out their clandestine operations. India has more than 82 million Facebook users and there is a great chance that many of ICICI's customers (especially those who have access to its net banking facility) could well be using Facebook. If they start using Pockets app on Facebook, it might further intensify online financial frauds in the country. According to a government report, the total amount involved in frauds relating to credit card, debit card and internet banking rose 74 per cent to Rs 38.4 crore in 2012.

(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)

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