Market disrupters in the financial sector – there’s an app for that

‘This is the best thing since sliced bread,’ is a popular statement that indicates that the most revolutionary and universal innovation of our generation has been in the food sector. Perhaps its because the digital revolution, that has been more than 100 years in the making, is not complete and many grandparents are still trying to learn how to use their smartphones, turn on a computer and send an email.

The new generation collectively believes that that the only thing that is constant is change, and they want it just for the sake of it. That’s the reason why many advertisers target them because they have the desire for change and will try many brands and products in search of new experiences and to claim their place among the ‘in-crowd’.

On the other hand the post-youth generation is rejected by advertisers because there comes time in a man’s life that no amount of beer advertising will convince him to change his habits. You can mount billboards outside his house or subject him to an intense advertising schedule of TV ads, bring attractive merchandisers in tight skirts into his bar to promote your beer, but he won’t change his habits.

Over a branding discussion this weekend I asked a group of middle aged participants what their favorite car brand was, as part of an example of promoting and meeting brand promises. The participants mentioned utility vehicles like the Mazda BT-50, and practical, economical cars like the Nissan California, much to my frustration. What about the Lexus, the BMW and the Benz? These make for a much better discussion in the branding exercise.

At some point, it seems that once you cross that daunting age of 35, you release the dreamer in you and adopt a more pragmatic persona, which is not lost to marketers of brands around the world. So when I attended a product launch last week that was hosted by TV personalities, DJs and entertainers, with sound blaring louder than my senses could tolerate on a Monday morning, a cursory glance around the theatre revealed that the average age was increased significantly by the presence of a few people from my generation in a room full of millennials.

Loop by CBA (Commercial Bank of Africa) isn’t a banking product, its an app. As a budding entrepreneur you need to track your business activities, communicate these with your financial institution and have a running credit rating with them so that they don’t put you through the Spanish Inquisition to get an overdraft. Well, there’s an app for that — literally.

There have been a number of disruptors in the financial sector in my lifetime. These included the introduction of ATMs (Automated Teller Machines) which eventually led to the second disruptor, Cafe Banking by Move (NIC Bank); the introduction of M-PESA which also led to the fourth innovation M-Shwari by CBA, an M-PESA banking product.

CBA has done it again by introducing a smartphone application that fits within the lifestyles of the millennial entrepreneur, who seem surgically attached to their mobile devises. When that devise is lost or broken, what they know as life comes to a sudden stop!

Cheque books are not a factor and the significance of credit cards is waning to this group based on the latest developments. I remember when banks started to promote credit cards in Kenya, experts were curious about their role in a market where people still didn’t know how to use cheques, and who often issued the rubber variety with inherent bounce qualities.

The name, Loop, conjures up connotations of hip music playlists, pop star touring circuits and road trips that Get Y has grown to love, and in a way saying that the journey to success is indeed the destination. Also, from the name, you get the idea that the executives at CBA have spent a considerable amount of time generating insights from the target audience in order to deliver a solution that solidly meets their needs.

To listen to your customers in this day and age is assisted by Big Data that we all generate as part of our digital foot print. When we shop, dine, pay bills and buy stuff, we leave a trail of information that is immensely useful to brands and service providers, with which they can improve the experience in communication and fulfilling the brand promise.

We know the supermarkets have this data through their loyalty cards, but can’t say much about how they use it. The Loop on the other hand intends to use Big Data to drive customer satisfaction, manage processes and create (financially) intimate relationships with budding entrepreneurs from the new generation.

And if that’s not enough and you really want to touch something in the real world to validate Loop and stimulate the remnants of the older generation still left in you, there are physical Loop Stores which are more like Tweet-Up spaces than the traditional, intimidating and overbearing banking halls we’re used to. To cap it all the tag line Unbank Yourself talks to that antiestablishment and rebellious spirit that is a natural part of growing up and which has always defined pop culture.


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