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What Banks Can Learn from Social Media Apps

By David Lester

With technology advancing at an exponential rate, it seems as though most banks have fallen behind the curve when it comes to their mobile app capabilities and enticing a millennial audience. A generation that demands superior service, convenience and accessibility at their fingertips, millennials will follow where amenity leads and unfortunately simply having a mobile app will no longer suffice. So what exactly does the largest generation in the U.S. expect from its bank in terms of mobile technology? Here are a few features in high demand:

  1. Budgeting Capabilities – It’s no secret that millennials struggle with money. With student loans, low-paying jobs and high living costs, savings accounts often get pushed to the wayside. That’s where apps like Mint come in. They easily connect to the user’s bank account and allow them to create a detailed monthly budget, giving users a bird’s eye view of exactly where their money is spent. Banks should streamline this process and create a similar system within their own apps by giving users the option to set aside money for necessities like rent, food, gas etc. and budget out a fixed rate for perks like dining out or shopping. Imagine receiving a notification when there’s only five dollars remaining in your monthly coffee budget, devastating but practical.
  2. Investing Capabilities – For millennials, investing is one of those concepts that sounds great in theory, but feels so far removed from day-to-day life that it doesn’t seem like a priority. In order to help users navigate the investing landscape, banks should show them the ropes on how to invest on their own terms. In addition to providing simple, step-by-step instructions, banks should also provide a service that rounds up purchases to the next dollar and moves that amount into a savings account to be reinvested. While a form of this feature is available at most on-site banks, many mobile banking apps lack the seamlessness made available by some third-party developers. The Acorn app, for example, effortlessly invests the user’s extra change by rounding up purchases to the nearest dollar, making saving and investing painless and user friendly.
  3. Financial Advice – Often offered in essay-formatted articles or nap-inducing pamphlets, financial advice is sought by many but understood by few. Wouldn’t it be nice to have financial guidance right at your fingertips? The app Level Money connects to your bank account and automatically calculates your income and reoccurring bills and then suggests what your daily, weekly and monthly spending should be. Level Money also recommends monthly savings amounts and gives you the option to set up auto-save, making smart financial decisions seem effortless. Financial advisors know personal finance like the back of their hands, so why not provide info to users in a fun and app-accessible way? Simply creating a saving and spending algorithm would help teach users to “act their wage” by seeing how much they can truly spend every day without going over budget.
  4. Money Sharing – Millennials may not be experts at saving or investing money, but they are experts at sharing it, especially if it’s within a social setting. This generation has flipped online media on its head in order to accommodate their desire to communicate with peers. Apps like Venmo, CashApp and SnapMoney have already beaten banks to the punch with this one. These apps integrate a social community with a simple necessity – transferring money. If you’ve ever gone out to eat with a group of millennials, you understand just how significant it is to virtually transfer funds. Creating a fun, social space for users to pay someone back with the click of a button has all but replaced ATM trips to pull out cash to pay back a friend. Banks should integrate a system into their mobile app that allows users to send money simply by pressing a button. If they really want to get ahead of the competition, the transferred funds should be available same day (third-party apps can take up to three business days to transfer funds). A partnership with these apps would be a quick and cost effective solution.  No need to recreate the proverbial wheel here!

In the end, consumers want a bank that is going to help them reach their financial goals in an easy and delightful way – so why not help them by creating more user-friendly features within your mobile banking app? In a world of increasing technology, banks must keep up with the trends to keep their largest target market, millennials, intrigued.

Note: David Lester is Managing Finance Director, Brightworks Interactive Marketing.

Specializing in digital marketing for financial institutions, Brightworks Interactive Marketing can help develop your bank’s mobile app to meet the demands of your customers. By developing the right strategies rather than offering a set of confined services, Brightworks Interactive Marketing tailors each client’s experience to ensure a personalized business approach. The company prides itself on creating experiences that connect the right brand message to the right audience through desktop, mobile and social channels as well as via traditional (paper) tactics. For more information on taking your financial institution to the next level, visit

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