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Industry insights

What does Generation Z expect from banking?

Ondřej Slivka
min read

Line-up for a panel discussion on the topic of The Future of Banking: Gen Z

Gen Z, also known as post-millennials, is the demographic cohort following the millennial generation and preceding the generation currently referred to as "Alpha." Born between 1997 and 2012, Gen Z is the first generation to have grown up with widespread access to the internet and smartphones, leading to significant changes in the way they engage with the world around them.

As a result, Gen Z finance looks very different from traditional banking and financial services.

"63% of Gen Z respondents said they preferred to do their banking online or through a mobile app, while only 37% preferred to visit a physical bank branch"

National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA)

This highlights the importance of digital and mobile banking for Gen Z customers, and the need for financial institutions to invest in these channels to effectively engage with younger generations.

What are the emerging trends in Gen Z banking?

  1. Mobile banking and digital payments: Gen Z is the first generation to have grown up with smartphones, so it's no surprise that they prefer using mobile banking and digital payment apps over traditional banking methods.
  2. Sustainable and socially responsible investing: Gen Z is known for being more socially and environmentally conscious than previous generations. As a result, they may prioritize investing in companies that align with their values and contribute to social and environmental causes.
  3. Cryptocurrency: Gen Z has shown interest in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, with many seeing it as a way to take control of their financial future and avoid traditional financial institutions.
  4. Personal finance management: Gen Z is more financially savvy than previous generations and may prioritize personal finance management tools such as budgeting apps and Robo-advisors to help them manage their money.
  5. Peer-to-peer lending: Gen Z may be more open to alternative lending options such as peer-to-peer lending, where individuals can borrow and lend money directly to each other without the involvement of a traditional financial institution.

One of the most successful use cases for Gen Z finance to date has been the proliferation of mobile payment apps and peer-to-peer (P2P) payment platforms. These platforms allow users to easily and securely transfer money to one another using their smartphones, making it easier for Gen Z to manage their finances on the go.

On the other hand, untapped potentials in the Gen Z finance space include the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to personalize financial products and services, and the integration of financial education and planning tools into mainstream banking platforms. There is also a significant opportunity for financial institutions to leverage social media and other digital channels to reach and engage with younger customers.

In conclusion, must-haves for Gen Z customers include easy and convenient access to financial products and services, transparent and fair pricing, and a strong focus on digital and mobile banking.

What players are on the market?

There are several major players in the Gen Z finance industry, including traditional banks and financial institutions as well as fintech firms. Some examples of traditional banks that have successfully adapted to the needs of Gen Z customers include Bank of America, which has developed a range of digital and mobile banking solutions and offers financial education resources for younger customers, and Wells Fargo, which has launched a mobile banking app specifically for Gen Z customers. Fintech firms have also made significant inroads in the Gen Z finance space, with companies like W1tty, GoHenryMyMonii, and Lunar leading the way.

From Z to A: The New Battleground of Neobanks & FinTechs by Whitesight

So why do banks don’t take advantage?

There could be a variety of reasons why banks may not be taking full advantage of Gen Z banking. Some possible reasons include:

  1. Lack of understanding: Banks may not fully understand the preferences and needs of Gen Z customers, leading them to miss opportunities to serve this demographic.
  2. Limited digital capabilities: Some banks may not have fully embraced digital banking technology, which may make it difficult for them to attract and retain Gen Z customers who are used to using mobile banking and digital payment apps.
  3. Slow to adapt to change: Financial institutions, including banks, can sometimes be slow to adapt to new technologies and changing customer preferences. This may make it challenging for them to keep up with the evolving needs of Gen Z.
  4. Competition from fintech firms: Fintech firms, which are often more agile and digitally focused, may be better equipped to meet the needs of Gen Z customers. This may make it more challenging for traditional banks to compete in this space.
  5. Regulatory constraints: Banks may be limited in their ability to offer certain products or services due to regulatory constraints, which may make it more difficult for them to attract Gen Z customers.

A possible approach to Gen Z product development

"When we talk about product development, it's just a really good product mentality you need, right? And I think what we try and do differently than, then what has been done before is before you'd say, Oh, they want a loan, how does competitor A, B, C do loans, let's do the same! Whereas I think what we try and do is spend more time in the problem space, we learn what competitors A, B, C, and D are doing the right way to actually solve that problem, rather than just copying that product."

- Rasmus Lindegaard, Vertical Lead Wealth & Marketplace at Lunar

See the full recording

The panel ended on a truly positive note

At the end of the panel, the speakers were asked to share a "fuck-up" or failure from their fintech journey. Louise Ferslev mentioned a funny story about shareholders' agreement during the start of MyMonii. However, the panel ended on a positive note with a mental health message from Mira El Harake, Deputy CEO at W1tty:

"I don't really want to share a fuck-up, I just want to give advice to people working in FinTech. It's very easy to forget to focus on yourself, regardless of whether it's a FinTech job or any type of job. So please remember that mental health is really important. Believe me, you do not want to burn out. It's one of the things we see a lot these days, people giving it up because they can't take it anymore. So please, everyone, take care and remember that almost everything is fixable. Don't worry about that job or that boss you hate, or your colleagues you don't want to deal with today. Just relax, take a day off, go to some yoga, walk with your dog, see your friends and family, and just take it one day at a time."

About author

Ondřej Slivka

Senior insider

A seasoned B2B marketing enthusiast with 5+ years of experience sharing insights in the world of digital banking and fintech. My passion lies in crafting innovative strategies and engaging content that delivers desired results.

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