Globes English – Google removes criticism of Leumi digital bank

Bank Leumi (TASE: LUMI) managed to erase over 700 negative reviews written over the weekend of its Pepper app in Google’s app store. On Saturday morning, there were still 850 bad reviews, which caused the app’s rating to plummet from 4 to 1. An assiduous campaign by all branches of the Leumi Group with Google Israel led to the removal of the bad reviews, which were defined as spam. Only 60 bad reviews were left, and the app’s original rating was restored.

Pepper is the Leumi group’s new digital bank, in which tens of millions of shekels was invested. In recent days, following a long quiet launching period, the launching campaign got underway, designed to support the measure under the slogan, “Don’t Call Me a Bank.” The strong and conspicuous campaign may be controversial, but it is indisputably one of the most prominent and well-funded campaigns in recent months.

The launch is designed to appeal to a young audience marked as a potential target for the new bank. It drew an immediate response from Advocate Barak Cohen, among the leaders of the “Baim Lebankaim” (Going to Bankers) protest group critical of Israeli banks. On his Facebook page, Cohen called on web surfers to send a direct message to bankers that would be costly to them in image and money.

Under the heading, “Together, We’ll Dismember Pepper in a Minute,” Cohen invited web surfers to enter the Android and iPhone apps stores, download the app, and give it a one-star rating, and then erase the app from their phones.

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According to Cohen, the Pepper launch campaign is misleading and false. “It is aimed at tempting young people to download a bank-application named Pepper, and this is exactly the time to deliver a message directly to the bankers – a message that will be costly to Bank Leumi – in money, but especially to its image. In less than a minute, you can make the Pepper app the most repulsive product,” he wrote.

It may have taken more than a minute, but within a few hours, hundreds of surfers entered the app stores, downloaded the app, and wrote negative reviews of it, thereby lowering its rating.

It is important to realize that where apps are concerned, a rating is no trivial matter. An app with a low rating will be relegated to the bottom of the shelf, which means that marketing it will cost more money, and even worse, web surfers will be in no hurry to download it, because the low rating ostensibly indicates that the product is no good.

At the same time, it should be kept in mind that something more than an anonymous app developer or a small company is involved. The fact that the Leumi group is involved, a large and influential economic concern, had an effect, and the complaint by Leumi group representatives, who contacted Google already on Saturday, was handled quickly.

The Google rating was almost as high as the original rating

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In addition to the fact that a large economic concern was involved, Google has its own interest in making sure that its platform is not open to manipulation by web surfers. When a mass of people performs the same action within a few hours, it is easy to figure out that the action was deliberately designed to inflict damage.

In order to download an app, it is necessary to log in, meaning that the web surfers can be identified, and it can be determined whether they downloaded the app, used it, and so forth.

The result was that by Saturday evening, the rating on Google was back at almost its original level. This measure was possible because Google has a strong branch in Israel with which action can be taken. Where Apple Computers, which has no offices in Israel, is concerned, the situation is more difficult. The Pepper app’s rating on Appstore was still a low 1.5 today. At the same time, it is likely that the Leumi group is taking action aimed at restoring the original rating in the coming hours.

Pepper said in response, “Pepper originated in the need of the banks’ customers to obtain a new innovative and advanced level of personal smart banking with no commissions. That is exactly the bank we built, and that is the reason why 10,000 users have opened an account in it since the launch, with hundreds more joining every day. We invite you to sit comfortably on your sofa at home, download Pepper, and send us an objective review that will enable us to continue improving.”

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Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News – – on July 9, 2017

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