Fintech Apps Need These 5 Mobile Features to Attract Gen Z Users

Fintech Apps Need These 5 Mobile Features to Attract Gen Z Users

The following is written by Lance Boyer, a recent college graduate and a Gen Z journalist.

Generation Z made up about 40% of active U.S. consumers in 2020, according to Fast Company. It also has more buying power than any of the Generation X, Boomer, or Silent generations. And it’s growing rapidly.

Generation Z is better off than the Millennial generation too. “Core” Millennials graduated high school and college into one of the worst economies in living memory. Despite the pandemic recession, Generation Z’s job and earning prospects have improved.

Financial technology providers can’t ignore Gen Z any longer. If you’re in the business of making budgeting, banking, and investing accessible to mobile users in the United States, you need to tailor your offerings to Gen Z — and now, not in 10 years.

That means designing your mobile app with younger users in mind. Here’s where to start.

5 Key Mobile Features for Gen Z Users

If you plan to market your mobile fintech app to Gen Z users, ensure it includes these five features.

1. A Unified View of User Finances

Most of the best personal finance apps have something in common: they give users a unified view of their finances inside and outside the app.

Your app shouldn’t only show balance and transaction information for accounts accessible directly through the app (if any). It should also display real-time or near real-time data from securely linked external accounts. It’s ultimately the user’s choice to link or not link these accounts, but your app should create as little friction as possible in that decision.

This adds a layer of development complexity for apps with money management functionality, as opposed to “simpler” budgeting apps that should link to external accounts. But it’s well worth the added investment and will increasingly become essential as the lines between banking and budgeting apps blur.

2. Social Sharing Capabilities

And not just standard Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat integrations. That’s old news.

Your app needs to make it easy — and fun and worthwhile — for users to generate their own content within the interface. Venmo does this simply but very well by allowing users to make transaction details public. Find an equal balance between privacy and disclosure in your product.

3. Stringent Privacy Controls (Beyond What’s Required by Law)

Your fintech app should have stringent privacy controls above and beyond what’s required by applicable law.

Your app shouldn’t make “low privacy” the default, and certainly not because you’re banking on monetizing your users’ data. That data is valuable, but you should come by it honestly. Gen Z is much more digital savvy than older generations and knows “if you’re not paying, you’re the product.”

You can undoubtedly incentivize users to share more with a freemium model or rewards for more sharing if you make it clear that you have users’ interests at heart.

4. Flexible Subscription Options

The more control you give your users over how and when they pay for your product, the more trust you’ll earn and the more you’ll make from them in the long run.

Don’t overcomplicate your payment options. Too many choices paralyze the user. Simple, straightforward payment verticals — one for pay as you go, one for pay for what you use, one for annual or quarterly subscriptions, and so on — are the way to go.

5. On-Call Support

The misconception that Gen Z doesn’t like talking to real humans must go away. Sure, the average Gen Z’er isn’t apt to chat on the phone for hours, but if you consider texting a form of talking — and it is — then Gen Z is just as chatty as its predecessors.

Maybe, more importantly, Gen Z is happier to be micromanaged than its predecessors. The average Gen Z’er seeks positive reinforcement and isn’t afraid to ask questions.

Lean into these preferences by investing in on-call support for your fintech app. This is a big ask for smaller enterprises, so it’s OK to charge for this service as long as it’s optional. Albert’s Genius function is a great example. It’s a built-in financial sherpa operating on a pay-what-you-want model, starting at a few dollars per month.

Final Thoughts

Generation Z makes up a larger percentage of active U.S. consumers than the Millennial generation, and it’s about to have more buying power. Its oldest members are already aging into the coveted 25-to-54 age demographic.

If your fintech app isn’t tailored to Gen Z’s preferences, you’re already behind the curve.

Fortunately, your development team doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel to appeal to Generation Z. Including five key value propositions does the trick:

  • A single-dashboard view of user finances — both in the app and in external linked accounts
  • Seamless social sharing capabilities and user-generated content tools
  • Stringent privacy controls that keep users in the driver’s seat
  • Flexible payment options rather than one-size-fits-all subscription or flat-fee models
  • On-call human support, whether free or paid

These “big five” are just the start. You’ll likely find your younger users demanding additional features and functions. But the big five are non-negotiable. The sooner you work on them, the better.

Photo by cottonbro studio

Celebrating International Women’s Day: Time to #BreakTheBias in Fintech

Celebrating International Women’s Day: Time to #BreakTheBias in Fintech

The following is a guest post from Annette Evans, VP of People and Culture, Global Processing Services

This month we at GPS are joining the #BreakTheBias campaign for International Women’s Day 2022 and adding our voice to encourage the fintech community to actively speak up about gender bias in the workplace and outside of it.

Assessing the current status of the fintech industry – given that progressive mind-sets and innovation are the lifeblood of our sector – you may assume fintechs would be pioneers of gender diversity.

Whilst progress is certainly being made, the reality is our sector still has a long way to go.

As the GPS-sponsored Diversity for Growth Report in partnership with Findexable uncovered recently, the representation of women in fintech is not as diverse as one might expect.

Two data points stood out to me in our survey. Firstly, there is a consensus that a lack of gender balance means men’s ideas dominate across every stage of the fintech value chain. Secondly, rapidly scaling companies are struggling to balance diversity commitments with the challenges of building teams in new regions at scale and speed.

On the positive side, fintech firms appear to unanimously agree that a commitment to being fully inclusive makes business sense. They understand that well-managed diverse groups outperform homogenous ones as diversity leads to a higher collective intelligence, better decision-making, and accelerated innovation.

Many also understand that it makes commercial sense as having more women in technical positions leads to more customers because it means creating products which are tailored with women in mind. Women understand how women think and what they need.

It seems strange, therefore, that there is still a gender diversity issue in fintech.

When I speak to leaders across our fast-growing global GPS ecosystem of fintechs, schemes, and banks, I nearly always hear the same thing. The bench of candidates being presented for senior or critical technical roles is rarely diverse, limiting hiring choices.

But recognizing this issue does not solve it. It simply pushes the challenge back to recruiters to try and resolve.

The challenge recruiters face is that the pool of fintech talent we are all recruiting from, whilst growing, is still small compared to other sectors.

We all continue to recruit from the same talent pool, which is problematic, not just from a gender diversity perspective but also for diversity as a whole in all its guises.

This is where I say we all need to apply the #BreakTheBias lens. For recruiters to be successful in providing a more diverse range of talent, leaders need to be more open-minded about where the talent may come from.

Change is happening, but real change takes time. Whilst diverse talent is entering the talent pool at the entry level, it will take time for them to gain their experience and work their way up to bring diversity to more senior levels.

In the immediate term, companies need to review their business culture and ask potentially tough questions around why so few women choose to work for their company. Do you create an environment where talent in all guises can shine? Or does it unconsciously favor those who already fit the mold? If someone thinks or acts differently, how are they treated? Businesses who fail to ask these questions risk losing out.

It is only by shining a mirror on ourselves that we can discover the knowledge we need to take action to try and address diversity challenges. We have to listen to be given the opportunity to change. Change can take a long time, but it will take even longer if it is delayed, ignored, or hidden.

As the organizers of this year’s International Women’s Day state, knowing that bias exists is not enough. Action is needed to level the playing field. Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day.

Photo by Monstera from Pexels

How Fintechs Can Use Smart Data Fabrics to Achieve Record Growth

How Fintechs Can Use Smart Data Fabrics to Achieve Record Growth

This is a sponsored post, by Michael Hom, Head of Financial Services Solutions, InterSystems. InterSystems are Gold Sponsors of the upcoming FinovateEurope in London, March 22-23.

Last year was a record breaking for the global fintech sector, with investment reaching $102 billion – an annual increase of 183%. This growth was in large part spurred on by the pandemic which brought about major changes in consumer banking and spending habits, with eight in 10 people in the U.K. alone now using fintech products for banking and payments. At the same time, demand for fintech is also growing due to increased digitization among incumbent banks as these institutions try to keep pace with evolving customer demand for digital services and applications.

However, despite this growth, fintechs, much like more traditional financial services institutions, face a range of technical challenges which if not addressed could stall their progress. This was evidenced in recent research from InterSystems, which found that a staggering 81% of fintechs globally see data issues as their biggest technical challenge. Therefore, with data vital to everything from making informed decisions to delivering personalized services, addressing these challenges needs to be a priority for fintechs if they are to sustain the momentum of 2021.

The implications of fintechs’ data struggles

The data challenges being faced by fintechs fall under two distinct issues. Firstly, 41% of fintechs globally say they are unable to leverage data for analytics, machine learning (ML), and artificial intelligence (AI), while 40% of fintechs experience difficulties in connecting to customers’ applications and data systems. This indicates that not only are fintechs often unable to use their data effectively, but also they are struggling with data silos and integration.

These issues can have implications for fintechs such as hindering their ability to make informed decisions about the types of products and services they should be offering customers, and how they can continue to innovate to meet evolving customer needs. Additionally, for B2B fintechs in particular, integration challenges will make it more difficult to sell their applications to enterprise customers who need solutions that fit seamlessly within their existing infrastructure and that allow them to obtain the much-needed flow of bidirectional data.

On top of this, the data challenges cited by fintechs could hinder their ability to comply with financial regulations. Not only is this a concern from a regulatory standpoint, but it also may put the 93% of fintechs that hope to unlock the opportunities of partnering with incumbent banks at a disadvantage. After all, security and regulatory compliance are essential for banks and are key considerations when making decisions about which fintechs and firms to work with.

Time for a change of data architecture

Consequently, to build on the growth they have experienced over the last year and to be in the best position to capitalize on lucrative relationships with incumbent banks, fintechs globally must begin to address the problems with their data management. The starting point must be to find a way to bridge data silos and make integration easier.

Within the wider financial services sector, traditional firms, such as JPMorgan, Citi, and Goldman Sachs, are turning to data fabrics to solve these data challenges and provide a consistent, accurate, real-time view of data assets. A new architectural approach, data fabrics access, transform, and harmonize data from multiple sources on demand. By weaving together different data sets, from both within and outside the organization, and providing easy and uniform access to data, a smart data fabric can help fintechs to generate insights that can be used to get to know their customers better and gain complete visibility to accelerate business innovation.

This type of data architecture will also allow fintechs to create a bidirectional gateway between their applications and their enterprise customers’ production applications, legacy systems, and data silos. This approach will help those fintechs to ensure that their solutions can be quickly and easily integrated within their customers’ existing environments, which is particularly beneficial for fintechs looking to collaborate with banks.

‘Smart’ or enterprise data fabrics elevate this approach further by embedding a wide range of analytics capabilities, including data exploration, business intelligence, natural language processing, and ML directly within the fabric. This makes it faster and easier for organizations to gain new insights and power intelligent predictive and prescriptive services and applications.

As such, smart data fabrics address both the data integration challenges facing fintechs and their currently inability to use data with more advanced technologies such as AI and ML to extract valuable insights. As smart data fabrics allow existing legacy applications and data to remain in place, thereby removing the need to “rip-and-replace” any of their existing technology, this approach also enables fintechs to maximize their previous technology investments.

With so much potential within the global fintech sector, implementing a smart data fabric will allow fintechs to address their most pressing data challenges. They will have the ability to make more informed decisions based on accurate information and insights, deliver the products and services their customers need, and collaborate with other institutions. Ultimately, this will ensure fintechs are in the best possible position to make 2022 an even more successful year than the last.

Photo by Min An from Pexels

4 Consumer Risk Modeling Innovations That Could Change Credit Scoring Forever

4 Consumer Risk Modeling Innovations That Could Change Credit Scoring Forever

The following is a guest post by Todd Thomas, who has been in financial services for more than 20 years.

According to data from the Urban Institute, the median FICO credit score for Hispanic consumers is about 75 points lower than the median white consumer’s. The median credit score for Black consumers is more than 100 points lower than the median white consumer’s. And the approximately 10% of American adults without usable credit files are disproportionately people of color.

These racial, demographic, and geographic disparities are rooted in “historical inequities that reduced wealth and limited economic choices for communities of color,” according to the Urban Institute. It notes that subprime borrowers can pay $3,000 more in interest and fees on a $10,000 car loan over four years.

This unequal status quo has advocates calling for a more objective approach to consumer risk modeling. Innovators have created new technologies and data sources that could do just that.

The following four consumer risk modeling innovations are poised to disrupt the current credit scoring regime to varying degrees. Collectively, they could change the concept beyond recognition and eventually render obsolete what we think of today as “credit scoring.”

1. Forward-Looking Changes to Current Scoring Models

The most recent changes to the FICO scoring model, collectively known as FICO 10 and FICO 10T, are iterative rather than transformational updates. In other words, they don’t radically alter the calculation of credit scores.

But FICO 10 and 10T hint at the direction traditional credit scoring models are moving — and what they might have to do to remain relevant in the future as more disruptive innovations take hold.

FICO 10 and 10T pay closer attention to consumers’ credit mix in the context of their overall debt loads. Specifically, they penalize consumers who take out new personal loans to consolidate existing debts, then continue racking up debt on those current trades (most often, credit cards).

Essentially, they aim to reward good credit behavior(paying down debt) and discourage risky habits (living beyond one’s means).

2. Cash Flow Modeling

Another recent FICO update attacks credit scoring discrepancies more directly. The UltraFICO score — a joint venture between Fair Isaac Corporation, Experian, and Finicity — pulls in noncredit data to provide a more accurate and fair picture of consumers’ credit risk. Cash flow monitoring includes cash flow in a bank account and payment history.

By incorporating banking information, such as account balances and account age, UltraFICO supports credit scoring for about 15 million people who don’t have enough credit history to have traditional credit scores. Unfortunately, those people are disproportionately lower-income and POC — those most likely to be left behind by the credit scoring status quo.

UltraFICO is an example of cash flow modeling. Long used by business lenders, cash flow modeling is working its way into the consumer credit mainstream thanks to adoption by fintech lenders like Accion, Brigit, and Petal.

According to an analysis by FinRegLab, “the predictiveness of the cash flow scores and attributes was generally at least as strong as the traditional credit scores and credit bureau attributes,” suggesting it’s a reliable complement to or replacement for traditional scoring. And cash flow modeling is more equitable than conventional scoring, according to FinRegLab’s data.

3. International Credit Scoring and Risk Modeling

The current credit scoring regime also explicitly discriminates based on nationality. Non-U.S. nationals who come to the United States don’t have the requisite credit history to qualify for FICO scores. They’re essentially invisible to lenders that rely on FICO scores to make lending decisions.

Fortunately, border-based barriers to international credit scoring are already crumbling, thanks to global consumer credit risk models like Nova Credit. As more U.S. lenders begin to trust and adopt these models, new arrivals to the U.S. and Americans relocating abroad could find it easier to obtain credit without traditional country-specific credit scores.

4. A Post-Credit-Score World

Finally, noncredit and not-only-credit scoring models like FICO XD hint at what’s possible in a truly “post-credit-score” world.

FICO XD does not rely entirely — or even principally — on credit bureau information. The model pulls data from property records, leasing databases, and noncredit contracts like utility agreements to develop a comprehensive picture of a consumer’s likelihood of default.

According to Fair Isaac Corporation, FICO XD can produce FICO scores for up to 70% of previously unscorable consumers, including many historically disadvantaged demographic groups.

Final Thoughts

This is an exciting time for consumer risk modeling. From incremental changes to existing models (FICO 10, UltraFICO) to more radical shifts (cash flow modeling, FICO XD) that could supplant credit scoring entirely, we’re seeing a wave of innovation unlike any since the early days of modern underwriting.

These innovations can reduce long-standing credit scoring disparities and produce more accurate consumer credit risk models. But they offer no guarantees. Their actual impact on consumer finance will depend on who wields them and how.

Todd Thomas has been in financial services for more than 20 years.

Photo by Dylan Gillis on Unsplash

How Procurement Automation Can Help Banking and Financial Services

How Procurement Automation Can Help Banking and Financial Services

The following is a guest post from Mohammed Kafil, Senior Product Manager, Kissflow.

The banking and financial services industry is severely affected by the global financial crises. They are in a state of flux due to regulatory confinements and the market’s increasing demands. For the past few years, the banking and financial services sector has been under intense pressure to meet market expectations while complying with strict regulations. This pressure is expected to increase in the foreseeable future. Banks and financial institutions must adopt new strategies to sustain and compete in this environment. Automation is an inevitable change that banks and financial institutions must adapt to sustain.

Leading banks and financial institutions are growing sustainably even in this environment by reducing costs, managing risk, and achieving transparency through procurement automation. Read on to understand why procurement automation is necessary for banks and financial institutions.

The Need for Procurement Automation

Procurement is the process of sourcing or buying goods or services for a business. Procurement automation is the process of automating the periodic steps involved in the procurement process. It automates significant procurement stages such as digital purchase and requisition forms, routing to suppliers and approvers, record-keeping of purchases, and the labor-intensive tasks of procurement, saving valuable time for the procurement team.

Benefits of procurement automation in banking and financial services

Improved visibility

Since the financial crisis, the banking industry has been scrutinized more closely by the public. The corporate spending habits of banks have piqued the curiosity of the media. As a result, the need for transparency, traceability, and compliance in a bank’s procurement operations has never been more critical. Increased regulatory pressure from governments and administrative agencies has also prompted the sector to adapt. Many banks are now taking concrete steps to better integrate risk management, compliance, and purchasing ethics into their culture.

Using procurement systems that support this process is the most effective way to assure visibility and compliance in purchasing activities. Banks can limit the approval levels of purchase managers by implementing end-to-end procurement technology solutions, ensuring that spend commitments closely reflect their procurement strategy. From managing approvals to reporting and spend tracking, procurement automation solves all these challenges and acts as a single source of truth to the organization.

Reduced costs

Banks are primarily service-based corporations. The great majority of their spend (approximately 40%) goes to management consultants and temporary workers in the professional services category. The next two largest spend areas, information technology and facilities management, each contribute to nearly 20% of the overall spending. For a service-based industry like banking, spending on services has historically been more difficult to assess, comprehend, and manage than spending on products. Leading banks, on the other hand, are successfully tackling these issues by automating their procurement processes.

Through automation, buyers can acquire a granular grasp of exactly what they are getting and what degree of service they can expect from the purchase by producing more detailed, automated rate cards. Further, the cost spent on employee expenditures can be significantly saved, as it accounts for 64 percent of a bank’s total costs, according to the banking sector spend report.

Risk mitigation & enhanced supplier collaboration

Implementing the appropriate technologies is critical not just for centralizing procurement policies and processes, but also for risk management. Due to the necessity to assure regulatory compliance, supplier performance, and risk mitigation have become significantly more important. Because of the high level of regulation in the financial services industry, procurement is under pressure to reduce risk from executive teams and other business stakeholders, who are more involved in supplier management than in other industries.

Even for companies with fully dedicated risk-management teams, gaining insight and control over supplier and third-party risk can be difficult. Financial services firms can use procurement technology to gain visibility into supplier operations and risk, allowing them to develop a complete picture of what’s going on in the supply chain. These technologies have collaborative data management features that allow internal stakeholders to gather and centralize supplier data from around the organization and share insights with senior management.

It also gives vendors access to a platform where they may post and update data. This contains certification information, financial disclosures, remittance and contract details, products, services, and other data required for risk factor calculations. With all of this data in one location, financial services companies can track and manage risk more effectively throughout the supply chain.

Banks and the financial services industry benefit greatly from procurement automation. Despite an increasingly turbulent and competitive sector, it guarantees that organizations remain competitive by managing compliance, addressing risk, and maximizing profit.

Mohammed Kafil is a certified procurement consultant who has been coaching companies to establish resilient digital procurement operating models for over a decade now. With Kissflow Procurement Cloud, a flexible procurement software that streamlines end-to-end procure-to-pay, and also eventually the vendor management process, Kafil helps medium and large enterprises with their digital transformation projects.

Look to Asia for Fintech Trends in 2021-2022

Look to Asia for Fintech Trends in 2021-2022

This is a guest post from Adam Goulston, copywriter, editor, marketer, and researcher with Scize Group.

Asia is the global leader in fintech, according to a survey of 27,000+ digitally active consumers in 27 markets. And in Asia, China and India are big leaders – over half their active adult consumers use fintech services regularly. Asia sets the pace and it’s not slowing down.

In 2019, digital financial services earned $11 billion in Southeast Asia. That’s expected to grow to over $38 billion, or 11% of all financial services revenue, by 2025. Demand for fintech solutions is stronger than ever, so 2021 and 2022 are key years for retaining relevance and for new innovation.

Major trending areas include automated finance, mobile payment and, of course, blockchain. And not everything’s about machines – Asia’s huge workforce will play a major role.

Digital payment solutions

The COVID-19 pandemic pushed companies to improve automated services. In China, Alipay rolled out digital tools to support local businesses in Wuhan. This helped revive the city after the strict lockdown.

Malaysia offered WeChat Pay in 2020. It’s the first country outside China to use WeChat in the local currency. Local banks like Hong Leong Bank and Maybank were quick to link up. WeChat could expand this model elsewhere.

In Hong Kong, ZA Bank Ltd was the first virtual bank to launch a digital-only banking service. It offered a 6% opening rate on all deposits.

Meanwhil Japan, slower in shifting to cashless transactions, saw app-based payments finally go mainstream in 2020. Options include Rakuten Pay, LINE Pay, and PayPay backed by the SoftBank Group. The country was overwhelmingly cash-based just 2 years ago.

Vietnam has seen the most growth with mobile payment users increasing by 24% in the past year. The adoption rate in Thailand was 67%. China still leads, with 86% using smartphones for payments.

There are at least 150 e-wallet providers in Southeast Asia alone. Most of these apps are run by tech giants like Grab, Tencent Holdings, Singapore Telecom, and AirAsia.

More open banking solutions

The pandemic also sped up adoption of fintech banking apps and solutions, as in-person banking was often limited or unavailable. Online banking advanced. The trend has spread to investment, as seen with the Singapore Exchange (SGX).

Singapore Financial Data Exchange answered by launching the world’s first public–private open banking solution. Singaporeans could now keep track of their finances in one simple platform.

Other Asian countries are also working to build open banking structures. DBS Hong Kong introduced digital banking to provide easy access and less paperwork for SMEs.

Better financial literacy and inclusion

The World Bank notes financial inclusion is a good way to reduce poverty and improve economies. Industry’s role as a financial leader is important in poorly developed and emerging markets.

South Asia has some of the world’s lowest levels of financial literacy, but Asian fintech startups are seeking to change this and increase financial inclusion. They include Julo (Indonesia), ZigWay (Myanmar), and Wing (Cambodia). They’ve designed easy-to-understand games and products to help consumers learn how to spend, save, and invest better.

Regarding financial inclusion, Jeff is an app providing loan services in Vietnam. The app aims to open lending services to people likely to be rejected by traditional banks.

Growth of blockchain and cryptocurrency

Look to Asia for the future of blockchain and cryptocurrency. NASDAQ reports more than 31% of all cryptocurrency transactions from mid-2019 to mid-2020 were in East Asia.

Asia is a crypto mining hub, with 65% of the global Bitcoin hashrate centered in China. The South Korean market has high use of altcoin, with over 30% of convenience stores already accepting digital money. There are also large crypto exchanges in Asia trading at nearly four times higher volume than North American exchanges.

In the Philippines, the mobile game Axie Infinity is creating a way out of poverty. Created by a Vietnamese startup, it features a farming simulation. It uses Ethereum Blockchain as its currency, which helps players learn about the currency, and how to manage their finances.

Shifting employment trends

COVID-19 spurred many businesses to digitize, which shifted employment trends. In Singapore, software engineers are in high demand and experiencing net job growth. There’s higher demand for skilled fintech talent in Hong Kong as well.

Other countries are also in search of tech talent. According to CXC Global, businesses in Thailand, Japan, and Hong Kong are searching for staff in data sciences and online communications.  

Companies, however, aren’t rushing to replace employees – 37% of companies in Asia Pacific are making sure staff are onboard with changes, and RPA responsibilities are defined.

Asia fintech isn’t slowing down

Fintech adoption continues to expand in Asia as it becomes part of everyday life, irrespective of economic status. The fintech market in APAC is expected to grow at 72.5% annually through 2025, continually showing dynamic growth and adaptation, moving at speeds Western countries may not match.

Adam Goulston, MS, MBA, is a U.S.-born, Asia-based content marketer and copywriter. His Japan-registered company Scize helps globally sighted business and organizations communicate their value in universally clear language.

Three Strategies for Transitioning Customers to Digital Bill Payments

Three Strategies for Transitioning Customers to Digital Bill Payments

This is a guest post by John Minor, SVP of Product and Support at PayNearMe.

Pay by check? Yes, that’s still a thing. In fact, nearly a quarter of consumers (22%) pay their monthly utility bill and 9% make monthly mortgage payments by mailing a check or money order to the biller, according to a recent bill payment study by PayNearMe.

Traditional, non-digital forms of bill payment can be expensive. The labor cost to have employees available to accept cash or check payments and then manually count, sort, reconcile, and deposit these payments throughout the day is reason enough for businesses to encourage customers to adopt digital bill payments.

However, eliminating these familiar payment types and transitioning customers to electronic payments can be challenging. Here are three strategies to try:

Put electronic bill pay options front and center

At every opportunity, put digital pay options in front of your customers — on billing statements, through customer service representatives, via emails, on your website, and through push notifications.

For example, savvy billers are now generating personalized QR codes for customers that can be printed on paper billing statements. Customers then can pay their bill by scanning the code and choosing their preferred method of payment without having to log into their account. It’s frictionless, fast, and encourages your customers to pay their bills electronically.

Offer mobile payments

Mobile payments are nearly ubiquitous. The majority of Americans (74%) use their phone to order and pay for food and merchandise at least once a week, and nearly 1 in 3 Americans (29%) would like to pay with their smartphones all the time.

This same consumer behavior translates to the way they expect to pay their bills. In fact, according to this bill payment study, Americans are likely to pay their bills using one of the following forms of mobile payment, if they have the option:

  • 26% — likely to pay bills via text message on their mobile phone
  • 32% — likely to pay bills by scanning a QR code on their bill and paying using their mobile phone
  • 37% — likely to pay bills using their mobile wallet (Apple Pay / Google Pay)

The data is clear: your customers want to pay with their mobile devices. To accommodate them, look for a payment platform that enables your business to accept multiple forms of payment, including Apple Pay and Google Pay.

Enlist your customer service staff

Every time traditional bill payers pick up the phone to make a payment or drop by the office to pay in person, the customer service agent has an opportunity to promote digital bill payment options. The agent can ask questions like:

  • “Have you considered paying your loan through our electronic payment system? Let me tell you why it is such a convenient option!”
  • “Can I email or text you a link so you can enter your payment information directly?”
  • “Would you like me to assist you in signing up for autopay to make your monthly payment easier?”

These one-on-one conversations can help get customers over the initial learning curve and help those who are hesitant feel more confident in making the switch from traditional to digital payments.

The majority of consumers (69%) prefer digital payment channels to paying bills by mail, phone, or in-person. But, getting set up on electronic payments has to be easy. Your customers don’t want to deal with lengthy forms, frustrating sign up processes, or having to provide payment details every month. Instead, use techniques like embedding personalized payment links or QR codes in billing statements and reminder messages so your customers can simply click a link or scan a code to go directly to their payment screen.

Transitioning your customers to digital bill payment will save your company time and money while affording your customers greater freedom and flexibility. It’s worth the effort.

John Minor is SVP of Product and Support for PayNearMe, leading the product, merchant services and support teams. By combining industry research with client and partner feedback, he ensures that PayNearMe’s solutions continue to lead the market in terms of mobile readiness, ease of use, and advanced bill pay and collection techniques.

Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions on Unsplash

How Can We Tap Into the Female Financial Market?

How Can We Tap Into the Female Financial Market?

This is a guest post written by Dr. Anette Broløs of Broløs Consult and Dr. Erin B. Taylor of Finthropology.

Finances have long been considered a man’s domain. Women’s economic power is, however, growing along with growing equality in education, changing family patterns, and more focus on gender diversity.

With growing economic power, the market potential to serve women with suitable financial solutions is growing, too. During the last 5 to 10 years, there has been rapid growth in the number of organizations offering female-focused financial services. Yet Oliver Wyman estimates that companies are missing out on $700 billion in profit by not catering to the female market.[1]

What can we do to tap into the female financial market?

This question is at the center of two reports we published in the last year asking why women might need or want their own financial services.[2] How does women’s behaviour differ from that of men? What kinds of features might women need in financial services that are different to those for everyone? And is there anything special about serving women, or is it just part of the broader trend towards developing client-centric solutions?

Figure 1: What goes into designing financial services for women?

In the first report, Female Finance: Digital, Mobile, Networked (2020), we explored solutions for women in-depth and presented an analysis of what makes financial solutions ‘female.’ In the second report we studied the characteristics of 102 organizations offering financial services to women, comparing them with external statistics and reports.

We found that there are– at least for now– definite differences between what men and women look for in financial services. In Figure 1 we provide an overview of what makes a product or service targeted at women: looking at design, features, values, and delivery.

We also found that many providers offer “traditional” services (savings, investment, credit, etc.) embedded in other services such as advice, impact solutions, education, mentorship, and networks. Women seem to value these integrated services more than men because they provide a more personal and social approach to finances. Interestingly, there are an increasing number of networks, associations, and NGOs that offer services like learning and networks without actually offering traditional financial services— a new development in the market.

The values of companies that focus on women are also different from those catering to a broader market. The latter tend to focus on “value for money,” whereas the female-focused organizations focus on culture, empowerment, creativity, and freedom.

And so, providing female-focused financial services isn’t just about improving messaging or offering ‘wrap around’ services on existing offers. The majority of organizations that we studied designed their services for women from the outset, and many of them were founded— and led— by women. Many founders come with a solid background in financial services.

So, what can fintechs and incumbent financial service providers do to tap into this important market?

We find that two elements are at the core of successfully reaching this market. [3] The most important is to develop a holistic understanding of customer needs. Women look for assistance to achieve financial health and wellbeing for themselves and their families, and so they prefer solutions that fit into their real life, rather than just considering factors like risk and return.

This means, for example, that investment services for women should not only focus on helping them get the highest profit possible, but also on investing in education, a better life, and security for women and their families.

Offering services to women also means going beyond questions of financial literacy. Good financial services for women will help them to gain control over economic decisions in both the short and long term.

Another important element to understand is how digital solutions can support the provision of holistic services. Women are avid users of integrated, easy-to-access solutions.

A good place to start is to invest in better understanding the female market and its characteristics. This may be assisted by connecting with other organizations to share best practices and create co-learning opportunities.[4]

Another important focal point is the generation of reliable data and insights. To assist with this, companies can collect sex-disaggregated data on customers to shed insights into gender differences in product and service use. They can also take the time to research female customers’ behaviour and user experience, including their life contexts, needs, and preferences.

Companies can adapt the innovation and development process to be more customer-focused and less technology-driven. They can introduce customer knowledge into innovation and put co-creation at the centre of the process.

We encourage organizations to develop holistic value propositions that integrate financial offerings into everyday activities, as well as personal networks and communities. As part of this, they can communicate with women in ways that speak to their life contexts, and which are inclusive rather than exclusive.

When developing services for women it is also important to have an appropriately diverse team to research and design them. Companies can work on internal organizational diversity, including capitalizing on team diversity to reduce the risk of unconscious biases entering into service design. This may be assisted by partnering with fintechs that are already
experienced in providing services for women.

This is a simple enough recipe that also fits the general trend towards customization, so there is really no excuse not to get started.

[1] Oliver Wyman. 2020. Women in Financial Services 2020. May

[2] Anette Broløs and Erin B. Taylor. 2020. Female Finance: Digital, Mobile, Networked. EWPN and Keen Innovation and Erin B. Taylor and Anette Broløs. 2021 Female Finance in Figures. EWPN, Keen Innovation and Bank Cler.

[3] We decided to focus on the general findings and perspectives here. There are many important learnings to put to use in developing services for women-led SME’s and particularly to the economic access and development in poorer economies.

[4] We take inspiration from the Financial Alliance for Women. In their October 2020 report they indicate a number of ways to push forward: 1) Collecting sex disaggregated data; 2) Understanding women’s realities, needs and preferences; 3) Working with gender biases; 4) Developing holistic value propositions; 5) Setting these in marketing that appeals to women.

What the U.S. Can Learn From Open Banking Abroad

What the U.S. Can Learn From Open Banking Abroad

This is a guest post written by Shannon Flynn, managing editor at

Across the world, open banking is creating opportunities for banks, fintech platforms, and individuals like never before. Open banking allows third-party sources to use a financial institution’s existing platform or resources to provide their own services. With consumer permission, open banking allows these outside sources to grow the industry and give power to the people.

However, some countries inevitably use open banking more than others. Currently, the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia are two examples to follow. While the United States has made significant progress, it has a lot to learn from the countries that are leading this form of finance. That way, more opportunities open up for enterprises and consumers alike.

Where the U.S. stands

The U.S. is progressive in some ways with open banking. In others, it needs work. Notably, platforms like Venmo and PayPal expand on what’s possible for users. They allow you to make payments or transfer funds in the blink of an eye. However, compared to other countries, the States fall flat.

Big tech is currently a hot political topic due to the potential mishandling of user data. Though conversations like these are not uncommon elsewhere in the world, the U.S. needs to nail down some federal regulations. As of now, the U.S. still doesn’t have a federal-level law on data compliance. It’s up to each state to enforce its own regulations.

Brick-and-mortar locations may have an easier time following individual state guidelines, but the nature of open banking is inherently digital. These fintech services span across state borders, which makes compliance trickier without federal guidance.

For the country to proceed, the first step will be getting a universal law in place that shows banks and tech companies exactly how they must operate when it comes to compliance.

Engagement must increase

Open banking should welcome disruption. A country with a few centralized banks is one that does not allow for much disruption. Instead, only the top banks and tech companies have room to expand and create, leaving startups and smaller companies in the dust.

The U.S. has big tech companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft that each delve into new tech. For instance, Apple Pay and Google Pay let you buy on smartphones instantly.

The U.K. has an ideal open banking model that disrupts this lack of inclusivity. In 2018, the nation introduced the Second Payment Services Directive (PSD2). This initiative put an emphasis on increasing competition and creativity in the financial field. Ultimately, this directive wanted to create a more equal landscape between banks and fintech companies.

Since its introduction, 300 fintech brands have joined the new finance-oriented environment in the U.K. In the States, new brands pop up all the time. However, whether or not they stick and make an impact is a different story. The competitive market must change in the U.S. so more open banking innovation emerges.

Transparency is essential

People want to know what goes on with their data. They want to know who’s using it and for what — which inherently includes when third-party platforms are part of the equation. In a survey, almost 40% of respondents would reconsider their selected features if it meant a third party required access. This mistrust is a product of poor transparency throughout the industry.

Saudi Arabia recently expanded on its plans to make open banking more accessible for fintech companies. Through this process, transparency becomes a key factor. The Saudia Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA), the central bank, will create a new initiative that focuses on bringing consumers into the loop.

With the increased use of technology for banking, investing, and mobile payments, more and more people rely on technology daily. SAMA understands this need to combine financial and digital literacy, doing so through open banking. With consumer permission, third parties can use data to connect the financial institution with personal finance services.

The U.S. must use the same tactics of bringing transparency and functionality together through open banking. That way, digital literacy in the U.S. incorporates access to quick purchases, investments, and transfers alongside a better understanding of how companies use data.

Changing the U.S.

Apps like Venmo and PayPal are a good start to open banking. You’ll find that newer fintech platforms, like Robinhood, Acorns, and MoneyLion are popular resources alongside the countless startups launching daily. While nourishing open banking features and fintechs is beneficial, the underlying theme is the most critical — more regulation is the key to widespread adoption. With it, the U.S. can then fully see the benefits of this form of finance.

Shannon Flynn is a technology and culture writer with two plus years of experience writing about consumer trends and tech news.

How Embedded Finance Trends Are Transforming These 3 Industries

How Embedded Finance Trends Are Transforming These 3 Industries

This is a guest post written by Shannon Flynn, managing editor at

Embedded finance has taken the financial industry by storm. What started from banking-as-a-service (BaaS) has now developed into a full-blown feature that enterprises of all kinds are integrating.

The term embedded finance refers to companies that have historically been separate from financial services that now integrate them within a platform or app. During this integration, the company still retains control over the customer experience. It could be something as simple as paying a bill or something more complex, like full-fledged credit cards.

These trends are coming on strong. While they originated with banking services, embedded finance could end up becoming a bigger industry on its own. The reason for this growth can be seen in the following sectors.


The retail world has evolved and adapted to many historic changes, from e-commerce to new payment methods. Most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has put the spotlight on online shopping. Apps are now using embedded finance.

Delivery apps adapted as food takeout skyrocketed into popularity throughout the pandemic. Users can now save their credit or debit card information to apps like Doordash and Grubhub. Specific apps for restaurants also offer embedded finance options.

Similar things are happening elsewhere in the retail world. Shopify has connected businesses and customers quickly and efficiently with new embedded tech channels. Financial information is saved for customers so payments are a breeze. On the other side of the transaction, the embedded financial tech includes a dashboard for retailers to view and manage profits and individual orders.

These kinds of integrations cut out the need for a bank or other financial institution. Instead, consumers can do it all themselves.


The automotive industry has always done business through banks. When someone buys or leases a vehicle, dealers will contact a financial institution to better understand someone’s standing and credit. The industry is shifting, though.

Tesla is a key example of how embedded tech trends are impacting the automotive field. Shoppers can already use car sites and apps to pay their leases, but Tesla goes a step further and offers car insurance. It monopolizes on the opportunity to provide discounts.

Ridesharing has become a massive field. Through apps like Uber and Lyft, customers can call a car in minutes. These apps have evolved over time and now offer embedded financial services where customers can pay right from the app immediately after the driver drops them off.

This form of payment adds an extra layer of convenience that other services like taxis don’t offer.


In the past several years, big tech companies have gone from prominent to all-encompassing. Notably, Google and Apple have stepped up their financial services in a short period, offering things like Apple Pay and Google Pay. Customers can also use their Apple or Google wallets to store credit and debit cards. Moreover, Apple rolled out its first credit card in 2019.

These advancements mark a shift in the big tech world. Big companies are slowly separating from financial institutions and taking on those roles themselves. For instance, if you use your Apple Card from your Apple Wallet to pay for items, none of that interaction ever leaves the company’s control.

Embedded finance changes are happening on smaller scales in the tech world, too. Data and analytics companies may use tools like machine learning to adapt to consumer behavior when making purchases. They can then better enable companies in all industries to provide more embedded tech.

What the Embedded Finance Trends Mean

These three industries are pillars of innovation around the world. Banking-as-a-service has catapulted financial technology to the forefront of these fields, and embedded finance trends have become the norm. It may even outshine BaaS soon.

Physical branch locations decreased by 7% from 2015 through 2020 due to the rise in online banking. The turn to virtual resources is slowly taking over, which seems to be the natural progression of these industries — especially as the pandemic enforces the use of remote tech.

Embedded finance allows companies and consumers to operate independently from banks and financial institutions. This dynamic gives more agency to the industries themselves, helping to boost engagement and profits.

From here, more mobile apps and websites will directly incorporate financial resources into their dynamics. Big tech companies like Apple and Google are already pushing the boundaries of what embedded tech can do. Others are likely to follow suit.

The Convenience Factor

Embedding financial resources into industries that haven’t historically worked in finance is more than just a way for companies to engage consumers. They’re also a win for customers. After all, people tend to look for the most convenient ways to do things. Having everything in one place is a financial tech trend that is only going to grow from here.

Shannon Flynn is a technology and culture writer with two plus years of experience writing about consumer trends and tech news.

Why Fintech Is Slowly Integrating Into The Insurance Industry

Why Fintech Is Slowly Integrating Into The Insurance Industry

The following is a guest blog post by Paul Monaco, Client Director at Focus Oxford Risk Management

The adoption of financial technology continues to rise in general. This progression over time means that not only are there more platforms and use cases for fintech, but companies are also becoming more acclimatised to integrating them into their business plans.

Historically, insurance as a sector has been slower to adopt the latest in technology, and the case of financial technology is no expectation. Often pictured as huge swarms of suited figures in high rise buildings, in fact, the insurance industry is populated with businesses of varying sizes and diverse specialities.

As such, we can see a discrepancy in the adoption of the latest fintech solutions within insurance. The largest corporations offering simpler policies benefit from enhanced budgets and capacity, leaving them in good standing to adopt the solutions internally. The wealth of data available to these businesses also makes the benefits to them greater. Conversely, smaller providers and brokerages offering more bespoke policies have less faith in the ability of fintech to actually make their lives easier, and often with a lower ceiling of reward.

The current adoption of fintech in insurance

Adopting the advancement of technology at policyholder level is a clear example of how larger insurance companies are utilising fintech at the moment. The Internet of Things allows more devices than ever to report data. In the case of car insurance, policyholders are offered the use of an application with the incentive to potentially reduce premiums. This allows increased telemetrics data which can then feed into a better understanding of risk and necessary premium and coverage levels.

This adoption of policy level technology is also seen by some insurers within the health and life insurance sector. Increasingly, a consumer may be offered a device, such as a smartwatch, which not only incentivises the person to take out the policy but also gives opportunities to better understand the data behind claimants for insurance providers.

While consumer insurance is most commonly synonymous with fintech, there is an emerging case for use in the commercial sector. The utilisation of smart sensor technology for flood risks coverage is becoming more common when providing insurance for businesses. The lower cost of such setups is certainly a mitigating factor, and also allows for simpler types of coverage that reduce claim payment periods.

The key differentiator could be considered the gathering of data for companies of differing sizes in the insurance sector. At present, large providers can gain a better understanding of their clientele, allowing them to adjust policy requirements to minimise risks over time.

However, the use of existing customer data has been adopted more recently by insurance companies of all sizes. Once a policyholder has taken out a policy, the benefits of automated touchpoints have become valuable to even the smaller companies. With the use of data such as policy renewal dates, sequences can easily be created to keep in touch with customers and introduce the idea of relevant cross-sell opportunities at an early stage as they come up to renewal. Software itself is usually fairly intuitive. Platforms such as Brief Your Market remove the intense training previously required to run campaigns effectively internally.

What is slowing the adoption of fintech?

While fintech will surely become even more intrinsic to the insurance sector in the future, there can be no doubt that adoption rates will continue to be slow for most. That adoption is not from a lack of knowledge; 74% of respondents to a 2014 survey saw fintech innovations as a challenge for the insurance sector.

Interestingly that same survey found the insurance industry placed a higher than average value to fintech, compared to other financial sectors. This shows the constraints on insurance companies aren’t as clear cut as they may seem. Fears of reducing margins down even further and of moving from a focus on short term strategies to longer-term ones are likely constraints.

Furthermore, the adoption within the more specialist arms of the insurance industry will be understandably slower to adopt fintech at all levels. The nature of specialist insurance brokers hinges on their speciality of providing a human service for those that require a particular level of coverage or have constraints preventing traditional policies. Utilising fintech could prevent brokers from providing this high level of service.

Within such sectors, it’s likely that the primary use of fintech will continue to be more for leveraging current customer data and refining internal operations to save time.

What’s in the future for fintech & insurance?

Naturally, the unstable financial situation brought on by COVID-19 will likely lead to slightly lower adoption rates in 2021. Whilst the application of AI and increasing understanding of policy risks may continue to be alluring to providers, it’s highly unlikely that this will accelerate given the impact of the pandemic on the industry.

Moving beyond the ripple effect of COVID-19 there is no doubt that fintech will continue to grow, and increasingly so within the smaller providers and brokers. Likely, platforms will develop that will be more focussed on partnerships with these companies, rather than the internal adoption seen by the largest companies with the highest budgets.

Paul Monaco is Client Director at Focus Oxford Risk Management and specializes in the advice and arrangement of specialist business insurance and risk management to the Life Science, Medical Device, Scientific Research and Technology Sectors from new business start-ups through to PLCs.

The Commodification of Payments Platforms

The Commodification of Payments Platforms

The following is a guest post by Sandeep Sood, CEO of Kunai.

Last year, Facebook announced that all Whatsapp users in India would be able to send payments using India’s Unified Payments Interface (UPI).

UPI was responsible for 2 billion payments in India during the last month alone. It makes it possible for Indians to pay each other seamlessly, regardless of the platform or bank account they are using. Add 400 million Whatsapp users to this system, and you have the most powerful payment solution anywhere in the world.

You also have the blueprint for the future of payments. In my view, that future is a delightfully simple one, in which universal payments solutions are an inevitability, with or without government standards like UPI;

The story in India is instructive. Before UPI, Softbank and Alibaba-backed Paytm had spent years and millions of dollars building and marketing proprietary digital wallets. UPI has made their solutions irrelevant overnight.

Today, proprietary wallets and payment platforms around the world are attempting to build moats through features and network effects. Yet, there is an obvious ceiling to what people want from their payment solutions…and the reality is that “pay anyone quickly” captures almost everything customers want.

When competing payment solutions reach feature parity, the only thing left are network effects. This means that each solution will have a choice: join a universal standard or fade into obscurity, like Paytm in India. The vast majority will choose to join a universal standard, which means they will become easy to replace.

This is a great outcome for economic growth and FinTech innovation. It is also fertile ground for the upcoming currency revolution. Universal payment solutions will also accept any form of currency with a large user base, be it the US Dollar, the Chinese Yuan, Bitcoin, or Central Bank Digital Currency (CDBC). The currencies of the future won’t compete based on their network effects, but rather more important attributes, such as their monetary policy. This is good news for currency innovations like Bitcoin.

As a FinTech newbie in 2013, I was surprised to find conferences, websites, and companies dedicated exclusively to ‘payments’. I was ignorant to the fact that payments were still generally clumsy and cumbersome…and that they required so much infrastructure and resources to do well. I’m looking forward to a future where the innovation is happening at a level far beyond the enabling of payments.

Sandeep Sood is the CEO of Kunai. He’s been building quality agencies that attract quality teams in order to build quality products. He sold his first agency, Monsoon, to Capital One in 2015.

Photo by emirkhan bal from Pexels