Thursday, April 25, 2019

Frederick Achom reviews Apple’s new credit card announcement 

Apple Pay is now an every day way to pay for goods and services for millions of people. And Apple is set to capitalise on its success and cement its place in the financial sector, with the announcement of its new Apple Card.

Partnered with Mastercard and Goldman Sachs, the Apple Card offers a host of benefits and easy-to-use features that could have Fintech competition deeply worried.

How will the Apple Card work?

The first notable feature of the Apple Card is how simple it is for customers to access it and use it. There is no waiting period to be accepted, no gap between applying and using it to pay, in fact, nothing that could be associated with traditional credit cards.

Some Fintech companies already include simple online sign up for credit cards, but there is always some kind of a delay between applying and using. The Apple Card will be included as a built-in feature of the Apple Wallet on iPhones. All customers need to do is sign up and they are immediately able to use it.

Apple say that the card offers a ‘healthier financial life’ to its customers. As well as 2% cashback on every transaction paid daily, it is designed to help people make smarter financial choices.

All of these features are tried and tested with the millennial generation, who respond to rewards, loyalty offerings and, crucially, easy to use products. This is how Apple is tapping into the zeitgeist to beat Fintech start-ups at their own game.

When will Apple Card be available?

By September 2019, iPhone customers in the US will be free to sign up for an Apple card. As they already tend to have heavy loyalty towards Apple and are used to its first foray into the financial sector with Apple Pay, the transition to their credit card should be seamless.

Apple have simplified the sign-up process, they’ve made it easy and immediately available to use, and they offer all the other benefits associated with credit cards. This includes automatic categorisation of transactions. This is something that is already used a lot in Fintech products, and there is no direct evidence yet to show that it’s beneficial for customers in any meaningful way. However, it is what consumers expect, and it is a trend Apple intends to have a slice of.

Payments will go into separate categories, and Apple will use machine learning to accurately label every payment with the merchant and location of the transaction. This is several steps further than most categorisation offerings in financial products and is likely to strike a chord with Apple’s customer base.

Key features of Apple’s credit card

The idea of taking a trend and improving it is behind other offerings from the Apple Card. Cashback has become extremely popular among Fintech companies as a way of guaranteeing customer loyalty.

Apple Card takes it a step further by offering ‘Daily Cash’ on transactions. This will be 2% of every purchase the customer makes, and they will be able to use that cashback straight away. They can either use it on Apple Pay, send to family and friends in Messages or use it to go towards their Apple Card balance.

Perhaps the most attractive feature of all for customers, the Apple Card will have no fees attached. Apple says there will be “no annual, late, international or over the limit fees…” However, the small print shows that it’s not quite as perfect as it sounds. Late payments will mean extra interest added onto the Apple Card’s balance.

The Apple Card looks set to offer everything other credit cards and products do, but with more finesse, shine and benefit for the customer. Apple already has millions of loyal customers and a vast swathe of consumer data at their fingertips. It seems the appetite is there for the Apple Card, and it’s difficult to imagine that it won’t be a soaring success. All of which will disrupt a sector more used to disrupting the traditional banks. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Frederick Achom on what makes a Fintech start-up successful

What makes the difference between a Fintech start-up that crashes and burns and one that is successful? If you have the idea, the talent and the tech to move into the Fintech space with your start-up, you need to beat the odds. Stats show just one in ten start-up companies makes it.

It’s always easier to have the idea than to make it into a successful reality. Innovation, disruptive tech and forward-thinking ideas are vital for success in the ever-growing Fintech sector today. Competition is harsh and start-ups are not only up against their peers, but also established financial institutions who want their slice of this sector.

Some advice for Fintech start-up companies

Fintech is driven by consumer demand, and more businesses are seizing the opportunity it affords them every day. There are undoubtedly vast opportunities for the right kind of start-ups working across categories including distributed ledger technology, wealth management solutions, alternative lending services and payments solutions.

Consumers are more likely than ever to adopt innovate Fintech solutions, without the need to stick to traditional lenders and banks. Between 2015 and 2017, research from EY shows that adoption doubled. This is increasingly putting traditional financial giants on the back foot as they react to the disruption caused by Fintech start-ups.

How can you guarantee your Fintech start-up will be successful? Well, you may not be able to 100% guarantee success, but by working to key strategies you will give your business the best chance.

Create with the customer in mind

Every Fintech company’s ideas live or due by the user experience (UX). If a consumer finds an app or service too complicated, or it looks untrustworthy, that’s all it takes for a company to fail.

Lots of Fintech solutions we see on the market right now have poor UX, and this creates another sub-category of opportunity for disruptive start-ups. Combine smart design with tech to create a beautifully workable product or service and you will succeed.

Solutions, products, apps and services should be accessible and easy to use for anyone. The end product is aimed at people who aren’t generally interested in its technological complexities. They just want it to work.

Always ensure simplicity

If you can’t explain a Fintech app to the user within in ten seconds, the chances are it won’t work. The world of personal and business finances is complex and stressful for many people. Products and services must appear simple on the surface to stand a chance of survival. Dispensing with extraneous features and fussy embellishments can go a long way to ensuring a product goes down well with consumers.

Retain the human touch

While big data analysis, artificial intelligence and automation can solve many problems for consumers, it can also strip away a human feel. People want to be heard as well as helped. And although tech can analyse their data to improve financial offerings, for example, it can’t hear their individual story. This can get in the way of the trust between start-up and customer.

Innovate for the greater good

Successful Fintech companies have one thing in common – passionate employees. To be successful, start-up owners must activate and encourage this passion by having a higher purpose for their app or solution. The best people in all sectors stay with companies that are standing up for something.

Merely creating a new app in the financial sector can make money in the short-term, but without a deeper purpose, the good staff won’t stay. Create something that’s about more than making a profit.

Fintech start-ups are in a unique position to make real, lasting changes to the way we all maintain our personal and business finances. From the way we pay for things to how we access loans, Fintech has the potential to revolutionise everything. If you can tap into something bigger than your start-up, you have a better chance of becoming – and staying – successful.