With digital financial experiences booming and young consumers flocking to app-focused banking, institutions are assessing which of their products and services will prove popular in the future and exploring how to ensure growth continues among a new demographic of consumers.
For the 65 million members of Generation Z in the U.S., “going to the bank” or “writing a check” are quickly becoming tasks from a bygone era. A 2021 survey underlined that 32% of these customers would prefer to do all their banking outside a physical branch, which presents banks with an opportunity for their digital products to take the lead.
If digital banking is the way of the future, why shouldn’t banks drop everything and go all-in? For most banks, that’s not feasible — or economically wise. It’s vital that banks understand the importance of solving problems while adding value for the customer. Former Apple co-founder CEO Steve Jobs explained, “when we created the iTunes music store, we did that because we thought it would be great to be able to buy music electronically, not because we had plans to redefine the music industry.” Solely focusing on innovation isn’t a practical strategy; the aim should be to make small bets that lead to big breakthroughs.
Most banks don’t need to adopt an “innovate or die” mindset toward the future to drive change. Not every bank will launch a groundbreaking app, and not every company can be Apple. Nor should there they be. Instead, leaders can look to micro-innovation: A scalable, stepwise growth model that supports agile technology integration and novel processes without a major overhaul to the bank’s core or existing infrastructure.
Flex and Expand the Core
A traditional full core conversion can take a bank five years or more to complete. The digital world won’t wait that long; it’s important that banks start implementing change now with micro-innovation. Rather than reinventing the essential processes that are working, micro-innovation allows institutions to launch services in a parallel run to test fresh ideas and offer new products. A micro-innovation approach allows core processes and revenue streams to remain intact while your institution welcomes the future.
Our partner, Holyoke, Massachusetts-based PeoplesBank, efficiently launched a compelling financial brand, ZYNLO, operating alongside its traditional offerings. The new digital bank is designed for younger customers and offers features to support financial health with tools like Zyng Roundup, Zyng matching and early access to paychecks. PeoplesBank is looking beyond the traditional realm of innovation and embrace new thinking by partnering with social media influencers to spread brand awareness and increase visibility.
Where to Begin?
The best incremental innovations are those that can be brought to market swiftly at an affordable cost. Consider leveraging your customer data to pluck low-hanging opportunities to serve groups of customers while providing valuable insights to improve their financial journey.
There’s an opportunity to start small by implementing a fresh onboarding experience. New customers are oriented to digital solutions; if it makes sense for your customers, consider building in-app account opening and educational tools to help them seamlessly engage with their financial future from their smartphone.
Get attention by testing out new product types and fine-tuning processes. Automatically rounding up transactions and deposit that change into savings, early access to paychecks with direct deposits, mobile-first initiatives and financial education tools like monthly spending reports are all popular among young consumers.
Ready to go further? By collaborating with a knowledgeable fintech partner, your institution can launch a own digital financial brand and deliver compelling hooks, such as invoice factoring, tax tools, credit builders and financial modeling, that better serve a niche group of individuals with shared financial needs and goals. Niche digital banks market to a wide range of geographically dispersed customers centered around identities (African Americans, LGBTQ), professions (doctors and lawyers), or shared life experiences and passions (individuals who have previously been incarcerated, pet owners, newly married couples).
In a time of economic uncertainty, organizations looking to win the moment should approach the future with a flexible and entrepreneurial mindset. Identify where your institutions wants to be, determine what’s required to get there and take the first steps in parallel to what’s already working. There’s no time like today.