Banking for the Millenial: Something to do not somewhere you go

May 30, 2017 By: Waceke Nduati Omanga

I was recently invited to a bank product launch and it struck me how banking has evolved. Let’s look at two scenarios.

Lucy is 48 years old.  Her introduction to banking was when she got her first job.  She physically went to the bank, filled in copious amounts of paper work and signed onto many terms she did not understand. After this process that felt, more like applying for a visa, rather than her giving the bank her funds for safe keeping, she was then awarded a bank account number.  Weeks later she got her first transactional instrument by mail.  The cheque book.  Then she went back filled in another form so that a debit card could then be sent back to her.  For Lucy, the bank has been somewhere to go. For years, end month or pay day meant physically going to the bank to do the necessary transactions.  To pay the landlord, put money in savings, make relevant transfers to pay school fees, move money into various investments, send money to her parents etc.  And if she was not going to the bank it still meant carving out time to write cheques to various people or going to the ATM just to withdraw funds and/or confirm her account balance.  As much as technology has found her she is still slower to completely adapt given how she started off her relationship with banking.

Meanwhile her nephew Tom is 25 years old and has just gotten employed. He decided to open an account with his employers bank so that money can be available faster. Tom has not physically left his desk to do this. The account was activated online and he received a phone call just to clarify some details. He pays a lot of his bills through mobile money. He also has the ability to pull funds from his account, go hang out, pay standard bills, send money to other people buy airtime. He can even apply and receive small loans through his mobile money account. Tom has been given a debit card that is still awaiting collection. He does not have a cheque book but this has not stopped him from banking. Tom will never experience banking like Lucy does. For Tom banking is something you do, not a place you go to. The phone is the instrument of banking for his generation and not the cheque book. It’s about using applications and not queuing in a line. It’s mobile money transactions and not an ATM. Banking is something he combines with things like catching up with friends on social media and reading blogs.  He has never experienced banking as an activity that requires pre planned time. Tom has never known banking to be anything other than a convenient activity. Welcome to the new bank customer. Banking is to Tom and many others an experience they have, something they do and not a place they go.

Waceke is the founder of Centonomy. Twitter@cekenduati|Facebook/Waceke Nduat| Email waceken@centonomy.com