First Direct targets customers with banking advice podcasts

First Direct, the direct bank owned by HSBC, is targeting its 850,000 internet customers in a series of podcasts – the first to be launched by a UK bank.

The podcasts – audio files downloaded from the internet – go live in June and will tackle a number of financial issues. The bank’s head of e-commerce, Darren Sugden, features in the first podcast, which focuses on online security. The programme offers tips on how to choose passwords and ensure personal details are secure from fraudsters. Further programming will follow.

Jenny Southwell, head of e-marketing, says the launch underlines the bank’s commitment to communicating with its customers.

She says more than 80% of the bank’s customer contact is now online and the podcast initiative comes in the wake of research showing that most of the UK’s population do not know enough about protecting themselves online. First Direct parent company HSBC recently supported the Government “Get Safe Online” initiative.

Earlier this year First Direct appointed former Asda marketing director Chris Pilling as its chief operating officer. It was seen as a continued sign that the direct brand, which started out as a telephone banking service, is looking to the retail sector.

Last August First Direct developed an online chat service to give customers access to representatives through its website 24 hours a day. When it originally launched in October 1989 it promised customers an “alternative” to the high street, and offered a full telephone direct banking service available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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