Go dutch on Facebook

You can now use Facebook to transfer funds. But how safe is the option?
Teena Jain Kaushal/Money Today        Print Edition: January 2015
How safe it is to transfer funds via Facebook
Photo: Reuters

You want to watch a movie. You send a group message on Facebook. Your friends want to go with you. You buy tickets for the whole gang. You like the movie. But then, all of a sudden, you realise you have no money left for the rest of the month. While some friends pay you immediately, others take forever. You spend the rest of the month worried about your finances. You swear not to do this again.

If you have faced such a situation, there is some good news for you. Some banks have launched a facility for instant transfer of funds to friends using Facebook. You just have to select the person you want to send the money to without bothering about his bank details. The facility is right now being offered by Kotak Mahindra Bank and ICICI Bank.

Recently, French bank Groupe BPCE, too, teamed up with Twitter to allow its customers transfer money. But how safe is it to do such transactions? According to a recent report by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, "The amount involved in frauds reported by India's banking sector more than quadrupled from Rs 2,038 crore in 2009-10 to Rs 8,646 crore in 2012-13."

Real time banking applications

Kotak has launched a money transfer application called KayPay. It allows you to transfer money to anyone on your Facebook friend list without her or his bank account details. All you need is an account with any of the 28 listed banks that have enabled Immediate Payment Service or IMPS. IMPS is an instant interbank electronic fund transfer service.

To avail of the service you need to register your bank account on KayPay by using your Facebook credentials. Once registered, you can transfer funds to your Facebook friend by entering the one-time password (OTP) sent on your mobile. If your friend is already registered under KayPay the amount will be credited to his account immediately. If not, he will have to first register with KayPay. If he does not do so within 48 hours, the money will be credited back to your account. The maximum amount that can be transferred is Rs 2,500 in a day and Rs 25,000 in a month. Kotak does not charge for the service.

Similarly, for sending money through ICICI Bank's Pockets, you have to generate a coupon for the required amount and send it to your friend. The friend can redeem the same instantly in any bank by authenticating himself. To start the process, you have to login to Facebook and register using your ICICI Bank Debit Card and PIN. Once registered you have to fill name and other details of your friend. A coupon will be sent to your friend. To redeem the coupon your friend will have to click on the link sent on his mail. The money will get credited after bank details and password send to you and your friend are keyed in.

PRIVACY & SECURITY

Fund transfer through KayPay is done after a two-level authentication-Facebook credentials and OTP. The bank also informs both sender and receiver immediately through an SMS.

Deepak Sharma, executive vice president, digital initiatives, Kotak Mahindra Bank, explains, "You can have 500 friends on Facebook but it is difficult to remember bank details of even five. Facebook authenticates for allowing you to use KayPay. All KayPay does is it pull your contact list through Facebook so that selection becomes easy for transferring money." However, when you register, you give KayPay permission to access your Facebook profile content, including name, friend list, birthday and city.

ICICI Bank states on its website that no personal information, account balance or transaction information is shared with Facebook through Pockets. Transactions take place on ICICI Bank's servers. The registration through debit card number and PIN authentication is through the bank's servers.

Probir Roy, co-founder of PayMate, says, "Prima facie it seems safe and convenient. There are adequate security layers at the Facebook stage (user name/password) and then at the registration stage for access and fund transfer." But what if your Facebook credentials are compromised? Experts say even if is the case, the fund transfer cannot be initiated without the OTP sent on your mobile. Moreover, the best is to start with small value transcations. Though there are different layers of protection, do not forget to take some precautions at your end. For example, do not give your phone to others, do not share your password, among other things. So, the next time when you hang out with your friends, do not forget to go dutch on Facebook.

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