News & Views

How would Millennials reinvent money?

by Patrick Jeffrey

Last week I attended a session hosted by Rufus Leonard that aimed to challenge the way we look at money. The event was based around the fact that, according to Viacom-owned Scratch’s Millennial Disruption Index, Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce in 2025, yet 33% of them believe that there will be no need for (consumer) banks in the future.

Five groups of Millennials, from the likes of Hyper Island and Harvard, were charged with creating a concept that would redefine banking, and appeal to their demographic. The groups were given three days to devise and develop their idea before presenting it back to an audience on Friday.

Here are the ideas:

Idea 1 / Dink

Dink makes transactions smarter by recording, analysing and employing personal financial datasets. The app learns your habits, likes and tendencies, and then urges users to make small tweaks that add up to big savings. If you’re buying your morning coffee from an expensive barista, for example, the app may alert you that there’s a cheaper (and equally highly-rated) coffee house just a couple of streets away.

Idea 2 / Stash

A ‘silent saving system’ that adds a small percentage to each card transaction and stashes that money away in a separate account. Users can select a savings goal, and when that's reached, they receive an SMS informing them. They can either then choose to keep stashing their cash, or they can withdraw it in one lump sum.

Idea 3 / PayPosse

A mobile app that splits a bill between a group of friends in seconds. Because Millennials tend to do everything together – from festivals and holidays to stag dos and meals out – PayPosse aims to eliminate the social awkwardness of dealing with payments and make bill-paying processes simple.

Idea 4 / Youscore

A new type of credit rating, designed for Millennials who currently can’t get a loan or a credit card because banks don’t have enough data on them to trust them. Youscore uses people’s personal and professional behaviours rather than monetary activity. A platform draws together information from Linkedin, eBay, Airbnb etc. to build up a reliable, in-depth profile of the individual and their habits. It could also consider good deeds – like volunteering in your local community. A kind of Klout for credit.

Idea 5 / Narwhal

An app that helps people invest in the brands they love. Millennials don’t trust bankers or know anything about banking, said the team, but they are interested in brands. So, having paid for something on ASOS, for example, Narwhal would give its users the opportunity to invest a small amount of cash in the company. Narwhal would only work with brands that had the highest production and management standards, and the team aim for the logo to become a kind of ‘ethical kitemark’ in the world of brands.

Obviously these are conceptual – some may roll out easily, others would have to overcome some serious hurdles if they were to bring their product to market at all. Let’s also remember that many of these ideas already exist in some form or other. Dink is similar to iGaranti (Contagious I/O subscribers can read about that here), Stash is very similar to Acorns (I/O subscribers see here) and there are a number of bill-splitting apps like PayPosse.

But to focus on the functionality is sort of missing the point. Here we have five teams of smart Millennials, all creating services that feel relevant to how they live their lives. And there are a couple of interesting insights to pull from this:

They are all mobile
There’s not a desktop webpage or retail chain in sight. When Millennials were all asked to reimagine banking, the smartphone was front and centre. Nothing else got a look in.

They are ethically driven
Numerous teams were clear that their company must do a bit of good in the world. From only partnering with ethical companies (like Narwhal) to ensuring that community deeds are rewarded (Youscore), the Millennials ensured that social good was baked into their business models. 

They simplify banking
Stash and Dink let you save with ease, PayPosse helps you pay effortlessly, Youscore aims to streamline the credit process and Narwhal is all about removing the complication from investments. No befuddling Ts&Cs or ambiguous rates.

The last of these points – simplicity – reminded me of a study by consumer watchdog Witch? in 2012. The company asked a group of students to calculate the unauthorised cost of an overdraft by studying a mock bank statement from four different banks. Not even the maths PhD student managed to work it out. Which begs the question, why are so many banks hiding behind the complex nature of the sector to bamboozle and, ultimately, mislead their customers?

The five ideas may not represent a clear and present danger to big banking institutions. But, as the finance sector looks to the burgeoning field of Fintech in an attempt to become more relevant to Millennials, perhaps they could ask themselves these three questions: Are we mobile-first? Are we ethical? And are we making things simpler?

Because that’s probably what Millennials will be looking for.

For more information on Rufus Leonard's event, check out the website