Green Dot is looking to leverage its prepaid user base to drive customer acquisition at GoBank, its mobile-first bank account in 2015, to the turn of an internal target of 1 million new banking customers annually.
This strategy turns the traditional banking model precisely on its head, but what would you expect from the company that claims to have started the prepaid phenomenon in the first place?
In yesterday’s fourth-quarter-2014 earnings call, Green Dot CEO and President Steve Streit set out growth goals for GoBank and discussed the importance of Walmart to the GoBank brand. In short, Green Dot’s plans for GoBank are ambitious, and Streit took pains to say that the product has a life of its own outside Walmart’s walls.
GoBank is a hit, Streit said yesterday, but needs more customers. Per Seeking Alpha:
Monthly deposits to the account, for example, grew by 600% over that 90-day period in Q4, and spend to the GoBank debit card over the same period grew by almost 1,000%. Of course, we’re still a small base with GoBank, but this is indicative of the product’s appeal.
Revenue per account per month is also looking strong with lifetime revenue per GoBank account expected to be multiples of our prepaid card product. The only significant challenge with GoBank is that we need to increase the number of new enrollments. With a 6-figure annualized new account enrollment rate now, which is very good for a new bank account product as a sense of perspective, very few banks would issue that many new checking accounts in the year. But it’s small relative to Green Dot’s millions of prepaid cards issued annually. So one of our goals for GoBank is to increase our enrollment number to a 7-figure run rate by yearend.
In other words, GoBank is gaining customers at a rate of at least 100,000 per year, but plans to grow that to at least 1 million per annum by the end of 2015.
GoBank contributes little to Green Dot Corp.’s overall revenue — less than 20%, Streit said — but with GoBank accounts expected to be longer-lived and ultimately more valuable than Green Dot prepaid accounts, it would make sense for the company to, over time, push Green Dot users into GoBank accounts.
But is there overlap between the two customer bases? Yes and no. In the past, Streit drew a rather sharp line between them, but now, with GoBank starter kits appearing next to Green Dot cards on the shelf at Walmart, that line is blurred. Note the qualification Streit gave when describing the account yesterday:
But GoBank attracts a different kind of a customer. It’s a millennial, it’s a technology customer, it’s also a low and moderate-income customer who looks at it too as a really a good-quality, inexpensive checking account.
Streit also took pains to say, more than once, that GoBank is not just another product on the shelf at Walmart but has other acquisition channels:
I just got another wonderful review from Consumer Reports that I think will help drive online acquisitions and app store acquisition. It’s a really cool account. So it isn’t a question of how much can we sell on a rack in a Walmart versus prepaid. It’s how many folks can we attract to try this product in all of the country. Walmart being a big part of that, but also all kinds of media. And so that number I gave you — I didn’t mean to say that Walmart itself, as a retailer, within its four walls, would sell a run rate of 1 million account by the end of the year. It refers to the product called GoBank through all the acquisition channels combined.
Green Dot also has non-Walmart marketing in mind for GoBank related to money centers and tax season, according to Streit.
GoBank had an interesting 2014. It disappeared for a while, accepting no new customers for much of the year, then reappearing only as a start kit sold at Walmart for $2.95, very much like a prepaid card. In December, this Walmart exclusivity ended, and once again, the company is talking app stores and millennials.
The Walmart relationship is crucial to Green Dot — its scale is unparalleled, but it squeezes margins mercilessly — and Streit did not deny that. But it is clear that just as the company diversified beyond prepaid with the acquisition of a bank in 2011, it is now looking to put some space between itself and Walmart.
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