Like many of you, I frequently check in with The Financial Brand, as there’s always some piece of content of interest. I was just reading their recent article, BNPL’s Dark Side: Younger Consumers Face Credit Trouble Ahead when a term that I’d not heard in a while grabbed my attention.
“The Fed goes so far as to warn that a large share of BNPL users are 'financially fragile.'”
“Financially fragile.” Are you familiar with the phrase? According to Google, it's a phrase that economists use to describe people who would not be able to pull together $2,000 in cash within 30 days.
The Financial Brand article lays out some learnings of a Federal Reserve Bank of New York study of BNPL users:
- “Nearly one in three — 32.7% — had a credit score of less than 620, had had a credit application rejected, or had been delinquent on a loan in the past year.
- Only 42% of BNPL users said they could handle a financial shock by drawing on their savings and would not have to borrow to deal with the emergency.
- The BNPL users who would need to borrow said it would be from friends and family or from banks or credit cards.
- 48% say their money situation is bad enough that they will never have the things they want in life.”
Just how many BNPL users are there out there? I’ve seen 360 million worldwide. I’ve also seen that Klarna, alone, has a user base of 147 million, and that 1 in 10 US consumers regularly use BNPL services at checkout. So, yes, we’re talking about a significant number of people.
Here’s what I’m thinking. You know what’s needed here? A bit of good old-fashioned financial wellness training.
As a community bank, you play a critical role in local economies by serving as a pillar of support and trust for both your customers and your community. With so many individuals struggling with managing their money, don’t community banks have a responsibility (and an opportunity) to help these individuals improve their financial well-being? A great place to start is with the kind of money management training that can lead to a lifetime of financial wellness; the kind that you can offer … with the right tools.
According to BAI’s, “How banks can help customers with their finances,” a majority of banking customers in North America would consider switching banks for better money-management support and personalized advice. In order to keep their customers from switching, the article goes on to say, banks need to invest in the right tools and ensure they are providing tailored insights and recommendations that customers need, when they need them. While offering personalized financial wellness and money management education should always be high on a community bank’s “to do” list, it is especially critical for those customers who may be financially fragile.
Although most banks already provide digital money management tools, adoption and engagement rates are disappointingly low. According to a recent Forrester report, 88% of respondents say less than half of their customers actively use these tools. That is in part because many tools take a “one-size-fits-all” approach. They also require too many steps to gather insights. Even then, the capabilities fall short.
Today, there are much better tools out there, tools that deliver personalized insights and recommendations. “A new generation of advanced money management tools that,” according to BAI, “provide actionable insights based on financial data, such as cash flow analysis, transaction categorization, smart budgets, automated savings tools, and personalized advice and recommendations.”
If you’ve not done so already, as a community bank you should embrace these advanced money management tools. As I mentioned before, local banks have a responsibility to their community and their customers… especially those most in need. Isn’t that what sets community banks apart from the rest? And let's face it; those banks that offer better money management guidance can create better customers and better relationships, which in turn will drive repeat business and loyalty over time.
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