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HDFC Bank to extend its mobile banking app for Apple Watch; Why?

HDFC Bank (2)

HDFC Bank is set to extend its mobile banking app for the Apple Watch, reports Business Standard. The Apple Watch was expected to be made available in India only in June or later, however now it looks like Indian e-commerce platform Grabmore.in is accepting pre-orders for all versions of the Apple Watch, which is expected to go on sale globally on April 24.

HDFC Bank’s head of digital banking Nitin Chugh told BS that they started developing the app for the Apple Watch when the developer kit or the Watchkit had been released. He also mentioned that the 8-10 most commonly used features on the bank’s mobile app will be made available for the Apple Watch app, including balance enquiry, pre-paid mobile recharge, utility bill payments, requesting cheque books and account statements among others.

HDFC has been making a push for mobile, especially now that it records the highest number of mobile banking transactions in the country. At the beginning of this year, it announced plans of launching a digital wallet and market place for various online merchants, and is expected to launch in a month’s time. In February, HDFC tied-up with mobile banking app Chillr to enable peer-to-peer money transfers. Users can make total transfers of up to Rs 5000 in a day over a maximum of 10 transactions. The bank claims that currently the average transaction value is about Rs 500. And now an app for the Apple Watch! Why?

Given that Chugh had earlier told MediaNama that for HDFC digital banking is not about coming up with new products as much as it is about adoption of these channels which are platforms for use for our customers, it is quite surprising why the bank is looking to extend its app for the Apple Watch even before Indians have got their hands on it.

Apple Watch Grabmore

Starting at a price of Rs 36,999 and going up to a heart-attack inducing Rs 17.5 lakh for the Apple Watch Edition version, it remains to be seen how many people actually buy this smartwatch. The novelty factor might lead some to buy it, some diehard Apple fans might buy it as well, but I doubt anyone else will be tempted.

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It’s also worth noting that HDFC Bank isn’t the only one who is interested in using wearables for banking. Rival ICICI Bank’s executive director Rajiv Sabharwal also said that the lender will be looking to develop banking products on wearables. We don’t know how this would work and whether it will be limited only to non-financial transactions, but it would be interesting to see how it pans out.

Note: The headline has been edited to reflect that HDFC Bank is only extending its existing iOS app for the Apple Watch and not releasing a completely new app.

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