Digital battle: Bank customers demand more
The inevitable demise of traditional bank branches, combined with an ever more sophisticated range of digital banking services, is continuing to shape customer attitudes and expectations of what a bank can and should provide. Notably, fintech firms have been quicker to adapt to meet their demands with challenger banks most definitely delivering the right change at the right time.
The best of these challengers have shown themselves to be remarkably astute at keeping an ear to the ground and listening to those who will really decide the future of their business – consumers, also known as customers. For traditional banks, now operating in a very different world from the one in which they originally opened for business, keeping up with the pace of change in customer demand is imperative. In order to do so, they would do well to follow the same strategy as the challengers: putting sufficient time and resources into evaluating exactly what modern-day customers want and expect from their provider.
One key way in which traditional banks can emulate fintech firms is to enhance the overall customer experience. Although challenger banks have a very long way to go before they start to knock their traditional counterparts off their pedestal, traditional banks have many lessons to learn from them: if they want to even the score, they should definitely not ignore them. Above all, they should embrace open banking APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) and partner with great service providers to make their platforms more accessible and feature-rich.
They must also recognise what is self-evident: fintech companies have brought new approaches to customer service that customers really like. With the continued evolution of the best-known brands such as Monzo, Revolut, and N26, positioning themselves in the right place, at the right time, the question must be asked: what makes them stand out from the crowd?
The answer lies in understanding their customers. Primarily, although not exclusively, these new customers are millennials who do not like having to wait for anything. Instead, they crave simplicity and ease, which they are used to experiencing via their smartphones. Understanding their preferences, and adapting accordingly by making their services entirely digital, has allowed these new market entrants to raise the bar, challenging retail banks across the world as a result.
The new wave of challenger banks have designed and conceived their offering around meeting current customer expectations and anticipating new ones as technology advances at a rapid pace. By leveraging data insights, and offering a more personalised experience along with a fully digital experience, they increasingly offer customers what they want and then add some more. To keep their existing customers and win new ones in the years ahead, traditional banks need to up their game.
Upgrade launch new credit card with bitcoin rewards
Upgrade, a fintech company focused on providing credit for mainstream consumers, has launched the Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Card a new version of its Upgrade Card featuring bitcoin rewards. Under the new programme, users earn unlimited 1.5% bitcoin rewards on every purchase as they make payments.
The custody and trading platform for holding and selling bitcoin is provided by NYDIG and the card is a Visa Signature card, which includes benefits such as trip and baggage insurance, purchase protection, and extended warranty coverage.
The company offers credit lines from $500 to $25,000 with the Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Card depending on your credit score. It works with Apple Pay and Google Pay. Like other Upgrade credit cards, there are no monthly fees, late fees, or returned payment fees.
"Upgrade Card is already delivering over $3 billion in annualised credit to consumers," said Renaud Laplanche, co-founder and CEO at Upgrade. "Starting today, anyone can apply for an Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Card and enjoy the same affordable and responsible credit as with any Upgrade Card, plus the potential upside and fun of owning bitcoin."
Participating in the crypto economy
Upgrade isn’t the first company to announce a credit card with bitcoin rewards, but it’s the first one that is generally available. Anyone can apply with no waitlist, and start using their virtual card immediately until they get their physical card in the mail.
"Crypto rewards introduce cardholders to a new asset class that is increasingly part of a consumer's financial portfolio," said Terry Angelos, SVP and Global Head of Fintech at Visa. "Whether you're a crypto enthusiast or just getting started, programmes like the Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Card offer an engaging and low-risk way to participate in the crypto economy."
At the moment, you can’t do much with your bitcoins. You can choose to hold them or sell them. There’s no way to transfer your bitcoins to another wallet for instance. If you choose to sell your rewards, there’s a 1.5% transaction fee.
This card is not currently available in all 50 states. Customers in Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia can’t order an Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Card at the moment.