Jun 15, 2020

FinTech profile: Marcus, by Goldman Sachs

Banking
Fintech
Matt High
2 min
Digital banking
Marcus is an innovative digital bank and mobile banking app developed and launched by Goldman Sachs...

Marcus was launched in 2016 by Goldman Sachs to help people achieve financial wellbeing.

The digital challenger bank, named after Goldman’s founder, offers an online savings account, no-fee personal loans for retail customers and a checking account.

In 2019, Marcus introduced a consumer credit card in conjunction with Apple and, more recently, it launched a dedicated mobile banking app earlier this year.

While operating with an independent startup mentality, Marcus still holds close the values and aims of the broader Goldman Sachs organisation - namely, putting the customer at the heart of every action.

Value is key, for example. The company offers financial products that are intended to help customers, from personalised loans with fixed rates and payments options that can be customised, through to savings accounts that allow the setting of specific financial goals.

Marcus’ loans offer transparency, too. For example, there are no hidden fees and an early withdrawal fee associated with its CDs.

The Marcus app

Money at your fingertips, says Marcus of its app - available on both the Apple App Store and Google Play.

The platform is designed to provide fast and easy mobile access to a customer’s Marcus accounts 24/7.

The Marcus app allows for the complete management of money. For example, users can check balances, schedule transfers to and from other banks and make loan payments.

It also allows for the setting, tracking and achieving of specific financial goals designed to help with greater financial wellbeing.

The latter includes options to create recurring deposits, for example, or to review any transaction history and further understand how much interest has been earned on an account.

Similar functionality is used for the managing of loans. In this instance, the Marcus app allows users to check remaining balances and set up and manage an auto-pay feature for ease of use.

Loans and savings

Marcus offers several types of loan service, including debt consolidation, home improvement, wedding, moving and relocation and vacation.

The company differentiates itself from others by taking no signing up fee. Rather, says Marcus, “the amount you’re approved for is the amount you’ll receive”.

Simplicity is built into the offering, delivering on the brand’s customer-first approach.

Loans, it says, can be taken in as few as five minutes through a straightforward process that runs from customised personal options based on initial information, through to the completing of an application by entering personal information.

Marcus’ savings proposition is built on the financial expertise of Goldman Sachs. Savings options include an online savings account, a seven-month no penalty CS and a one-year high yield CD.
 

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Jun 17, 2021

Zafin: Banking is now in the era of the tech ecosystem

Zafin
Banking
Technology
Digital
3 min
FinTech Magazine holds a Q&A session with John Smith, EVP Ecosystem at Zafin, on the evolution of banking and its future as an aspect of tech ecosystems

The development of tech ecosystems is placing the future of post-COVID banking in jeopardy. At a time when Big Tech can replicate the functions of traditional financial institutions, what can banks do to retain a grip on the market?

John Smith, EVP Ecosystem at Zafin, has a few ideas. A SaaS cloud-native product and pricing platform for financial institutions, Zafin is preparing the next generation of banks to cope with this precise challenge.

Smith is responsible for the strategic and tactical management of the company’s ecosystem, including the creation of new business models to support growth and differentiation. We asked him four questions:  

Q. Have the events of the pandemic caused an irreversible shift in the digitalisation of banks? If so, is COVID the sole cause or are there other factors?

It’s a great question and one that I am asked a lot. Without a doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic has driven a significant shift in the acceleration of digital. In fact, I’ve seen some estimates show there to have been as much as four to six years of digital adoption growth since the initial lockdown started. 

While the pandemic may be the primary reason for this growth, two other drivers include fintech disruption and the high costs of operating a traditional retail bank. Both of these factors have caught the attention of banking executives as they set their minds on accelerating digital transformation with a focus on high return, low risk. 

Q. Some commentators believe banks must learn from Big Tech in order to survive. Do you agree? Please expand. 

I agree completely; we’re living in the era of the ‘ecosystem’. All the seismic shifts we’re seeing in technology, be it aggregation, embedded finance, DeFi or hyper-personalisation are all enabled by the foundation of an ecosystem.  

When financial institutions work with a strategic partner like Zafin, which has made the strategic investments in a best-in-class ecosystem, they’re able to capitalise on opportunities more quickly and safely, and will be better positioned for growth now and at the other side of the pandemic. 

Q. What are currently the obstacles to adopting Open Banking? Is it more likely to 'take off' in some regions rather than others?

I would argue that Open Banking has been in the US for some time and will only continue to grow there. By definition, Open Banking is about the secure sharing of financial information that customers are aware of and have authorised. Under that definition, we’re seeing aspects of this well underway even though its full potential remains to be seen.

Third-Party Providers are a natural outcome of Open Banking, whereby they can create propositions beyond what a bank normally does to enable banking functions such as payments, borrowing, saving and so on. Once again, some of these are already present through industry-led initiatives, whereas regions such as the EU have taken the pathway of regulation such as PSD2.  

The industry-led initiatives we’ve seen in the US have also had the added advantage of guard-rails that regulatory bodies like FFIEC and CFPB provide. There are also other technology-led initiatives such as API definitions that are set out through the FS-ISAC. 

I would argue the future of Open Banking in North America will be through the natural evolution of the guidelines and API definitions that have been published, as well as the natural progression of industry initiatives. 

Q. Are there any other bank tech trends you'd like to discuss? 

Coreless banking. Zafin has been pioneering some of the work around externalising functions out of the legacy core to drive a more ‘fintech nimble’ bank, while not having to deliver a ‘heart and lungs’ core bank replacement. 

Real life examples of this include moving some of the core functions of a banking system, such as product and pricing to a platform like Zafin. Origination, onboarding, KYC, risk, and compliance are all other examples of externalising banking functions for added agility.

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