July 02, 2012

Shastic, a Berkely, Calif.-based software company has developed Calcubot, a lead-generation financial calculator designed for Facebook. The application can be used as a loan calculator or modified to provide insurance quotes.

Financial institutions (FIs) can install Calcubot to their Facebook pages where the application will function as a financial calculator on the front end and a lead-generation system on the back end, according to a vendor statement. The application allows financial estimates to be saved and commented on by friends, family and advisors. It includes an "Alert Me" mechanism that monitors current rates and notifies users of potential savings by email or text message. Calcubot collects contact information and makes it available to the FI via reports, while also directing prospects from Facebook to the FI's online application and quoting systems.

"Financial institutions use Facebook as if driving a Ferrari at 10 mph on the Autobahn," comments Ariel Gómez, CEO, Shastic. "Calcubot shifts them into high gear." Shasti plans to release a full suite of Financial Facebook widgets for each major financial sector, including the insurance industry.

"Calcubot can be branded for and embedded in the Facebook pages of banks and credit unions," comments Stephen Applebaum, a Chicago-based senior analyst with Aite Group. "With minor modifications, the tool can be used to provide auto loans and insurance quotes," Applebaum says. "This can be an effective lead-generator for insurers that is also likely to result in referrals between friends."

"Insurers should welcome social business technologies that offer them broad, rapid and low-cost access to the large, growing and often affluent group of consumers who use Facebook and other social networking tools," Applebaum adds. "Many of the best such solutions are likely to come from innovative, entrepreneurial, early-stage companies whose founders are themselves members of the relevant demographic — and thus understand it well."

Calcubot provides an opportunity for smaller FIs to compete more effectively against larger ones, according to the vendor. While smaller companies enjoy higher customer satisfaction, they are able to spend heavily on. However, Shastic Facebook widgets give the smaller players an opportunity to punch above their weight, by making user satisfaction the battleground, argues Shastic's Gómez.

Shastic customer Kinecta Federal Credit Union's (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) marketing and e-commerce director Shannon Doiron comments, "Calcubot provides us an opportunity to tilt the balance of power in our favor when competing with large advertising budgets."

The application is easy to install, according to KayCee Murray, Numerica Credit Union (Spokane Valley, Wash.).

"The IT department is not required, and it can be live in a matter of minutes," Murray says.

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Shastic plans to release Financial Facebook widgets for each major financial sector, including the insurance industry.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek ...