Every generation is famed for something; for millennials, it’s their hyperconnectivity. Technology is so enmeshed with their daily lives that they rely on it for everything. Some call this codependency, but as the first generation to grow up with technology, millennials got a taste of instant gratification from a young age—and can we really blame them for using technology to satiate their every need?
Whatever they want, it’s theirs. Social interaction? There’s Facebook and Instagram. Entertainment? There’s Netflix and Spotify. Food? There’s UberEats. Shopping? There’s Amazon. It’s only natural and familiar, then, that the same would apply to their financial needs.
Millennials are an impossible generation to overlook. They account for 25 percent of the global population, they’re the largest generation in the workforce (every one in three working Americans is a Gen Yer), and they have over $200 billion in buying power. This is what makes them the dream audience for so many companies, the financial technology sector included.
Technology has won all their trust
27 percent of millennials have never stepped foot inside their bank’s branch before. To some, this may be shocking. When you hear older generations talking about how millennials aren’t smart with their money or don’t care about their finances, this is why—but it’s also wrong. They care about their money, and they’re currently putting more money into their savings than any other generation. They just don’t care about brick-and-mortar institutions.
The 2008 financial crisis traumatized millennials and, naturally, they don’t trust big banks as a result. Why would they put their faith in something that is so clearly broken? Their lackadaisical attitude towards banks is not laziness, it’s a rejection of legacy systems. They’ve witnessed first-hand the manipulation and negligence of big banks and want to forego formality and jargon in place of convenience.
Millennials don’t care about the showmanship of building relationships with tellers and investors like other generations do; their brand (and, in this case, bank) loyalty comes from their online experiences—just like it has their entire lives. They want help navigating their finances. They want tools that will help them become more financially independent. This is what makes them fintech’s perfect customers.
Give them what’s inherent to their personal lives
Unlike generations before them, millennials trust (and prefer) technology when it comes to business transactions. This is clear in digitization’s evolution of the finance sector. Face-to-face interactions are declining and giving way to more efficient, accessible solutions. To connect with millennials, fintech companies must offer up services and processes that are inherent to their normal, everyday lives. That is convenience, simplicity, and a “one-stop shop” for everything.
Why would you go to a physical branch if you could transfer funds online? Why would you sort through complex financial jargon when a robo-advisor could assist you? Why would you meet with an investor if an investment app like Acorns could do your investing for you? Nearly half of consumers already conduct most of their banking activity online; in the next three years, that number is expected to rise 121 percent. Millennials want financial control and freedom, and they can achieve that while being a more passive participant in the process—and that’s okay.
Consider Venmo. The peer-to-peer payment space isn’t a new concept. Before Venmo was PayPal, and since then, the neighborhood of finance apps has become even more overcrowded. Yet, Venmo has always remained the most popular platform among younger generations. Why is that?
First, it’s easy to use (check). It became so ubiquitous with its audience in such a short period of time that it even became a verb: “I’ll Venmo you my portion of dinner later.” You’ll remember the same exact thing happened with Google. Second, it’s convenient (check). Millennials rarely carry around cash, and Venmo furthers the agenda of a cashless society. Then, it features a social component (check). It’s the first mobile payment app to do so, and judging by millennials’ loyalty to the app, it’s obvious this resonates with them.
The way we access money looks different today than it did decades ago. Digitization and consumer demands transform the way we make payments and allocate funds. We always say that the future will be cashless, but it could also be bankless. Younger generations don’t need the comfort of a physical branch because their trust isn’t grounded on in-person relationships, but, instead, on instant gratification. So, add “Unbanked Generation” to the list of millennial influence.