Sure we’re not that popular with baby boomers, but just wait ’til they try us, say fintechs
Link copied to
It’s a common stereotype that baby boomers are not good with technology and millennials are. But compare the respective market opportunities these demographics represent to fintechs and it’s the wrong way around.
According to the Grattan Institute, wealth owned by Australian households under 35 has stagnated for 15 years but a household headed by someone 65-75 has grown by 44 per cent.
In other words, they are a far wealthier generation than millennials (for now) and are greater spenders. This poses a substantial opportunity for them.
You might be forgiven for thinking fintechs are ignoring baby boomers because more effort may need to be made into training them up. But fintechs are seeing the light and are capitalising.
Simon Lyons, managing director of BNK Bank (ASX:BBC) is one fintech CEO who is doing this. His company was formed from the merger of Goldfields Money and Finsure Group. He has said BNK aims to be “the bank for enterprising Australians”.
“Millennials are good consumers of bank tech but don’t make any money for the banks until they start borrowing,” he told Stockhead.
He admitted to having some baby boomers as customers but they were behind millennials at taking up BNK’s tech-powered services.
“[There are] lots of small [baby boomer] customers but not a big amount of total dollars in aggregate.
“Our older customer base has been slow to take up things like Apple Pay and Google Pay.
“However, this is not a good cross section of baby boomers as our ‘historic’ customer base has largely come from the Goldfields in Western Australia and they are very ‘old school’.
“Many still use cheque books and visit the two remaining branches we have weekly for cash rather than using the ATMs.”
Another fintech that wants more baby boomers is buy now, pay later stock Sezzle (ASX:SZL) which listed in late July and doubled on its first day.
“People are living longer, [leading] more active lives. Enabling older generations to utilise the full-breadth of innovative solutions in the fintech world should be a guiding principle for every company in the payments arena,” CEO Charlie Youakim told Stockhead.
Fellow buy now pay later stock Zip (ASX:Z1P) has only 6 per cent of its users above 55.
While Zip’s founder and CEO Larry Diamond told Stockhead his company was not specifically targeting baby boomers he was not excluding them either.
“We want to help all customers that are looking for better, fairer ways to access credit and avoid the unfriendly credit card route,” he said.
“We have, and will continue to see people of a wide range of age groups making the most of our products.”
One reason is that they prefer face-to-face experiences. One of the selling points of fintechs to investors is they lack legacy technology systems, therefore giving them an advantage over existing banks even if they claim to be catching up.
This has been proven to work with investors, a case in point being neobanks such as Xinja raising millions of dollars.
But could the move away from bricks-and-mortar banking be costing them lucrative customers? A recent survey by e-commerce company Salesfloor found 84 per cent of boomers preferred instore experiences.
Why? Because they have high expectations of customer service and don’t think it will be replicated online. Simon Lyons told Stockhead visiting branches was “like a social outing for them”.
For buy now, pay later companies, this might be an easy problem to solve — roll it out in store. But for online-only companies such as neobanks this will be a challenge.
Nevertheless, Salesfloor’s survey found 66 per cent of the boomers regularly made purchases via web devices.
Another reason for the slow uptake among boomers could be that younger generations just aren’t spreading the word. Fintechs want this to change.
“Our studies show time and time again that the most effective marketing of Sezzle is ‘word-of-mouth’ – people who try the product tend to love it and recommend it to others,” said Sezzle’s Charlie Youakim.
“We think that the younger generations that we most heavily target, namely Millennials and Generation Zeds, can effectively become trusted brand ambassadors to their parents, grandparents, and older work colleagues and other older Americans.
“We feel that Sezzle will increasingly become a trusted brand among older generations as younger consumers begin sharing its benefits with older consumers.”
Salesfloor’s survey again found this will be a challenge because only 12 per cent look to family and friends for buying advice.
But once they learn to trust others’ advice and how these fintechs work, BNK’s Simon Lyons told Stockhead he believes one word will be key to converting them. Convenience.