While financial services and investment guidance were once opportunities reserved only for an elite income bracket, new modes of operation and digital offerings are diversifying the field. Between established organizations innovating their digital practices, innovators creating neo banks and new investment products, and services being created specifically for historically underserved communities, more consumers can now strategically advance, and thus grow, their financial standing.
In this research paper, PSFK explores the new ways in which financial services, once a largely inaccessible topic and industry, is being digitized, diversified, and updated to reflect the new needs and expectations of consumers. It examines how user friendly apps, new financial practices, and intentionally democratized systems allow a wider and more diverse consumer set to strategically invest, build, and protect their finances. It brings to light how tech-centered offerings, combined with treating consumers as individuals with nuanced financial needs, can provide established and new-to-banking customers with much desired ease, understanding, and opportunity.
Published December 2020
Demonstrating shared values with their customers by investing in the social impact and environmental initiatives and offering customers a way to directly influence which initiatives the brand supports.Dynamic Loyalty
Retailers and brands are rewarding their loyalty program members for a range of actions beyond making a purchase, encouraging ongoing engagement and advocacy at every touchpoint. Leveraging data collected through their loyalty programs, brands are moving away from purely transactional offers or difficult points-based systems toward recommendation-laden options that encourage customers to make repeat purchases and nurture long-term brand loyalty. This can look like creating a mobile app payment ecosystem that provides personalized discounts, as well as offering smaller rewards more frequently to spur ongoing engagement.Fluid Identity
Gen Z resist restrictive labels and are instead embracing fluidity when it comes to all aspects of their identity—gender, sexuality and personal brand. Not only are they breaking down binary norms and pushing for equality and inclusivity, they are also shattering boundaries when it comes to the things they consume, such as music and fashion that moves fluidly between genres and defies categorization.Inclusive Design
Forward-thinking brands and retailers are responding to consumer demands for inclusivity and creating a powerful new paradigm that celebrates all customers. From broadening product ranges to accommodate all consumers' needs and preferences to designing store experiences that are accessible to all levels of ability, retailers are driving value and engagement with their customer base by widening the relevance and applicability of their brands and merchandise.
Public, a community-based investing app, aims to empower everyday consumers to feel informed and confident in their investing endeavors. Through the app, users can openly discuss ideas and business news they encounter, as well as access educational options to guide them in their financial decisions. To proactively support its users in making productive investments, the app labels any stocks that are considered questionable or downright risky by the SEC with Safety Labels, and organizes its stocks into digestible themes, so users can decide the fields to dedicate their funds to.US Bank's voice-powered AI offers virtual assistance with a personal feel
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Understanding the many barriers to entry that can often prevent potential first-time home buyers from beginning the process, Nude is an in-development app dedicated to helping increase approachability and fairness in the field. Users of the app will set goals for the type of house they want to be able to purchase, and the timeframe in which they’d like to be able to do so. Through personalized spending insights and deposit-boosting recommendations, the app helps first-time home buyers feel informed and guided, without feeling judged or overwhelmed—and eventually, assists them in achieving their individual dreams.Cred.ai’s Unicorn Card provides trustworthy banking experience
Fintech startup cred.ai has launched a new banking platform aimed to provide opportunity and a trustworthy banking experience to younger or new-to-banking consumers who are either intimidated or skeptical of traditional processes. Through the new app and card they’ve deemed the “Unicorn Visa Card,” users have access to the Credit Optimizer tool, which touts the ability to help users build and optimize credit quickly. To mediate some of consumers biggest concerns with regards to big brand banking, credit.ai has focused its efforts on minimizing confusion and increasing transparency. From self-destructing virtual cards usable in potentially risky transactions, to allowing consumers to manage merchants permissions themselves, credit.ai empowers users to take control of their finances and credit.