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Money needs to be marketed, not just experiences

Sharing economy. Experience economy. Peer to Peer economy. Gig economy. Crowd funding economy. There is no end to new economies as we find new ways to develop market ecosystems. But while ecosystems are being built all around us leveraging on different opportunities and communities, the reality is that the way money is being marketed has changed which is allowing these economies to prosper.

Over the years, money has lost shape, size and basically physical form. The more it continues to lose form, the more it increases in power and influence. Look at the change from cash to cards to e-wallets, e-money and cryptocurrency. It has more color and emotion as well. Methods of interaction with money have also changed from feel to swipe, touch, wave and completely contactless payments which are grabbing an increasing share of the customer’s wallet.

Distribution of money has also diversified into various ecosystems making money more powerful and giving the notion of it being decentralized. Bank Negara Malaysia has granted approximately 42 e-money licenses so far, out of which 37 are not banks and only five of them are banks, which gives you a hint of how money is being experimented.

Additionally, services such as Duit Now, Boost, Alipay, Grab Pay, Big Pay, Touch ‘n Go, Razer Pay and many more are making experiences more convenient and accessible.

Money has become more agile and mobile. Now, we have more access points to money than ever before. The distance between money and people is reducing but distance between banks or financial institutions and people is increasing which is creating more urgency to change.

The good news is that there are many initiatives that Malaysian and international banks or financial institutions have taken to reduce this distance by offering more rewards, experiences, making the customer journey smooth and efficient with technology acting as a catalyst. They, including financial services apps, have also made a very strong effort to make customers feel like a winner every time they spend money by offering rewards and points minimising the impact of the expense and encouraging consumers to spend more.

The question is, is that enough?

Probably not because “experiences” is fast becoming a saturated space due to commoditisation. The way experiences are being offered and manifested, they have begun to look like discount coupons or product catalogue. One could argue that they need to be delivered differently but there is also another area of which one needs to take notice.

Can banks and financial services be more solution oriented about difficult subjects that people deal with such as debt, loss, stagnancy, budgeting, investment etc? These avenues are still less explored that represent great opportunity for marketing.

A few exciting fintech companies around the world are addressing these issues. One of them is Acorns, which is focused on creating wealth born out of spare change. Acorns helps consumers build up their savings by rounding up purchases to the next dollar and putting away the difference.

Meanwhile, RaiseMe collaborates with colleges and universities to help students earn incremental achievement-based micro scholarships. RaiseMe gives students the opportunity to begin earning incremental funding in school, earning small sums of money for achievements like getting an A in a class or taking a leadership role in a club.

Investment app Bumped gives its users an opportunity to own a fraction of a share in stock for every purchase made from participating companies such as Dominos, Walmart and many others.

Even Axxess in Malaysia has an interesting insurance benefits program that leverages on the daily spending habits of individuals which results in providing free private healthcare benefits and other insurance benefits. Many ideas such as these have opened new doors to how money can be marketed rather than following the populist trend of just marketing “experiences”.

The writer is Moiz Rangoonwala, head of strategy, Invictus Blue Malaysia (formerly Zenith Malaysia).

(Photo courtesy: 123RF)

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