Mumbai: Banks have studiously avoided wooing children. Things are, however, changing. ICICI Bank, India's second largest bank, has just tied up with Cartoon Network, the leading kids' network, and signed on their iconic toon stars, Tom and Jerry, as brand ambassadors for its Young Stars Account.
"The Young Stars account is another pioneering product from ICICI Bank that initiates children to the world of banking and finances," says Chanda Kochhar, executive director of the bank. "With this innovative product, the entire family is involved with the Bank and while parents can monitor their child's expenses, children learn to manage their expenses themselves."
With 54 per cent of India's population currently under the age of 25, marketers cannot afford to ignore the young and banks are realising the enormous size of the under-18 market in India, and are eager to sign up youngsters.
The new account, Kochar believes, will inculcate the habit of saving money amongst kids, while making it a fun filled and exciting experience.
The Young Stars Account allows children, up to the age of 18, to learn and manage their finances, even though it is operated and monitored completely by their parents. Children above the age of seven will get a personalised international debit card with the account. Other facilities include a special recurring deposit, free international debit card and even internet banking.
But there are some facilities that only parents can access, such as online opening of fixed deposit, recurring deposit and funds transfer from parent to child's account.
ICICI Bank has a customer base of over 17 million accounts, and operates 610 branches and extension counters and over 2,200 ATMs across India. The bank, with assets of nearly Rs2,125 billion, provides a wide spectrum of financial services to individuals and companies, and to NRIs.
For Cartoon Network Enterprise (CNE), part of the Time Warner Company, the innovative promotional licensing deal with the bank will help it expand its presence in the country. Says Jiggy George, director, CNE, India and South Asia: "This proves the
power of Cartoon Network and the mass appeal of its toon stars. I am positive that Tom and Jerry, who continue to rule the hearts of Indian kids and adults, will help make this innovative initiative even more attractive."
The company is a pioneer in the Indian licensing and merchandising industry, having established the concept of promotional licensing with a host of clients in the kids' space as well as non-traditional, non-kids' companies. It has also introduced the concept of third-party licensing with the launch of Beyblade and now with the Theme Parks has added another first to its list.
Other banks can also now be expected to launch products targetting kids. Interestingly, earlier this month, UAE-based Union National Bank (UNB) launched a special, 'Al Fursan' account for young adults between 15 and 25.
The new account hopes to develop a sense of financial freedom and also encourage responsible saving and spending among children in this age group. Besides having their own Visa Electron cards, the account also has the facility for automatic monthly transfer from their parents' account.