During the financial crisis, EarnUp founder Matthew Cooper watched his parents struggle under the weight of their loans, as well as negotiating with lenders over payment details. Now that his parents are entering their retirement years owing more than they did in their prime working years, Cooper decided he had to do something about it. He created an app that helps people manage their debt and pay it down faster, making payments for them and displaying easy-to-read charts that show how much they’ll save over time by paying more than the minimum due. Several banks and nonprofit groups are using the app to help consumers manage their debt levels and ensure they are paid on time.
A lot of ideas are coming out of Silicon Valley to help consumers manage debt and investments, as well as save, some of them brought about with new insights into how psychology impacts our relationship to money. For Cooper, he found that he could generate more interest in his app if he used the word “earn” in advertising rather than the word “save,” as the nonprofit Common Cents Lab discovered doing research on consumer behavior.
This issue includes stories on great ideas such as Cooper’s, but also timeless ideas that have proven themselves. In one article, former Commerce Bancorp CEO Vernon Hill II has brought his ideas about retailing to Republic First Bancorp in Philadelphia, bringing back the concept of late hours, great customer service and dog-friendly stores.
And as a proven leader in innovation, USAA has taken the concept of brainstorming to a new level, crowdsourcing to ensure that more than 10,000 ideas per year are generated on behalf of the company.
And last but not least, this issue deals with one of the greatest transformative potentials in banking today: application programming interfaces. Banks are using APIs to make it easier to leverage the sizeable brainpower and innovation taking place outside the industry to benefit their clients, as well as maintain some control over security and branding.
Great ideas often start out as simple concepts, but they are not necessarily easy to implement. All of the examples are about people who have done the hard but satisfying work of getting their ideas to reality. I have been inspired by them as a way to make banking better, and I hope you are, too.