The Customer Effect

Inside Finn, Chase’s millennial-minded mobile app

  • JPMorgan Chase launched Finn, a digital-only bank geared at millennials who don't want to go to brick-and-mortar branches.
  • The product has features that help customers think about what motivates their spending in an effort to help them develop better money habits.
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Inside Finn, Chase’s millennial-minded mobile app

JPMorgan Chase is not the only bank going after millennials, but its approach to get them onto mobile banking has an added twist —  an appeal to their emotions.

The bank launched Finn by Chase this week, a standalone app that offers digital-only checking and savings accounts, along with features to help customers save. But what’s different from traditional mobile banking products is its capability to let customers add thoughts and feelings about purchases, with the hopes that they will use those insights to make better decisions.

“What we heard [from prospective customers] was ‘I want to feel more in control of my money,’ and money is really emotional for these customers,” said Matt Gromada, managing director of digital product strategy and product development at JPMorgan Chase. “[Money] makes them feel scared, embarrassed, stressed and happy — and we thought, how do we increase the happy?”

For now, Finn is only available to customers in the St. Louis area, a region where Chase has hundreds of thousands of customers but no brick-and-mortar branches. The bank is testing the app with customers there and did not pinpoint a timeframe for the length of the pilot.

Customers using their Finn accounts to make purchases have the option of sharing their their feelings about a purchase through emojis (happy, sad or meh), and can swipe that emoji up or down to classify each purchase as a “want” or “need.” Over time, customers will be able to access reports about what motivated their spending habits and what they spent their money on. Finn also lets customers deposit checks, send peer-to-peer payments through Zelle, and automatically save towards predefined goals.

While machine learning and artificial intelligence-powered tools are not part of Finn’s initial release, a Chase spokeswoman told Tearsheet that the bank is considering incorporating them as the app evolves.
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“One thing we heard [from prospective customers] was that they didn’t want to be judged,” said Gromada. “We found that spending was very specific to the individual and very subjective; for example, Starbucks may be a want for you but a need for me.”

Gromada said the product, which was developed entirely in-house, was the result of 15 months of one-on-one interviews with prospective customers across the U.S. on what they would like to see in a mobile banking app. Aside from the lack of a branch footprint, Chase said it’s using St. Louis as a testing ground because of its diverse population and large student and millennial population. Finn won’t charge customers monthly fees and its customers will be able to access 29,000 ATMs without paying a fee.

Chase joins a league of banks folding personal finance management (PFM) features into mobile banking experiences, offering customers opportunities to access budgeting and insights features within their mobile banking apps. This puts them in direct competition with third-party apps, but also represents an evolution of mobile banking from a tool to check balances to one that offers actionable insights on a customer’s financial life. And it can help banks tailor future product suggestions for consumers.

“PFM is the future of mobile banking — now we’re turning information into recommendations, and turning recommendations into action,” said Martin Häring, CMO of banking technology company Finastra. “From the bank’s perspective, the bank can now combine data and transactions and all the things the customer does with the PFM [tools] and predict customer behavior and maybe even suggest new products for the customer.”

 

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