Welcome the New Kids on the Block: How Millennials and Gen Z Are Disrupting FinTech

growthgorilla logo With Millennials making up roughly a quarter of the world’s population, it’s not surprising that they’re shaking up traditional industries. Millennials and Gen Z (people born between the mid-1990s and mid-2000s) are finally reaching an age where they have disposable income and few if any, children. Unlike older generations, they’re not tied to large mortgages and are eager to spend their hard-earned cash.

While it’s hard to determine whether Millennials earn more than previous generations, research from the World Data Lab reveals the influence of Millennial consumers. As Millennials and Gen Z build their careers and make more money, they’re quickly increasing their spending power to become one of the world’s most influential consumers. So, how exactly will Millennials and Gen Z shape the world economy and organizations working in the financial sector?

Millennials Powering the FinTech Revolution

Millennials grew up alongside technology giants like Apple and Google, making them one of the most tech-savvy generations. It also means that they’re not afraid to use technology to help them make complex decisions – even financial ones.

Research into Millennial’s financial attitudes show some interesting results:

  • 68% of Millennials think that how we access money will change in the next 5 years
  • 70% say that how we pay for things will change in the next 5 years
  • 73% would be more receptive to financial services from tech companies like Google, Apple, PayPal and Amazon than their own bank
  • 33% believe banks will cease to exist over the next five years

With such disruptive and encouraging attitudes, Millennials are easily powering the FinTech revolution and making way for start-ups to radically change a rather stuffy and traditional industry.

Gen Z Keeps it Traditional 

While Gen Z shares many attitudes as Millennials, they’re slightly more cautious and wary when it comes to FinTech. After all, this generation was still children during the 2008 financial crash and watched as their parents tried to pick up the pieces. So, it’s not surprising that 48% of Gen Z prefer to conduct their banking transactions face-to-face. However, this personal connection doesn’t align them with traditional banks as 31% believe they won’t need banks in the future and 42% are excited about financial services from tech companies like Google, Apple, PayPal, and Amazon.

These attitudes are clearly more conservative than their older siblings, but still encouraging for companies looking to disrupt the financial sector. Understanding each generation’s unique challenges and attitudes are crucial for FinTech companies looking to cater to and build loyalty amongst the next generation of consumers.

Read more: How Brands Can Connect with Gen Z through Social Media Marketing

Millennials aren’t interested in a life without tech

Millennials, born between 1980 and 1995, grew up alongside technology like the internet, cell phones, and everyday computing. Most remember old-school computers and poor graphics video games. Cell phones were a teenager right of passage. As early adopters, Millennials are open and receptive to change.

They also have high expectations for modern convenience. Long gone are the days of waiting for your Internet dial-up. Millennials want financial services to be as easy as a click-of-a-button. That’s where disruptors like Transferwise come in, offering bank transfers that take less than a minute rather than the standard 3-5 days. Offering more convenient and faster transactions is one clear way to win over the Millennial consumer.

Millennials don’t trust banks 

Most Millennials were entering university or the workplace during the 2008 economic crash. As such, they became adults in a world full of financial instability and were old enough to understand the role bankers played. So, it’s really not surprising that they struggle to trust banks. By moving away from traditional financial organizations, Millennials have paved the way for FinTech start-ups.

Research shows that Millennials are extremely receptive to banking with FinTech companies as only 28% would prefer to use a traditional bank, and only 13% don’t trust FinTechs. However, Millennials’ financial needs extend beyond simply wanting to bank with a non-traditional company. Recent research from EY shows that FinTech firms wishing to attract Millennials, need to make a positive contribution to society and have a ‘purpose’ beyond profit while also being mobile-friendly.

Online investment platforms like Acorn are popular among Millennials who want to keep track of their investments without a traditional stockbroker while apps like Moven provide personal money coaching to help Millennials learn about and take control of their finances.

Millennials are one of the most debt-laden generations

Debt plays a large role in how Millennials view their finances; especially since the average American Millennial has $36,000 in personal debt and 20% doesn’t expect to die in debt. While British Millennials are slightly better off, 37% still carry financial debt with 10% owing at least £14,200.

Millennials have enormous debt from student loans, car payments and personal loans as few (less than 10% in the UK) own homes. After entering the workforce in entry-level positions or struggled to find work in a post-recession world, many took on additional loans, maxed out credit cards, or simply defaulted.

As a result, they don’t want a lecture on their poor money habits or the fact they’re drowning in debt. Instead, they want straightforward, non-judgmental financial advice so they can control their situation and become more financially savvy.

Several FinTech companies cater to debt-laden Millennials, like SoFi, who helps individuals refinance their debts (including personal and student loans) or Planwise who help customers learn about financial planning and set achievable goals.

Three Ways FinTech Companies can Market to Millennials

1. Don’t judge. Millennials who are struggling with their finances don’t need to be told where they went wrong. They want tools and advice for getting out of debt and investing in their future.

2. Responsive and quick services. Websites and mobile platforms need to be optimized with fast load times and easy navigation as this tech-savvy generation won’t tolerate outdated tech.

3. Make it easy. Piles of paperwork and unnecessarily lengthy processes are non-starters for millennials. They’re quite receptive to Robo-advisors, online financial advisors that let millennials determine the amount of risk they’re comfortable with and increase or decrease their investments accordingly. So this can be a great way to streamline services and ensure you’re available 24/7.

Gen Z are true digital natives

As Millennials’ younger siblings, Gen Z grew up with the latest technology and younger members were probably using smartphones before they could read. They were also at home during the 2008 financial crash or born just after, so saw first-hand as their parents struggled to come to terms with a financially uncertain world.

Generation Z is far more conservative than Millennials, so they are less excited about financial products from technology giants like Amazon and Google. They’re also more likely to use a debit card as they want to avoid the debt Millennials currently face. The oldest members of Gen Z are starting to enter the workplace and have their own money, which means that their spending and saving habits are only now becoming apparent.

Gen Z are entrepreneurs

As Gen Z starts to enter the workforce, many are choosing to run their own businesses with 46% working as freelancers. They enjoy the freedom of working for themselves, calling the shots and working from almost any location in the world (as long as it has WiFi).

Running their own businesses creates a whole different host of financial needs, which creates opportunities for FinTech companies that cater to small businesses. Transferwise makes it easy to send and receive international payments (perfect for freelancers working across borders), while companies like FreeAgent help small companies to handle their accounting needs and file tax returns.

How FinTech Companies Can Market to Gen Z. 

1. A multi-faceted approach. Like Millennials, Gen Z also expects a frictionless digital experience for pretty much everything, including banking. They want easy-to-use mobile technology as well as in-person customer service when the need arises. So, FinTech companies will need to provide both a fantastic support service as well as an excellent online experience and create a seamless customer journey to win this generation.

2. Social savvy. With over 45% of Gen Z using Instagram for brand discovery, it’s important for FinTech companies to market on social media too. This generation spends hours every day exploring social media and uses it to connect and understand brands. As entrepreneurs, they also use social media to promote their businesses so FinTech companies that integrate with social media platforms, for example, by making it easy for customers to pay via Facebook, capture a competitive advantage.

3. Keep it real. Growing up with technology and in the age of fake news, means that Gen Z doesn’t blindly trust anything they read online and they’ll quickly bounce off a page that’s filled with fluff instead of facts. To gain their trust and convince them to work with you, you’ll need to provide information that’s accurate and helpful.

Read more: Why Online Coupons Connect With the Ultimate Smart Shopper: The Millennial