Every day we see how the power of innovation is disrupting the old ways we shop, eat, travel, socialize, date, communicate and, increasingly important, interact with our money. After all, without money in today’s disruptive forms, we can’t take advantage of all those wonderful innovations. With change, especially in financial markets, comes uncertainty, intimidation and risk, depending on how you choose to transact.
As Elon Musk launched PayPal, our experience was limited to eBay initially. It was difficult to navigate and transact, but we were forced to adapt if we wanted to play on eBay. Just as we established a comfort level with it, peer-to-peer disruptors entered the market to, well, disrupt PayPal.
When Fiserv called us to help launch their peer-to-peer solution called PopMoney, it was during a highly competitive and noisy window for that emerging space. We established personas that resonated with the users, giving them social personalities designed to drive adoption. It was a great exercise in knowing what works, what doesn’t, and how much capital it takes to capture the mindset of a distracted demographic.
On the credit union front, we supported Delta Community, the largest institution in Georgia and one of the largest in the country. They had an interesting idea: create a separate brand targeting millennials. They called it Quarterlife. Our role initially was to promote the brand, and along the way, we asked whether the brand was resonating. And so we recommended and managed a series of think tanks designed to get inside “that mindset” again. The insight was valuable because we empowered them to share their ideas, not simply react to our ideas.
Today we work in the underbanked marketplace. We have been in this market for a number of years through different channels and clients. Heavily focused on struggling small business, we worked to understand the challenges people faced when trying to get access to cash – most of it through alternative lending options like merchant cash advances, factoring products and short-term loans.
Most of our attention these days can be found getting inside the minds of the underbanked consumer. Leveraging an alternative credit bureau’s research on underbanked consumers, we are working to understand people who, for various reasons, have few or no ties to mainstream financial institutions. We package our research into vehicles like whitepapers to generate media interest and build enough momentum to establish some thought leadership. Of course the content promotes the company, but it also demystifies some key points about how and why so many Americans have gone without banking services (and what can be done to change that).
So where will we be a year from now, five years from now? We can expect many things will be different. Your phone will play a critical role. And the generation that follows will likely never touch a coin other than one in an increasingly valuable coin collection.