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.”

Bankjoy and Zogo Finance Team Up to Onboard and Educate Gen Z Customers

Bankjoy and Zogo Finance are betting that helping credit unions and community banks educate their members rather than “sell” to them is the key to better engagement for CUs and better financial health for consumers.

In a strategy especially geared toward attracting Gen Z customers, Bankjoy and Zogo will offer credit unions a combined financial literacy program and online account opening solution. The combined technology enables new members to join in 90 seconds or less while improving their financial wellness. The partnership will enable credit unions to refashion their offers into educational opportunities rather than just sales pitches, and help the next generation as they grow from learning financial responsibility to taking financially responsible actions, like opening a savings account.

Zogo founder and CEO Bolun Li said that the partnership will enable users of his company’s platform to “take the next step and join a credit union.” Zogo Finance, which won Best of Show at its Finovate debut last fall, leverages behavioral finance – and real world rewards – to guide users of its technology through a series of 300+ educational micro-modules. These lessons, providing information on topics like using credit and successful savings, help users meet the national standards for financial literacy. Successful completion of a module grants the user points that can be redeemed as gift cards from leading brands.

For many fintechs, Gen Z represents an opportunity to market financial solutions based more on financial literacy and the balance between credit, consumption and savings, as opposed to debt-fighting strategies and longer-term family planning. As the median Millennial is moving into their thirties, the oldest Gen Zs are negotiating their teenage years and starting to develop the kind of financial habits that could stick with them well into adulthood.

GoMedici recently cited a RaveReviews study that indicated that the average Gen Z youth begins learning about financial planning at the age of 13. The study indicated that of its polled respondents, 60% of Gen Z had a savings account and 89% said that “planning for their financial future made them feel empowered.” The study added that it expects Gen Z to comprise as much as 40% of the consumer market as early as this year.

“Zogo is exactly the kind of value we have been looking for to add to our digital banking platform,” Bankjoy CEO Mike Duncan said. “Providing financial education to younger generations builds value on top of our digital banking ecosystem and delivers it through all our different channels to create a better member experience – especially for Gen Z.”

Zogo Finance finished 2019 with news that it had partnered with 11 community banks and credit unions in 12 different states. Founded in 2018, the company is headquartered in Durham, North Carolina.

Bankjoy also ended last year with new partners in the credit union community. An alum of FinovateFall from 2016, where the company demonstrated its API, Bankjoy announced in December that it was collaborating with three credit unions in Indiana and Texas that have a combined $500+ million in assets and 50,000+ members. Based in Royal Oak, Michigan, Bankjoy was founded in 2015.

Financial Literacy Focused Best of Show Winner Zogo Unveils 11 New Partners

How many partners does it take to help drive a national effort to boost youth financial literacy?

According to news from Finovate Best of Show winner Zogo, eleven is a great place to start.

Zogo announced late last month that it has teamed up with 11 community banks and credit unions across 12 different states to offer its teen financial literacy app to customers and members as a branded offering. Each institution will get an access code specific to their bank or credit union that they provide to the users of the app. Once the code is entered, the Zogo app becomes branded with the institution’s logo, helping create a more unique, partner-specific experience for the customer.

“With Zogo, we wanted to create a financial education experience our peers would actually use,” Zogo co-founder and CEO Bolun Li said. “We are excited to partner with community-focused financial institutions to bring this vision to life.”

The app works by guiding users through more than 300 educational micro-modules that help them meet the national standards for financial literacy. These include topics such as using credit, saving, and financial investing. Successfully completing a module earns the user points that can be redeemed in the form of gift cards. Zogo won Best of Show honors at FinovateFall in September for its live demo of the app, which leverages behavioral economic research developed at Duke University in North Carolina to help foster literacy in younger adults.

The firms that will be using the app as early as this year are:

  • CommunityWide FCU (Indiana)
  • Diamond CU (Pennsylvania)
  • First Bank & Trust (Louisiana)
  • Magnolia FCU (Mississippi)
  • MassMutual FCU (Massachusetts)
  • North Star Community CU (North Dakota)
  • Pen Air FCU (Florida)
  • Pyramid FCU (Arizona)
  • RelyOn CU (Texas)
  • Southern Chautauqua FCU (New York)
  • West Town Bank & Trust (Illinois, North Carolina)

Founded in 2018, Zogo has raised $295,000 in pre-seed funding, and is backed by Techstars and MetLife. In addition to its Finovate Best of Show honors, Zogo was the winner of the National Association of Credit Union Service Organizations (NACUSO) 7th Annual Next Big Idea contest earlier this year.

“Zogo is such a timely application, built to connect with young adults as they are beginning to learn the value of money,” NACUSO President and former USAA Bank CEO Jack Antonini said. “Delivered through ubiquitous mobile phone, this app can help credit unions capture new members, while teaching and reinforcing responsible financial habits.”

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • WeInvest Bolsters its WealthTech with the Launch of StratWealth.
  • Kofax Embraces AI and ML as Intelligent Automation Platform Evolves
  • Financial Literacy Focused Best of Show Winner Zogo Unveils 11 New Partners

Around the web

  • Thurgauer Kantonalbank integrates Avaloq’s e-banking solution to its existing platform.
  • MoneyGram launching Ripple’s XRP in multiple markets.
  • FIS brings core banking technology to Apple Bank.

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 Demo Videos Are Live

Maybe you missed your chance to attend FinovateFall earlier this month. Or maybe you want to watch your favorite demos over again. Either way, today’s your day. We’ve just released all of the videos from the 75 companies that demoed their fintech on stage.

All of the 7-minute demos are available to stream and download for free at Finovate.com. And if you don’t know where to begin, we’ll get you started with the nine demos that won Best of Show at the event.

BlytzPay

Cinchy

College Aid Pro

ebankIT

Glia

MX

owl.co

Pinkaloo Technologies

Zogo Finance

FinovateFall Best of Show Winners Announced

The votes have been cast and the ballots counted. And after two days of live fintech demos from 75 innovative companies, here are the best of the best: the companies our attendees have deemed FinovateFall’s Best of Show.

BlytzPay for its text-to-pay solution that makes billing and communication simple, streamlined, and secure while providing flexibility to pay by card, check, or cash. Demo video.

Cinchy for its Data Collaboration Platform that lets data work the way it should: connected, controlled, and accessible for real-time collaboration. Demo video.

College Aid Pro for its innovative technology, supported by a community of financial advisors, that changes the way America shops for college. Demo video.

ebankIT for its omnichannel digital banking platform that helps banks and credit unions transform their businesses. Demo video.

Glia for its technology that creates digital-first moments that simplify and transform communications between businesses and their customers. Demo video.

MX Technologies for its platform that helps financial institutions and fintechs quickly and easily collect, enhance, analyze, present, and act on their financial data. Demo video.

owl.co for its instant KYC/AML tool that automates enhanced due diligence on both individuals and companies. Demo video.

Pinkaloo Technologies for its solution that helps financial institutions attract and retain customers and increase deposits and fees by powering their customers’ charitable giving. Demo video.

Zogo Finance for its technology that leverages partnerships with financial institutions to reward kids for learning financial literacy. Demo video.

Those in attendance at this year’s FinovateFall can attest to the energy and enthusiasm that characterized our conference this week. Congratulations to all 75 of the companies that demonstrated their fintech innovations on stage and a heartfelt thanks to our partners, sponsors, and onsite tech team for making this year’s autumn event a smashing success.

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 nine 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 2019 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 2018
FinovateAsia 2018
FinovateAfrica 2018
FinovateEurope 2019

FinovateSpring 2019

FinovateFall Sneak Peek: Zogo Finance

A look at the companies demoing live at FinovateFall on September 23 through 25, 2019 in New York City. Register today and save your spot.

Zogo Finance offers a white-labeled, financial education app that rewards cash incentives to users for learning.

Features

  • Bite-sized modules
  • Embedded rewards system
  • Lead generation

Why it’s great
Get paid to learn financial literacy.

Presenter

Bolun Li, CEO
Li is a 20 years old serial entrepreneur and was awarded 30 under 30 in 2018 for his previous startup.
LinkedIn

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

Around the web

  • Nice Actimize introduces surveillance system, SURVEIL-X.
  • Scalable Capital teams up with Raisin to offer its customers the ability to invest in fixed-term deposits at partner Baader Bank.
  • Standard and Premium customers of Revolut in 26 markets now have access to stock trading via the platform.
  • Financial Times highlights Meniga as a fintech to watch. Come see Meniga’s live demo at FinovateFall next week in New York!
  • NYMBUS appoints Dr. Joerg Richter as its new Chief Operating Officer, Platforms. NYMBUS will showcase its newest technology at FinovateFall next week in New York!
  • Tradeshift to help Spendency app users leverage their transaction data.
  • iProov releases HTML v.2 Beta on GitHub to help users secure user identity in HTML5.
  • Onfido earns the top spot in FinTechCity’s 2019 Fintech 50 roster.

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.