When I say…bank, what comes to mind?
A random WhatsApp survey, not scientific in anyway revealed that most people would default to the definition of financial institution as an organisation that accepts deposits from the public and creates avenues for consumption of credit based products or services. When challenged as to why they defaulted to this, the aggregate summarized response is best packaged by, money makes the world go round and banks are at the center of that universe, hence the top of mind awareness.
For those that indulged me further, I offered to explore different definitions and the uses of the word “bank”… and try frame their mind for what was to come next. Here goes!
A stock of something available for use when required – ‘a blood bank’;
Rely on confidently or base one’s hopes or confidence on – ‘I can bank on my friend Norman.’;
A mound, pile, or ridge raised above the surrounding level;
A protective or cushioning rim or piece.
I proceeded to ask which of the definitions including the first one that they had defaulted to, carried positive vibes and the coin dropped, for most at them at least.
The thing is this, the experience for most Kenyan’s with banking has been that of a necessary evil; never quite eliciting the type of emotion that is associated with having a solid friendship, the surety of a protective moat and reliable support for ones’ aspirations and lifestyle.
I opened my first “real” bank account in my mid-twenties while working in a “built from the ground” up startup, even before starting up became a thing, and the banking experience was marvelously awesome and seamless. The future of banking for my generation seemed to have taken a beautiful turn for the efficient, lifestyle size and relatable. The color, the perks, the convenience resonating well with whom I perceived myself to be and the journey into adulthood that I had charted out in my little red book. The product was aptly named…Move! One life one bank they said.
Then it died…word on the street was that it was growing faster than the parent brand had anticipated and was stealing its thunder. It had to be put down, and with it thousands of “me”, left disenfranchised and thrown back into the staleness of tradition; stiff, stodgy and dull.
Mobile money came soon after and value started flowing differently. Smart enough devices started gaining popularity. People started choosing different paths boldly, yet not much was done to try recreate the service nirvana that I had tasted years ago. An obvious opportunity in Generation Y whose upbringing “is generally marked by an increased use and familiarity with communications, media, and digital technologies plus a liberal approach to politics and economics”. Where freedom of expression and the hustle defining the daily grind of a cohort easily described as “special, sheltered, confident, team-oriented, conventional, pressured, and achieving” and the term “adult” is “based on certain personal abilities and characteristics rather than more traditional rites of passage.”
There have been many suitors to the millennial throne, trying to rush through the phases of brand love for financial products and services. While commerce powers our day to day, the relationships that inform these transactions cannot be ignored as they form the scaffolding of how we live and ultimately how we spend.
There’s a new service in town that has created quite the buzz and evoked a wave of nostalgia and freshness with its promise. I think I will give it a spin if perchance to experience what has been numbed through the years of boring banking.