U.S. mobile banking apps already let customers pre-order cash to take out at the ATM and make appointments to see bankers in the branch. Now a Polish bank is raising the time-saving stakes. Idea Bank has introduced a free feature for small business customers that lets them order a car with a built-in cash deposit machine to come to them within an estimated arrival time of 30 minutes. Like in the popular Uber and Lyft car-hailing services, a bank customer can look at the standalone app to see a map that shows where the driver is.
Currently, one car, a BMW, is servicing the Warsaw area and the bank will have two Fords circulating within the next two weeks. The Fords will have ATMs in addition to cash deposit machines. Eventually, Idea Bank, which counts about 200,000 entrepreneurs as customers, plans to have 40 cars driving to them.
“For the small business owner, it’s an attractive concept,” said Bill McCracken, CEO at Synergistics Research. “The cash challenge is not one technology has readily solved.” In the U.S., small business owners use the branch and ATM more than twice as frequently as retail customers – and the motivation for 80% of small businesses’ visits is to deposit money.
According to Idea Bank’s research, 1 in 3 business owners in Poland only transact in cash. And 80% of the respondents told the bank they deliver the money to the institution in person – which poses security concerns. The bank also said its customers rarely employ staff and are small-scale companies.
The initiative is meant to help build the image of a convenient and pleasant bank, Idea Bank said. Beyond the branding ambition, it also sees the app as helping to digitize money in a country where entrepreneurs often transact in cash for everyday payments, and in turn, help them improve their credit ratings. It also sees the car service as a way to attract new customers.
Katarzyna Siwek, the PR director for Idea Bank, said the bank is hoping to create something akin to Family Frost, a European equivalent of Mister Softee or Good Humor. Just as the ice cream trucks’ jingles draw people out to the streets, the bank hopes entrepreneurs will see others using its service and decide to sign up with the bank. “Neighbors follow neighbors,” said Siwek. “We hope that once you order the mobile [cash deposit machine] other entrepreneurs will follow you, and all the entrepreneurs on a certain street will use the service in a few months.”
Idea Bank’s car service, which is available to order from 8:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. with professional bodyguard drivers, is free for customers, though the bank is considering charging a fee for entrepreneurs who withdraw money from a card issued by another bank.