Digital is the “now frontier” and everyone from the startup to the established juggernaut is trying to figure out the place and play of it all in their strategy. The financial services sector has for years been second only to government in the slothful uptake of any tradition breaking innovation, having been set in its ways for centuries. The growth in mobile connectivity and access to data, coupled with changing times have resulted in an active and discerning potential customer base that wants services done different and aligned with their lifestyle.
CBA Bank recently rolled out a new “lifestyle” banking service dubbed Loop in an effort to mop up the Gen-Y opportunity that has been up for the taking for a while now. The interface once logged onto the mobile app is fairly easy to understand with the expected defaults of Send Money, Pay Bill, Buy Goods and Loop Loan (last two not live yet) headlining the services.
While every other bank and gateway have an app or service that carries this function, Loop’s user interface and user experience is currently one of the best thought out. In one elegant screen, with I can quickly select my referred channel – To Mobile or To Bank and see in real-time what each would cost if moving via Loop – Ksh.33, Pesa Link – Ksh. 44, Mobile Money – Ksh. 69.3, EFT (next working day) – Ksh. 60.5 or RTGS (same day if before 3pm) – Ksh. 60.5 (for bank). There are also clear instructions that define service expectation.
Paying of bills is often a headache but on Loop, the process has been simplified with common / popular bill types listed and of course the almighty search to deal with the possible long tail of bills to be settled. I was pleasantly surprised to see line items like land rates, business permits, NHIF etc which are the domain of JamboPay. Co-opetition at work I suppose; necessary to ensure 100% coverage of a segment.
This option was marked as coming soon, but I hope to see some tight integration with retail experiences that would add value to other parts of the service. E.g. If the Loop team close on Ashley’s Barbershop as a merchant, then the metadata should automatically assign all payments to them appropriately when it comes to mapping out my spending and perhaps suggesting different alternative service experiences based on ratings, reviews or just provide options.
Now that the government has rolled out M-Akiba, a mobile traded bond, I see a lot of uh huh moments happen for many Gen-Y as the coin finally drops and they see Loop Invest for the true value that it brings. The wizard makes it easy to set up an investment with returns ranging from 7.5 to 9 percent across 3 to 12 months and an option to reinvest the principle plus interest at maturity. With the two bonds that I have had the opportunity to take part in, you almost forget that you put something away and it’s the random alert from the bank that refreshes your memory on it. On the top side, 9% is descent (albeit lazy) and would appeal to Gen-Y who are risk averse and looking at a long term play of growing a good nest egg. It is an added plus that one can have multiple investments running at the same time without having someone or some organization put together a bond or other such vehicle.
Loop Loan is yet to go live but I hope it is birthed like an M-Shwari on steroids. This segment is poised for growth, with models such as sharing the risk burden with a “loopers” pool of friends or relations anonymously yet to be explored, as is the use of “social capital” as a parameter for measuring risk.
Cash flow, Loop Goals and Net worth along with Loop Invest and Loop Loan have great potential to create service stickiness, riding off accruing benefits, social or monetary. I say that every interaction must lead to a transaction, and platforms must look at ways of delivering the transaction which can be an emotional hook from a perceived higher standing among a cohort of millennials who are comparing their cash flow and net worth or a boost by way of capital that they can use in their business or side hustle, riding off influencer status on various social mediums. I am especially rooting for Loop Invest as we need more millennials actively putting something away for the short to medium term, a habit if cultivated will reap huge benefits for them as individuals as well as the national collective.
Since it is still early days with the platform, I believe honest critique, even as I explore the service deeper will go a long way in refining the proposition, user experience and interfaces.
Off the blocks, connectivity hiccups were my biggest frustration. The app kept serving connectivity errors despite full network access on a 4G handset, with the control being other apps happily serving notifications confirming data access. Second were the time outs especially since I have to type out everything out in full again which was abit if a bore. The latter is good for security though.
I was surprised at the number of questions that I had to answer before my account could be setup; and while I understand the need for KYC, there is an overriding need for the consumer to see tangible value early in the process of engagement. Smarter onboarding would see key questions asked at just the right time. The card is also the last thing I need to start truly extracting value as it presents a point of consumption. I expected account opening using social authentication that would be two clicks away from value, with automation of elements such as reading the two factor authentication code from my inbox.
Two steps ahead of the user
Next, based off trained machine learning models, from a simple parsing or ingest of my messages and perchance personality insights gleaned from other sources, present me with a pre-populated dashboard of my financial persona or research supported benchmarks and offer certain suggestions either by way of access to a knowledge base or free phone consultancy to remedy any outlier insights or immediate up-sell me to a value adding product. For a generation that likes to keep up with each other, gamification of net worth, cash flow and goals would go a long way in firing up that referral engine to drive product growth.
There are some features that I have not tinkered with and I am also keen to try out the PesaLink implementation. I promised to give it a spin, and the exploration continues. Some teething problems, solvable by a quick version update but an exciting time ahead for the product teams at CBA Bank as the data and feedback comes back from thousands of users. If you are looking to #UnbankYourself or just want to check the other side of the fence and compare, here’s where you can get the link to the Android and IoS app. The web version looks and works nifty too.