Why Pinterest Should Matter to Banks

  • Mary Wisniewski
  • February 13, 2012
  • 4

This is part of a two-part exploration of the banking implications of Pinterest, the fastest-growing independent website in history. See JJ’s take here.


I’m the type of person that can be as easily persuaded to go trapezing on a Thursday night as much I can be influenced to hit up the bingo circuit. My main decision-making criteria? As long as an experience is somewhat fresh, I can’t resist it, because I like being shaken out of my daily routine to discover new things, people or places.

Since I’m drawn to discoveries and new stuff, Pinterest, a social content curation service, is a website that appeals to me for just this reason and one which I think should appeal to banks, too. Why? The website helps people like myself discover things they may not have even known they wanted to find, which has major implications for commerce, and with it, payments.

At its core, Pinterest is an online window shopping experience that is influencing the way in which people shop. From style trends to cake decorating, Pinterest can potentially link consumers to their new favorite boutiques, blogs or restaurants and boost sales for merchants. And that’s what is key when banks are reviewing how the new consumer site may impact them, too.

Though we are sure institutions can use Pinterest, which already boasts millions of users, to do some promotional branding things too, let’s be real: banks are not very visually stimulating and that is the first tenant of using Pinterest effectively — the visual matters. The real potential of the site for banks is finding ways in which they can potentially participate in the transactions made, or at the very least, staying tuned into how the site is shifting how consumers shop.

Sure, we go to Google when we know what we want to buy to find an item online. But Pinterest can also help shape how we find something we didn’t even know we were looking for, which is sort of what Groupon did years ago when it transformed the way in which retailers can market their services. Groupon helped — and helps — consumers discover things to buy, while also creating a new payment form, its coupon. Similarly, Pinterest has the potential to innovate how retailers collect more customers simply by exposing people to their goods, and banks should find a way to get involved in the discovery shopping process.

For months now, financial players have debated the ways in which issuers can destroy Groupon and we – for the most part – agree. Already financial institutions have been falling for the possibilities of innovations in shopping, especially through the play of merchant-funded rewards. However, what issuers haven’t been able to do well yet is offer coupons that inspire people to buy new things, as they are targeting discounts and deals to consumers based off of their transactions. Because deals are “relevant,” the discovery element is no longer part of the package. Potentially, Pinterest could help fill in this void for banks. Certainly, when digital wallets take off in the U.S., they too will help lure new customers into retailers doors. But that “future” is still years off while Pinterest is already changing the way people look for things they want online.

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Mary joined the Bank Innovation team in 2011 and serves as its editor, blogger and content curator. She covers the commerce, fintech and small business beats. She also oversees RMG’s custom publications, manages the freelancing team and contributes stories for the media company’s print publications. Prior to working at RMG, Mary was the fashion editor at National Jeweler magazine, where she contributed, among other things, coverage of international jewelry shows, Fashion Week, rising gold prices, bloody Burmese gemstones and a Bill Clinton watch junket. Her written work has also appeared in Cracked, Billboard and a number of fashion blogs and business publications. Mary has a BA in Journalism from Pepperdine University in Malibu. She grew up on a dirt road in the suburbs of Detroit and currently lives in New York with two roommates, a record player, an espresso machine and a toy poodle. Mary is endlessly curious and follows anything that grabs her. Current interests include literature, anthropology, travel, essays and fashion. She is fond of good conversation, oceans, startups, dandyism, coffee, cemeteries, Cat Stevens, Gregor von Rezzori, Oscar Wilde and Gidget.

4 thoughts on “Why Pinterest Should Matter to Banks

  1. I am glad to see that congress is looking at the proposed bailout plan with a wary eye. Spending $700 billion in taxpayer money to bailout private institutions warrants a hard look and very tough questions. The very people who are the root cause of the problem are seeking release when we must make provisions for the victims of this fiasco, the homeowners who are stuck with these terrible mortgages and still face foreclosure. If we do not act prudently now and get it right we will be faced with a disaster of cataclysmic dimension down the road. To my way of thinking, bailing out people who make 8 figures is inherently wrong. Congress has every right and should be very sure on the details before they pull the trigger on this. The corporate culture that stopped looking at people as customers and started looking at them as prey has got to be changed, for good.

  2. They should use Znak it! to Pin it! 🙂

  3. You ought to take part in a contest for one of the best sites on the net.
    I will highly recommend this web site!

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