“The Snapchat Generation Is Shaping The Future Of FinTech” by Savannah Dowling ~ April 26, 2018

Savannah Dowling is a writer at Crunchbase News. She’s a Cornell graduate and a Fulbright scholarship awardee.

More influencers, developers, and founders are looking to the generation that will shape outcomes in the startup world for years to come: Generation Z.

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Consensus surrounding what the cut off year is for Gen Z (or iGen) varies across publications and studies. For the most part, though, Generation Z is the coined term for children who are growing up on Snap and can’t remember a life without makeup gurus on Youtube. To be safe, let’s call it kids born after the mid to late nineties. That would make the oldest members of the group college-aged today.

Fintech is one industry that is both particularly challenged and enthralled with this population. The group is predicted to represent roughly 40 percent of all consumers by 2020, and their current purchasing power is about $44 billion, according to Forbes.

Fintech startups are starting to catch on to both of those statistics, looking to cash in and lay the groundwork on these future customers.

FinTech Goes For Gen Z

Crunchbase News has covered a lot of fintech in the past year. One of the trends for early-stage companies and large banks alike is the desire to tap into that grand purchasing power of our current credit card fledglings. Of course, when it comes to finances, teens can’t sign up for bank and credit cards on their own. But their parents can.

According to a 2017 report by the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV), which surveyed 15,600 Gen Zers between the ages of 13 and 21, 59 percent of those surveyed said that they received an allowance. And, in a report by PwC, 81% of “young Gen Z” consumers (those aged 13 through 16 years old) said that they preferred to shop in stores as opposed to online. So for credit card companies and banks, reaching out to the parents of Gen Z is critical.

Take Greenlight Financial Technologies, which Crunchbase News reported as having one of the highest early-stage investments for a southern company in early 2018. The company provides its subscribers with kid-friendly, permission-based debit cards that can be tracked, filled, and monitored by their parents.

Greenlight told Crunchbase News in February that the 50 million families in the U.S. with at least one child living at home represents a opportunity for growth for the company. Crunchbase News also identified at least nine other recent apps similar to Greenlight Financial Technologies, which appeal to parents’ desire to teach financial literacy. But it’s not just startups trying to capture the market.

In 2017, Amazon announced a new feature called Amazon teen, which provides teens with an account to spend their parent’s money online—and a convenient way for the ecommerce giant to convert future customers. According to Bloomberg, Amazon may also be looking to partner with banks to launch a bank account made specifically for teens.

No Big Screens

Fintech startups are also planning for the future by engaging with Generation Z’s mobile first preference.

A shining example of the opportunities that present themselves within the mobile first generation would be Tencent’s WeChat pay and Ant Financial’s Alipay, through which hundreds of millions of mobile users in China and abroad purchase goods and exchange money with just a few taps on their cell phones.

Mobile savings and banking apps like Digit, Chime, and Varo Money have also looked to capitalize on the increasing dependency on mobile in the U.S. Varo Money, which raised a $41 million Series B in January 2018, says that mobile first was always a part of the company’s platform.

“[Young people] don’t want to pay fees or read through obscure fine-print; they want a brand that represents their social missions and outlook,” Varo spokesperson Emily Brauer Gill told Crunchbase News in February.

Insurtech company, Root Insurance, raised a $51 million Series C in March for its platform. To say that the company is mobile first is an understatement. The startup collects data about driving habits through its users smartphones to come up with an automated insurance quote. The company is looking to appeal to younger drivers who are at once accustomed to immediacy and demanding of transparency.

The targeting of Gen Z by financial companies looking for lifelong customers isn’t a surprise, but the timing of the shift may be. Perhaps millennials expected a few more years in the limelight. All the same, it’s early days for Gen Z. The kids aren’t rich. Yet.