Path to growth

Jenius Bank reached $1 billion in deposits before its first anniversary. Here’s how the sidecar brand did it.

  • Jenius Bank reached $1 billion in deposits before its first year anniversary.
  • We spoke with President John Rosenfeld to unpack the strategies and actions SMBC MANUBANK's sidecar digital brand took to reach this milestone.

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Jenius Bank reached $1 billion in deposits before its first anniversary. Here’s how the sidecar brand did it.

In May, Jenius Bank reached $1 billion in deposits for its high-yield savings product less than a year in market.

The new digital division of SMBC MANUBANK, Jenius Bank’s digital banking business launched in the summer of 2023 and has experienced growth across both its products — savings and lending — currently in market.

How did Jenius reaching $1 billion in deposits and over $700 million in loans before its first anniversary?

We spoke with Jenius Bank President John Rosenfeld to get some insights on its growth strategy and execution.

  1. Keep the consumer top of mind
    • Understand your customer: Jenius Bank uses a consumer research program that allows the firm to pinpoint how best to serve its customers. “We leverage this feedback to directly inform our product strategy,” said Rosenfeld.
    • Build products that provide impact: When building the bank’s Savings product, Rosenfeld said they realized that Americans are missing out on billions of dollars they could be earning with a better rate. So, Jenius leads with its high-interest savings proposition to align itself with its customers — that it’s helping to ensure that customers’ hard-earned money grows at an accelerated pace in this uncertain economy. 
    • Recognize that customers hold multiple accounts: The high-yield savings space is crowded with lots different options. Strategically, Jenius recognizes that its customers often hold accounts with multiple banks for various purposes, like saving for an emergency or a car. By offering a market-leading rate, the firm is targeting Americans’ savings accounts.
  2. Foster customer experiences:
    • Design omnichannel journeys: Regardless of where an individual begins their customer experience journey – phone, chat or email – Jenius Bank syncs their experience across all platforms. “We pride ourselves on creating immersive and engaging omni-channel experiences that cater to our customers’ needs, and this personalization creates value in the eyes of our customers,” said Rosenfeld.
    • Be efficient vs. costly: Rosenfeld likes to say the bank’s “human-centric model runs on efficiency, not fees.” This positions the bank more closely alongside better customer outcomes. Banks don’t have to make money from customer mistakes and can instead have a business model that wins when customers win.
    • Invest in phone support: Jenius offer 24/7 customer service support, while other banks and neobanks don’t even list their phone numbers on their sites. “We want customers to reach out to us with their needs and concerns as we aim to humanize the digital banking landscape altogether. A great customer experience leads to great customer engagement, brand loyalty, and advocacy,” he said.
  3. Build fresh tech stack with resources of traditional owner
    • New but not really: Jenius Bank is a division of SMBC MANUBANK, which is an FDIC-insured bank that is a member of SMBC Group. SMBC Group is a global company with more than 400 years of history serving clients.
    • Use a startup mindset: Jenius tries to combine the best of both worlds. While it is connected to the legacy and balance sheet of its corporate owner, Rosenfeld says it operates with “a startup mindset that allows us to quickly innovate while having the infrastructure for long-term, sustainable growth.”
    • Present a brand with old ties: The sidecar brand also leverages its relationship with SMBC to instill confidence in consumers that it’s not just one of many digital banks that want a quick win to prove the concept has value. Jenius Bank is paired with SMBC’s 400 years of history to create long-term, sustainable growth, to communicate it’s here to stay. As part of a global organization, Rosenfeld says Jenius Bank is able to launch products in a compressed timeframe, building customer trust. In addition, the opportunities created by Jenius Bank have attracted of top talent in the digital bank sector.

What advice would Rosenfeld give to traditional banks looking to stand up a new digital brand or digital products?

Keep the customer top of mind. Customers today have so many banking options at their fingertips. No matter how great a company’s product or offering is, how well you market those products, or how much you try to engage with your target customers, only an excellent customer experience will encourage them to engage with your brand. Creating personalized banking experiences may take more time and effort, but the return on investment is worth it in the long run,” he said.

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