HSBC texts passers-by with marketing messages

Banking giant HSBC has confirmed it is piloting a marketing system that sends text messages to the mobile phones of people passing by its London high street branches.


Users of Bluetooth-enabled mobiles who enter or walk past the bank’s branches at Canary Wharf and Regent Street will receive a text message from HSBC if their phones are set to “discovery”.

The initial message asks if the recipient would like to receive a message from HSBC. Those who select “yes” then receive a marketing message.

The pilot began at the start of the year and will finish in April. HSBC described the trial scheme as successful” so far.

A spokesperson said: “HSBC is running a small-scale trial of Bluetooth communications at a handful of our branches, including Regent Street and Canary Wharf. It is a new and different way of communicating and, while it is very early days, the feedback from passers-by and customers to date has been very positive.

She added: “It is too early to say how Bluetooth technology might be used in the future but if it continues to prove popular it is something we would consider if, when and where it is appropriate."

The system has been set up so that regular passers-by do not receive repeat messages. The technology recognises which devices have already received a text and will not send to them again until the marketing campaign changes, usually on a monthly basis.

Mobile users who do not switch their phones to “discovery” mode or who reply “no” to the initial text will not receive anything further, the spokesperson said.

In a more significant development last month, HSBC announced plans to standardise its Linux deployments on Novell’s Suse distribution, tapping into Novell’s tie-up with Microsoft.

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