The personal finance platform came to life at Hudson Yards in an immersive and educating experience—PSFK scoped it out spoke to VP Dana Marineau for insights on how millennials are driving the next generation of finance retail, increasingly looking for all-inclusive ecosystems

Although the finance retail industry is essentially the machine that drives the entire market, it appeared less-than-thrilled to adopt the now widespread digitalization across the retail ecosystem. Even today, many banks still require customers to opt-in to paperless billing, and the corresponding mobile platforms are often outdated and difficult to navigate.

New services are emerging from major players in the finance retail industry (see: Wells Fargo's on-demand financial management experience), but the biggest investments in digital finance appear to be coming from the outside. Straight out of Silicon Valley, the soon-to-be released Apple credit card leverages almost every trend of millennial-driven retail, from privacy and simplicity to efficiency and seamless digital integration. What's more, is that it appears on track to pay off: A new consumer survey points out that a quarter of millennials already intend to apply for the card. And yet, despite its promise, the Apple Card will still feel out of touch for many young consumers who view the technology juggernaut as inherently impersonal, designed to optimize efficiency for the masses.

Enter Credit Karma. Almost every working millennial and gen Z'er has heard the name of the personal finance platform at one time or another, and there's a reason for it: Free and without hidden fees, Credit Karma delivers personalized recommendations and assistance based on a user's credit scores, reports and other related finance history, all within a centralized platform that is both easy to use and easy to look at. The service works diligently to de-stigmatize credit, offering users free FICO scores from TransUnion and Equifax as well as a perfectly simplified score breakdown, complete with an AI-driven chatbot and millennial-friendly terms such as “credit coaching” and “score hack.” The platform's success even drove Experian—the third major credit-reporting firm—to develop its own version, offering free FICO scores and lending recommendations online in addition to a revamped mobile platform.

But Credit Karma continues to go above and beyond in its strategies to appeal to a younger base. Just this past month, the platform debuted and hosted a one-night-only pop-up at Hudson Yards. The event, which PSFK had the pleasure of attending, was both an immersive experience as well as a physical version of the platform's greatest assets. Each checkpoint experience was designed to present finances in a fun, engaging and millennial-friendly manner. Highlights included the “stress free finances” zone, where one could remove the stress of financial planning with on-demand hand and temple massages, and a “Karma Cocktails” station, where guests could learn how to make their own signature cocktails at home.

lya Savenok / Credit Karma

In conversation with PSFK, VP of Credit Karma Dana Marineau spoke to the influence of millennials on the changing consumer expectations for the finance retail industry:

“Millennials tend to look for products, services and companies who are transparent, and who give them answers and solutions in one place, instantly.

In a world where we can get things on demand—a ride somewhere, a food delivery, money owed to you, etc.—millennials are also looking to make decisions more quickly through instant answers and solutions. They need a company who will help them reach a decision in the most efficient way, all while still being thoughtful and thorough.

They also want a partner they trust to help them make these important and often bigger financial decisions. From paying off student debt, to making smart long-term decisions like planning for retirement, they want to know the advice is being given in their best interest. Once that trust is established, they are more likely to work with that one company long-term.

And, this demographic is looking for one place to get this all done. Instead of having one place to explore credit card options, one place to shop for an auto loan, and one place to check their credit score, they are looking for one company to help them accomplish all three.

As such, companies have had to adjust their product and strategy in order to deliver this experience to these users. They need to change the pace in which they get their customers to a solution; they need to work hard as a brand to establish that trust with their customers; and they need to build out a product that delivers a comprehensive, end-to-end experience for their customers so as to retain these customers.”

Although the DIY stations lacked nothing in entertainment value, the real Credit Karma IRL experience was the actual Credit Karma presence, with brand ambassadors and credit professionals available at every corner of the room to answer any on-demand finance-related questions, or provide personalized advice. After handing me a selection of at-home face masks, one credit expert recommended I use the platform's identity monitoring feature, a tool that provides detailed information regarding a person's email and password security. And she was right; in just a few seconds after downloading the free app, I learned my email address had incurred 12 data breaches over the past 10 years, and was able to use the information to adjust my passwords accordingly.

Ilya Savenok / Credit Karma

Not for nothing was the event's celebrity host, for it was perhaps the biggest factor of attendance among the primarily millennial and gen Z crowd. Jonathan Van Ness, the darling of Netflix's Emmy-nominated Queer Eye, arrived halfway through the event to talk about his partnership with Credit Karma, and why he supports the empowering platform. As the ringleader of a group that transforms and reinvents the lives of struggling people, his voice was perhaps the most relevant for an event designed to inspire young people to take control of their financial lives.

Ilya Savenok / Credit Karma

One thing is for certain: Credit Karma is committed to changing the perception of finance retail for a younger generation, and unlike a lot of its competition, is willing to invest in the digital strategies and actionable tools that make finance more appealing and accessible to that same audience.

Credit Karma


Lead image: Ilya Savenok / Credit Karma

Although the finance retail industry is essentially the machine that drives the entire market, it appeared less-than-thrilled to adopt the now widespread digitalization across the retail ecosystem. Even today, many banks still require customers to opt-in to paperless billing, and the corresponding mobile platforms are often outdated and difficult to navigate.

New services are emerging from major players in the finance retail industry (see: Wells Fargo's on-demand financial management experience), but the biggest investments in digital finance appear to be coming from the outside. Straight out of Silicon Valley, the soon-to-be released Apple credit card leverages almost every trend of millennial-driven retail, from privacy and simplicity to efficiency and seamless digital integration. What's more, is that it appears on track to pay off: A new consumer survey points out that a quarter of millennials already intend to apply for the card. And yet, despite its promise, the Apple Card will still feel out of touch for many young consumers who view the technology juggernaut as inherently impersonal, designed to optimize efficiency for the masses.