The fintech strategies to steal

Article part of The Bank is Dead. Long Live Banking.

By Summer Yang, senior strategy manager, and Wallace Wong, senior UX designer, AnalogFolk Asia

Imagine paying for your Starbucks, settling your electricity bill and moving your spare change into a high-interest personal fund, all from within a single app. In China, banking has slipped into the everyday habits of millions. How?

China’s domestic internet finance industry has been growing at an exponential rate because it listens and learns from its market. It has just overtaken the US as the biggest fintech market in the world. There’s no legacy; it’s creating banking from the ground up. Rather than leading to exclusivity, technology has actually been the enabler that’s brought the next generation of banking services to the masses.

Here are six key strategies you can adopt to help your business do the same…

FOCUS ON A NEGLECTED DEMOGRAPHIC

A large proportion of China’s population falls into the low-income class, unable to meet the threshold for wealth management products offered by traditional banks. And, according to a survey by China’s Southwestern University of Finance & Economics, more than two-thirds of new investors are not high school graduates. So, there was a gap for a more inclusive finance system and Chinese tech giants were able to massively disrupt the existing industry. This phenomenon is not exclusive to China; there are demographics everywhere with banking needs not currently being met. Technology could be the catalyst that makes it possible to serve the largely under-served.

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MAKE IT SIMPLE

When you make investing simple, more people can invest. When Yu’e Bao (‘leftover treasure’) launched in 2013, it was hailed as the ‘fund for the masses’, because it lowered the barriers of entry. Yu’e Bao allowed Taobao (eBay equivalent) shoppers to invest the spare change in their Alipay (PayPal equivalent) wallets into an investment fund. This process takes no more than five clicks. Yu’e Bao now accounts for more than a third of China’s investment funds.

MAKE IT FAMILIAR

Look at the existing behaviour of your users and shape your offerings into familiar experiences. Free instant messaging app WeChat, or ‘micro messaging’ in Chinese, taps into its users’ cultural behaviours and offers a digital equivalent. The giving of money-filled red envelopes is a Chinese New Year tradition. In 2014, WeChat launched its Red Envelope feature during the New Year period, allowing users to send virtual red envelopes with money and a greeting attached. As its users flocked to use the feature, WeChat was able to kick-start its mobile payment service.

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MAKE IT SOCIAL

Popular activities usually have lively communities; investing needn’t be any different. A market is inherently social. Futu Niuniu, or ‘wealthy path of the bull’, is an app developed by Futu Securities, with investment from Tencent.

It was launched to satisfy the younger generation who wanted to invest abroad, but who don’t have the capital to open an investment account with a private bank. Futu created a hybrid platform to make stock trading a fun and social experience.

Users can buy and sell stocks, discuss their stock picks in message groups, and express daily profits through emojis and stickers. This leads to better user engagement and longer platform usage times.

DON’T MAKE IT TRIVIAL

Clumsy implementation of gamification can cause products to lose value and gain criticism. An example of this is the integration of a FarmVille-style game in the Futu Niuniu mobile trading platform.

In a virtual farm, you nurture a seed by watering it daily. You can invite stock trading friends to help with watering and fertilisation to speed up growth. When the plant matures, you can harvest it for a period of commission-free trading.

This gamification experience feels odd and disconnected. Businesses should only apply it in a way that feels right for the context — and make it genuinely useful.

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DON’T EXPLOIT HUMAN NATURE

Bear in mind that gamifying finance has its perils, as the combination of gaming and money can result in gambling. Futu’s achievement badges, daily missions and lucky draws encourage users to trade for the sake it. Instead, services should empower users to make informed decisions.

Many of China’s fintech strategies can be reapplied in other markets, because, ultimately, financial services should enrich users. Only if companies do that successfully will users return.

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