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Beyond the meme: Finances are seriously going viral


LONDON, July 29th (Reuters) – Ian Rogers was previously responsible for digital strategy for luxury fashion group LVMH. Now he has a new mission: to give the French cryptocurrency company Ledger some ambitious shine.

Rogers’ new role in turning Ledger into a consumer brand with viral potential shows how young consumer finance firms not only leverage the latest social media channels, but also select executives and marketing strategies more commonly associated with lifestyle brands.

“The Ledger product is well designed: it offers the best, most thought-out security,” said Rogers, who began his career as a webmaster for the Beastie Boys website and later became CEO of headphone company Beats.

“What it doesn’t have is a go-to-market approach that feels like it’s made by Nike or Apple. That’s what we have to do.”

Fintechs use prominent investors, social media influencers and eye-catching campaigns to make online checking accounts and loans a little more glamorous and to attract potential customers.

“If Nike releases a new sneaker or Spotify launches a new product, that’s interesting, but if we add an alternative payment method that is not of interest to consumers,” said David Sandstrom, chief marketing officer at Klarna, based in Stockholm.

“If we can work with strong influencers, we can get the attention of the audience, whose attention is very difficult to pin down.”

Buy-Now-Pay-Later company Klarna, which has just bought influencer marketing software company APPRL, was one of the most prominent pioneers of this strategy. Continue reading

It launched campaigns with hip-hop star Snoop Dogg and most recently partnered with rapper A $ AP Rocky, who became a shareholder and “CEO for a day”.

In a June advertisement with 4.8 million YouTube views, A $ AP Rocky roams the streets in a purple robe and slippers until he finds a phone with the Klarna app and uses it to buy clothes to “pre-lock” – regain look.


But it’s difficult to go viral in financial products in a highly regulated industry.

In December, the UK advertising regulator banned an Instagram influencer campaign by Klarna to “irresponsibly” encourage customers to use “buy now, pay later” services.

“Brands need to remember that the financial industry is a regulated industry. Therefore, they need to go beyond the essentials, z Advice 11: FS.

Klarna’s Sandstrom said the company is working to provide financial and advertising regulators with more detailed information about its products and services.

In June, Klarna and a group of influencer marketing and psychology experts published a whitepaper outlining best practices for influencers and brands to advertise responsibly online.

Some social media companies have also become stricter about what financial products can be advertised on their platforms and how. In May, TikTok updated its branded content policy to ban influencers from advertising financial services and products worldwide.

But financial brands are still allowed to hire influencers from TikTok to appear in their ads.

The majority of Gen Z’s use Instagram and TikTok to search for personal finance information, based on a Qualtrics study commissioned by personal finance fintech Credit Karma.

“When it comes to finances, sometimes things get better when they come from your friends and colleagues than from your parents,” said Charli D’Amelio, the 17-year-old American influencer with more than 120 million TikTok followers.

D’Amelio, an investor in the teen banking app Step, which she promoted on social media, said she is sticking with products she uses and likes. Step is also supported by Will Smith’s venture capital firm Dreamers VC, Justin Timberlake, as well as athletes Eli Manning and Stephen Curry.

“Previously, financial services were just where your paycheck went and you went to the branch to get cash or file a check,” said CJ MacDonald, CEO of Step. “Now it is part of your everyday life to pay bills, receive money from friends. It really becomes part of your lifestyle, we just lean into it. “


For larger fintechs, these new strategies can be a way to attract younger audiences after gaining market share in other demographics.

Oakland-based Credit Karma, which has grown from a free credit scoring provider to a provider of financial products including checking accounts, claims that one in two US millennials has signed.

Credit Karma now wants to reach Generation Z – the age group of 18-25 years. As part of that foray, it has partnered with video streaming platform Vevo to sponsor a number of live performances by artists with a strong Gen Z following, including Billie Eilish and Ariana Grande. The company also recently looked into influencers on TikTok.

“Just like we did with Millennials, we want to meet Generation Z where they are,” said Poulomi Damani, General Manager of Assets and Tax at Credit Karma. “This is an area we really want to own and an area where we see ourselves doubling down.”

Mainstream banks and financial firms have started following the trend with mixed results.

UK bank NatWest (NWG.L) worked with influencers in late 2019 to post social media content promoting their Bo ‘digital banking app, but then scrapped Bo’ after a sluggish start.

The big question is whether cool celebrity backers can help young fintechs win the battle against the established players whose clients might prefer to stick with the traditional bank they already have a relationship with.

“If you can break through with a lifestyle brand and people believe they’re part of a community, you can ask for more,” said Mike Abbott, global banking lead at Accenture. “But to what extent these strategies are effective (against the incumbent operators), time will tell. Convenience trumps influence every time.”

US banks developed the peer-to-peer payment app Cell after PayPal (PYPL.O) Venmo’s mobile payments business launched in the United States for people to send money to one another.

Cell now processes more payments than Venmo. Users sent $ 307 billion via Cell in 2020 compared to $ 159 billion via Venmo.

As they mature, some fintech companies have shifted to a more conventional marketing approach.

The British payment company Wise (WISEa.L) tried shock tactics with anti-bank ads and flash mobs all over the City of London in its early days.

Since then it has become less noticeable.

“You may recall that we ran naked outside the Bank of England to uncover hidden fees for our ‘Nothing to Hide’ campaign,” said Cian Weeresinghe, Wise’s chief marketing officer, who went public earlier this month .

“People still talk about what’s great today. But it’s only natural that the way we market grows with us.”

Reporting by Anna Irrera in London. Edited by Rachel Armstrong and Jane Merriman

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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