We are in the midst of seismic societal changes of how people interact and transact. Across societies, geographies and segments, digital is the new norm. Change has accelerated, placing greater value upon flexibility and speed. Historically, money and finance have been among the more conservative and slower changing parts of society, but this has changed dramatically over the past decade by viewing money as an instigator of change rather than a lagging indicator.
Whether you are a marketer in shining armor conquering new territory, a financial wizard casting spells upon the balance sheet, or the queen or king guiding the whole enterprise, here are 4 trends about money that you should keep in mind for your business.
Platforms are the new kingdoms
Platforms are the base upon which other structures can be built. For example, App stores from Apple and Google provide the infrastructure for consumers to complete commercial transactions and manage finances through their mobile phones. While these companies develop their own digital wallets, they also enable similar services from banks, retailers and other companies. Building and maintaining the platform enables services that they would not have created on their own, like Uber or Lyft, which in turn, have created their own platforms.
Marketers trying to address customers’ needs can plug into platforms to broaden offerings or deepen engagement with target markets. Platform-based thinking implies that product and service design is ongoing and doesn’t stop with a product launch. Jack Dorsey didn’t stop when he built the Square credit card reader. The team went into lending with Square Capital. They got into consumer P2P payments with Square Cash. Their ecosystem has grown through partnerships with other companies as well as in-house development.
Digital Identities open the gates
How do your customers interact with you? Do they need to create a username and password or can they use a 3rd party system like Google or Facebook? Are security services like two-factor authentication or biometrics used to protect credentials? Is your company protecting customer identities adequately? The importance of all of these questions is increasing and often the difference between being forced into early retirement by a massive data breach, or surviving to continue to grow your business.
While identity management and digital security might not be top of mind for most marketers, they are table stakes for even the most basic future business. History is full of tales of rulers successfully fighting off armies laying sieges on castles and fortresses, only to fail when another army gets access to a key for the back door.
Context rules the experience
Credit card transactions moved from predominantly being in-store, to e-commerce sites accessed from desktop computers, and now to mobile phones. As the point-of-purchase expanded, so did the consumer use cases and thought processes. In tandem, mobile screens presents less information than desktop computer screens, which in turn presents less information than associates in a brick-and-mortar environment. Companies best able to understand context and deliver the right user experience within these constraints will build loyal customer relationships.
Apps or services created for a different use cases on the same platform, such as Facebook and Messenger apps, can help achieve this. Banks and have different apps for managing accounts or for completing transactions or payments. On a desktop, you can access these services through a single interface but on the mobile, forcing users to select their use case helps present a streamlined experience on the smaller, more time-constrained mobile screen. The use of additional data such as location, device, etc. can further streamline the experience. Marketers that don’t think about the context will lose the battle before it even begins.
Data is gold
While a marketer’s goal is to generate sales, data has become a value driver. In the financial world, data about payments, assets and liabilities has become critical in how products and services are delivered. PayPal, a fintech that began even before the word ‘fintech’, has recently been using payments data from their platform to help build a lending business for their customers. Similarly, an SME lender named Kabbage has grown to unicorn status by using data from other sources to make smarter lending and pricing decisions. In the payments industry, Stripe distilled a previously complex technology integration into a minimal data set, accessed via API, to easily build payments into new digital products and services.
Marketers that are able to harness the power of data will be able to predict what customers want and more effectively address their needs. In some cases, it might be using data from within your enterprise or from other platforms for targeting, pricing or servicing decisions. In other cases, it might be using data to reimagine what your product or service is.