The Importance of Financial Literacy During Uncertain Economic Times

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What does it mean to be financially literate? Is it more important to be able to balance a checkbook or to understand the power of compound interest? Does a financially literate person pay down student debt or consumer debt first? And does a truly financially literate person even take on debt in the first place?

A growing number of fintechs – many of them Finovate alums you’ll meet below – have devised innovative ways to help young people in particular, become better earners, savers, spenders, and investors. The majority of these innovations leverage rewards and gamification to make the educational medicine go down easier. These strategies use everything from gift cards to actual cash to encourage users to successfully complete lessons on personal finance or watch videos on common sense money management.

As companies, these fintechs partner with financial institutions – community banks and credit unions in particular – to help make their financial literacy offerings available to their customers and members. In some instances, companies have successfully partnered with educational institutions which have used their solutions as part of their financial education curricula.

April is financial literacy month. And as the coronavirus-induced economic slowdown – and potential recession – has everyone reconsidering the stability of their financial circumstances, now seems like an especially good time to be reminded of the importance of a solid – contemporary – financial education.

As recently as last fall, Finovate audiences were ranking financial literacy among the top of fintech’s most important themes. Zogo Finance, a Durham, North Carolina-based fintech that made its Finovate debut at FinovateFall, took home a Best of Show award for its Teen Financial Literacy app. Zogo’s solution pays users cash rewards – in the form of gift cards from leading brands – for successfully completing lessons on topics such as budgeting, credit, and investing.

The platform’s more than 300 educational modules were designed by educators at Duke University and ensure that users meet national standards for financial literacy. Zogo has teamed up with more than 11 community banks and credit unions in 12 states since its inception in 2018. The company began this year announcing a new partnership with fellow Finovate alum Bankjoy.

EVERFI, a Washington, D.C.-based company founded ten years before Zogo Finance, is another recent Finovate alum that has made a commitment to promoting financial literacy. The company powers community-oriented financial education for more than 850 financial institutions and 3,500+ partners in all 50 states of the U.S., as well as in Canada and Puerto Rico.

EVERFI, which offers workplace training and other educational programs as well as financial literacy, demonstrated its Achieve solution at FinovateSpring last year. The financial wellness technology enables financial institutions to offer personalized financial education to customers, employees, as well as to small business and corporate banking clients. From savings for college to navigating the homebuying process, EVERFI’s Achieve platform offers financial education that is as relevant as it is comprehensive.

Last fall, EVERFI announced a partnership with Zelle parent Early Warning Services to provide free financial education coursework to more than 1,000 high schools and 50,000+ students. The company began this year working with the MassMutual Foundation and the Washington Wizards NBA team to host the FutureSmart Challenge – an interactive financial literacy event for middle school students. Named to Fast Company’s 2020 World’s Most Innovative Companies roster, EVERFI unveiled a new financial education website earlier this month dedicated specifically to the financial challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

Plinqit is another platform that made its Finovate debut last year and combines being an actual savings app with financial literacy features. Developed by Ann Arbor, Michigan-based HT Mobile Apps (HTMA), Plinqit leverages its Build Skills feature to pay users for engaging with its educational content. Once users sync their Plinqit account with their bank or credit union checking account and set up as many as five savings goals, Plinqit will help the user set aside a pre-determined amount of money on a customized schedule. Users can earn Plinqit cashback rewards (of approximately 1%) by reaching savings goals, referring friends and family to Plinqit, or by viewing articles and videos on personal finance and financial wellness topics.

A partnership with Arkansas-based First Community Bank ($1.5 billion in assets) put Plinqit back in the fintech headlines at the beginning of the year. The 26-branch bank teamed up with Plinqit parent company HT Mobile Apps in order to provide HTMA’s savings and financial literacy solutions to its customers. More recently, HTMA brought its financial education solutions to ChoiceOne Bank and Marquette Savings Bank.

Provo, Utah-based Banzai is another fintech oriented around financial literacy that made a major splash in its FinovateFall debut in 2018. The company picked up a Best of Show award for a demonstration of its turn-key, Community Reinvestment Act-eligible solution to enable organizations to add personal finance-based educational content – including interactive online simulations – to their websites.

Partnerships with community banks and credit unions enable Banzai to offer its financial literacy solution free of charge. The company provides three tiered courses for youth – Junior, Teen, and Plus – to ensure that the information provided and real-world scenarios are age-relevant and appropriate. Banzai’s curriculum has been used by 60,000 teachers across the U.S. and can be accessed from desktops, tablets, and mobile devices, as well.

In launching a new financial education resource for adults last fall, Banzai Coach, the company made a significant addition to its financial literacy offerings. Banzai Coach provides adult users with financial advice and instruction on how to get out of debt, how to manage basic business finances, and how to maximize their tax-advantaged investments such as retirement accounts, health savings accounts (HSA), and flexible spending accounts (FSA).

“Kids in schools love knowing that their decisions in the game actually have an impact,” Banzai’s Bryce Peterson wrote on the company’s blog announcing the availability of Banzai Coach. “As adults, we have quite the opposite concern: just about every decision we make has some kind of impact we didn’t predict or control.”

Best of Show Winner Banzai Teams Up with GreenPath to Boost Financial Literacy

Promoting financial wellness among some of the economy’s most vulnerable participants is the goal of the new partnership between financial counseling and debt management nonprofit GreenPath and Finovate Best of Show winner Banzai. The collaboration, announced in June, will combine Banzai’s experience-based, personal finance learning solutions with GreenPath’s empathetic, nonjudgemental, one-on-one approach to debt counseling and helping consumer gain financial wellness.

“Lenders love GreenPath because they know they help people make positive, sustainable behavior changes that lead to improved credit and financial health,” Banzai’s Bryce Peterson wrote in a blog post discussing the news. “We are partnering with GreenPath so financial institutions can relieve the pressures experienced by many of their customers,” he said.

The two companies will also work together to present their respective platforms to potential financial institution customers.

A nonprofit organization founded in 1961, GreenPath has 500 employees in 40 locations who help individuals improve their financial awareness and skills, enabling them to make better financial decisions. The company leverages its relationship with creditors to help clients refinance their outstanding debts and secure lower, easier-to-afford, interest rates. Loan denial and delinquency services, CRA (Community Reinvestment Act) support, financial education workshops, and employer programs are among the services GreenPath offers financial institutions. The company currently facilitates debt management programs for 45,000 customers, and repaid more than $200 million on behalf of its clients last year alone.

Banzai demonstrated its turnkey, CRA eligible solution, combining educational content, interactive online simulations and topical resources at FinovateFall 2018. Winning Best of Show for its experience-based learning programs, Banzai has 750 bank and credit union partners, and 45,000 teachers using its technology.

Later this month, Banzai will unveil a pair of new products: Financial Wellness Center and the Coach. These solutions, in the words of company co-founder and CTO Kendall Buchanan, “(are) designed to encourage potential customers to share their goals … think deeply about their finances, and find answers to their stickiest financial questions.”

Founded in 2007, Banzai is headquartered in Provo, Utah. Morgan Vandagriff is co-founder and CEO.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Best of Show Winner Banzai Teams Up with GreenPath to Boost Financial Literacy.
  • Digital Onboarding to Boost Customer Engagement for Manatee Community FCU.
  • Finovate Global: Settle Launches Mobile App in Croatia; Sr. Pago Partners with American Express.

Around the web

  • Mastercard acquires global payments firm Transfast.
  • Chatbots.Studio partners with Digital Flex Solution to become their first technical partner and adviser. Check out Chatbots.Studio at FinovateFall in September!
  • CREALOGIX wins Best Wealth Management User Interface at the 2019 Systems in the City Financial Technology Awards.
  • Sports Business Daily interviews Everfi Head of Global Partnerships Jon Chapman.
  • HackerOne achieves ISO 27001 certification.
  • Gartner’s 2019 Market Guide for In-App Protection recognizes Jscrambler for its client-side security technology.
  • Ping Identity earns Best Identity Management Solution honors at the 2019 SC Awards Europe.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

FinovateFall 2018 Best of Show Winners Announced

Meet the Fantastic Five – the top vote-getters in this year’s Best of Show voting at FinovateFall 2018.

There’s a lot to love about the companies that took home top honors at this year’s autumn event. Maybe you are a fan of financial literacy, and believe that the best way to ensure a happy financial future is to invest in financial education at an early age. Perhaps you are looking for ways to better engage the customers at your bank or credit union, providing them with more personalized, intuitive solutions to improve their financial lives.

From the challenge of helping aging parents manage their finances and avoid scams to innovative strategies to turn everyday purchases into investments in the stock market, the Best of Show winners of FinovateFall 2018 are a diverse group. And that diversity reflects the fascinating breadth of what it means to be a fintech company today.

With that, let’s meet our Fantastic Five. Four of them are Finovate newcomers and the fifth, Meniga, is both a long time alum and multiple Best of Show award winner.

Banzai for its industry-leading, turnkey, CRA eligible, experience-based learning solutions that help users master personal finance. Video.

 

Bond.AI for its human-centered AI platform, powered by the world’s first “Empathy Engine,” that helps banks better understand user behavior and encourage them to improve their financial health. Video.

 

Bumped for its technology that enables brands to give their customers free stock for their purchases, turning loyal shoppers and spenders into shareholders. Video.

 

Golden for its Financial Caregiving app and website that socializes wealth and daily money management across generations, helping 75 million baby boomers who are taking financial care of their 50 million senior parents. Video.

 

Meniga for its white-label, digital banking solutions that enable banks to build customer engagement and help customers improve their financial lives. Video.


Notes on methodology:
1. Only audience members NOT associated with demoing companies were eligible to vote. Finovate employees did not vote.
2. Attendees were encouraged to note their favorites during each day. At the end of the last demo, they chose their three favorites.
3. The exact written instructions given to attendees: “Please rate (the companies) on the basis of demo quality and potential impact of the innovation demoed.”
4. The five companies appearing on the highest percentage of submitted ballots were named “Best of Show.”
5. Go here for a list of previous Best of Show winners through 2014. Best of Show winners from our 2015 through 2018 conferences are below:
FinovateEurope 2015
FinovateSpring 2015
FinovateFall 2015
FinovateEurope 2016
FinovateSpring 2016
FinovateFall 2016
FinovateAsia 2016
FinovateEurope 2017
FinovateSpring 2017
FinovateFall 2017
FinovateAsia 2017
FinovateMiddleEast 2018
FinovateEurope 2018
FinovateSpring 2018

 

FinovateFall Sneak Peek: Banzai

A look at the companies demoing live at FinovateFall on September 24 through 26, 2018 in New York. Register today and save your spot.

Banzai is a national brand with over 50% of U.S. high schools and millions of students educated. More than 750 banks trust Banzai to educate adult customers, schools, and communities, and change lives.

Features

  • Motivate and retain employees by defining your culture
  • Drive ROI and growth by providing real value to your account holders and community
  • Earn CRA credit and make a huge impact to change lives

Why it’s great

The U.S. Department of Treasury is focused on hands-on experience-based learning. Banzai is your experience-based learning solution.

Presenter

Landon Glenn, President of Business Development
Glenn oversees business development, orchestrates industry partnerships, and is instrumental in Banzai’s strategic product decisions. He has spent his career helping individuals live debt-free.
LinkedIn

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Hydrogen, TD Bank Partnership Drives DIY Financial Planning.

Around the web

  • Hackney London Borough Council leverages technology from OutSystems to enhance its digital services.
  • NCR inks partnerships with a trio of credit unions: Parsons FCU of California, Educators Credit Union of Texas, and AERO FCU of Arizona.
  • Anorak to provide life insurance advice to users of money management app, Yolt.
  • SaleMove wins top honors at Orion Advisor Services’ Ascent/FUSE 2018 conference. See SaleMove at FinovateFall in New York September 24-26.
  • Varo Money to deploy Temenos’ T24  core banking platform.
  • Digital lending platform Roostify announces its app is now available on the Salesforce AppExchange.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.