There is a new challenger bank in town, and yes, it is planning on launching with physical branches.
The newcomer, U.K.-based iam bank, will launch later this year with both prime digital tools—mobile offerings, machine learning algorithms, and chatbots—as well as with real, touchable bank branches, specifically tailored to appeal to the millennial consumer base.
Which brings us to the big question: why?
It turns out that no one really wants to give up the bank branch—not even the digital natives, according to Simona Stankovska, head of communication for iam bank.
“We found that there’s a lot of distrust around the digital position,” Stankovska told Bank Innovation, citing the results of market research conducted by iam bank. Stankovska added that consumers, “especially millennials, want that human touch.”
The bank is scheduled to open its first branch, or “experience center,” in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, launching in Sept. 2017.
Lee Travers, CEO of iam bank, told Bank Innovation:
We are re configuring the banking model, because our research shows that consumers need assurance and confidence when it comes to choosing who they bank with. Digital challenger banks don’t seem to instill this confidence in consumers and have therefore not built up a big customer base.
We are hoping that our hybrid model will give consumers the surety that they require, combined with an evolutionary digital solution that they can integrate into their everyday lives – Something that will genuinely help to improve their financial health.
iam is focused on creating a tech-heavy “community” experience, where customers will have the ability to FaceTime bank advisors, interface with other technologies, or come in to the branch just for networking events. The thought is to create the “Apple Store” of banking, according to Stankovska.
In terms of products, the bank plans to offer a cashback program in partnership with retailers, where users will gain 3% to 20% cashback on each purchase (depending on the agreement reached with the retailer) made via the customer’s iam bank debit card, powered by Mastercard. Its bank accounts come equipped with “state of the art” machine learning algorithms, allowing users to keep track of their spend.
Reflected in both the bank’s upcoming branches and digital products is a focus on financial literacy; iam bank will offer financial education courses on its website, where users can earn rewards points for completing a course. Those points can then be turned into account credit (for any account the user holds, not merely for iam bank accounts). Users will also be able to utilize the bank’s “version of Siri,” which the bank is terming EMMA, on the site to ask financial questions, .
“We’re going to invest in you before you invest in us,” Stankovska said of the offering, noting that EMMA will go live on the company’s site next month. “We’re really passionate about helping people be better with their money.”
iam bank’s goal is to sign 200,000 customers on its site by its launch in September.9 - Readers Like This Post