Financial institutions and social media companies go together like [insert your favorite alliterated pairing … or rama lamma lamma ka dinga da dinga dong]. Social media companies, in spite of their possible role as revolutionary vehicles (think Twitter and the Arab Spring) and decentralized platforms for social change (think Facebook and the Ice Bucket Challenge), are very much dependent upon standard bank services.
Both Facebook and Twitter have great need of bank services, for investments, employee payments, and offshore get-out-of-tax-free accounts, just to name a few.
Banks, on the flipside, cannot really get by without social media. Firstly, because by 2017 the world is expected to have 2.5 billion social media users, and banks won’t want to miss that branding and marketing opportunity. And it is a real opportunity: Avidia Bank, for example, found that its digital marketing strategy to promote smartphone cash withdrawal app ‘Cardless Cash’ led to a 13 percent increase in mobile app enrollments and an 83 percent positive user sentiment for Cardless Cash.
This interdependent love story between banks and social media platforms is being played out with Snapchat. Snapchat needs banks to lead its upcoming IPO. Meanwhile, banks are exploring exactly how they can benefit from being present on Snapchat. Bank of Ireland, for example, is using Irish Snapchat superstars to connect with younger customers, while JPMorgan Chase has experimented with the platform as a recruitment tool for millennial talent.
Not everything is peaches and cream up at the bank and social media villa, though. While banks might be ready to go steady, social media platforms are playing fast and loose when it comes to P2P payments. Millennials have the highest user rate of P2P payments (32 percent as opposed to 22 percent in the general U.S. public), and Facebook’s free P2P payment service is right at their fingertips.
While many banks are getting in the P2P payment game via clearXchange, millennials are already all over Facebook. A 2016 study by Ipsos found that 83 percent of men and 91 percent of women aged 20-35 in the U.S. have a Facebook account. And, like Facebook, Snapchat has its own free P2P payment service called Snapcash, powered not by a bank, but by Square.
Social media might be unfaithful to banks. Heck, these firms may be trying to become their own banks. But it seems unlikely that banks will ever give social media up, let them down, or run around and desert them. Why? Well, back to those 2.5 billion social media users. In terms of Snapchat, the statistic that really matters is that over 60 percent of U.S. 13- to 38-year-olds are Snapchat users.