Fintech companies use holidays to push product usage

Holiday mall photo by Heidi Sandstrom on Unsplash

The holiday season comes with extra expenses for consumers, and financial companies want to help customers budget.

While these efforts highlight financial planning and education, they also serve an important business objective, which is to increase user adoption and engagement on platforms.

Peer-to-peer payments network Zelle, which has been active in elevating its brand to consumers, is emphasizing opportunities to split payments and pay for gifts as part of a group. The bank-backed network carried out a survey which reported that highlighted the high proportion of consumers (43%) that worry about paying for gifts. It recommended some techniques to save, which predictably involved using Zelle as a budget planning tool.

“Splitting the cost of a gift can help consumers stick to their budgets this season, alleviating the emotional and financial stress the holidays can place on consumers,” the report suggested. “Get a group together, agree on a budget, and send money with Zelle to a designated ‘team captain’ who will help coordinate the group gift.”

Meanwhile, challenger banks are offering a mixture of financial advice and holiday incentives. SoFi, which two years ago ran holiday circulars in newspapers highlighting the necessity to budget, is focusing on making its financial advisers available to customers. Challenger bank MoneyLion is offering customers holiday referral bonuses and chances to win cash prizes.

“Most people will go into holiday [mode] — not only shopping, but travel and social outings — without a budget,” Lauren Anastasio, a certified financial planner on the advice team at SoFi explained.

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To financial marketers, the holidays help banks and fintech companies rachet up product usage with educational messages and rewards.

Brian Reilly, digital marketing strategist at Philadelphia-based financial marketing firm BankBound, noted that it makes sense for fintech companies to promote their financial wellness services because they have the tools to back up their promises.

“A lot of the fintech platforms have goal-based features — you can designate certain buckets for certain savings goals, and project how much money you need for retirement or a big purchase,” he explained. “[The educational messages] might pique someone’s curiosity to try out some these platforms.”

Others say holiday campaigns help engage current users. David Poole, who leads Publicis Sapient’s Financial Services Center of Excellence, noted that holiday marketing isn’t just about getting new users, but increasing activity and adoption of existing customers.

“The last thing anyone wants to think about during the holidays is money,” he said, in an email to Bank Innovation. “We want to think about family. But if [product marketing] is framed thoughtfully, it can be an enabler of family and fun.”

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