If it’s uppermost in the Millennial’s Mind —
Absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder.

Millennials are hungry for sound financial knowledge, now more than ever. But are banks delivering on expectations? Today more Millennials favour search engines over financial advisors than any other generation according to a Zurich UK poll.  The challenge lies in search engines not offering specific information tailored to every Millennial’s individualistic needs. Hence when Millennials cite a lack of confidence in their own abilities to sort out their financial futures, banks need to wake up to this opportunity and be that reason for them to seek out professional help.

According to Deloitte, 57% would compromise on the relationship with their bank for a better technology experience. Millennials are looking up to digital technologies come together and be that financial guide — one that speaks to them, in their language, as they flip through it with one single-minded goal: Mastering Financial Literacy. The responsibility of today’s banks is to offer such platforms to put the Millennial’s financial well-being on top of their agendas. Let’s look at what today’s banks are doing to address their financial goals.

HSBC’s Aggregator App for Open Banking

Open banking would shake up banking as we know it. With Europe gearing up for PSD2 by January 2018, banks are getting ready to open up their customer accounts to third-party providers. Customers must be placed at the centre of the value chain and business models need to evolve to keep pace with the new regulatory requirements. HSBC aimed to do this with their new account aggregator app to gain an early mover advantage with the forthcoming open banking norms.

“Customers now bank at home, on the bus, at work and even in bed, but managing money is still too often a complex and complicated task,” says Becky Moffat, Head of Personal Banking at HSBC. They are taking a mobile-first banking approach with a single app that can aggregate upto 21 different bank accounts like Bank of America, Barclays and Lloyds. The app simplifies money management with a unified visualization of assets and liabilities. It would be interesting to see how Millennials can work towards their financial goals with this one app.

A Hoot-Sweet Experience?

The CEO of Qvivr that launched Hoot, Ashutosh Dhodapkar says Millennial attitudes towards banking are that of a general mistrust after the financial crisis. According to him, 63% of Millennials don’t own a credit card and use debit cards as their primary payment mechanism which depicts this mistrust.  But Millennials don’t want to bank like everyone else with their debit cards. This is exactly what Hoot is hoping to achieve with its new debit card that contains a slew of distinctive experiential features to set it apart.

Hoot comes with a small screen that is tethered by Bluetooth to the customer’s app and a companion’s app. In the social-sharing age of Facebook and Instagram, it allows the user to transpose an image onto the card. It also has a physical button that displays the customer’s bank balance along with expenditure patterns and timely financial tips. Would this product launch be successful? Resemblances with Coin, a smartcard startup aimed to store credit cards, membership cards and loyalty cards comes to mind. This was marred by poor performance as the card failed at POS terminals and stumbled along the way. Just as Coin re-emerged with version 2.0, it would be interesting to see if Hoot would make its mark in the debit card market.

Amex Paints the Town Cobalt

American Express conducted a study that found over half of Canadian Millennials spend close to 24% of their monthly income dining out. Also, 70% of Millennials travel overnight at least two times a year. Even on a tight budget over one-third are not willing to forego on travel or dining out. At a time like this, American Express launched their Cobalt Card rewarding card members on food, travel and entertainment.

The Cobalt Card serves as a boost to the rewards earning power with a 5X accelerator on a variety of eligible eats and drinks, and a 2X accelerator on eligible travel through different modes of transport.  This aligns squarely with the financial priorities of Millennials in travel and dining. With 76% of Millennials stating that they collect reward points during payments, according to the same Amex survey, it’s a move we can closely follow.

Santander Bank Prospers and Thrives

Some tap into financial micro-moments, others create them in a Millennial’s journey. Santander Bank is creating such micro-moments with a Millennial-focused Content hub Prosper & Thrive. A multitude of content types are present in the microsite including infographics, blog posts and listicles that cover a range of topics like saving, expenditure, and debt management. There’s nothing like a great piece of Content that connects with a Millennial who is interested in a general financial education.


“The result is a diverse collection of material that enables us to authentically speak to our audience by demonstrating that we respect the different needs, priorities and stages in their banking journey,” says Kalish, CMO at Santander Bank. How do they measure the ROI of Prosper & Thrive? It’s a combination of the awareness metric, perception, brand sentiment and NPS. Quantifying success has also helped them win a prestigious award from the Content Marketing Institute.

Final Thoughts

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step in the right direction. The direction that Banks and FinTechs must take is educating the Millennial with baby steps to eventually take the leap forward in their financial journey. While HSBC’s aggregator app lets the Millennial know of their financial status and where their money is going, it needs to build an incremental approach for Millennials to realize where they need to put their money. Hoot and Amex use technology to offer a differentiated and rewarding experience but it’s important to first define those experiences and moments of truth for Millennials to discover.

Having grown up in a world filled with financial uncertainty, Millennials want to secure their future with constant guidance and affirmation. Santander Bank’s award-winning Prosper & Thrive gets it right as it establishes the dots to connect in a Millennial’s life-defining every dot that’s uppermost in the Millennial’s mind to boost financial literacy, and eventually connecting it to build financial well-being. Banks must realize that the absence of initiatives directed towards their financial well-being doesn’t make the Millennial’s heart grow fonder. This is the heart of the matter.