Jess Overton is joined by Sally Chi, Growth Manager at fintech company Chime. They had a great discussion about differentiation in the crowded challenger bank space, creating great relationships with its members, reaching users with concise messaging, and much more.

Listen here or continue reading for the edited highlights.

Differentiation in a crowded space

The challenger banking space is really crowded now. The biggest differentiator for us is the size of our market share - we’re the biggest challenger bank in the US. We’re also giving members not only features within the app but also tools to eventually improve their own financial lives. We’re conveying to our members how much control they have over the money; we’re giving educational content to teach them how to spend and manage their money better. And we have a really close relationship with our members; our social and community teams are constantly reaching out to our members and asking about their needs, what they’re struggling with. So our members see us as more than a bank.

Long term differentiation will be tough. We initially stood out by allowing our members to get paid up to two days early, and a lot of our competitors have that now. We just have to really pay attention to what our members need and hone in on that - for example we created SpotMe, as we realized banks profit so much from overdraft fees. 

Challenges getting middle America to adopt mobile banking

The tech part is an easy transition. Our app makes it so easy to do everything online, so non tech savvy customers have realised they don’t need to go to a brick and mortar anymore - and the pandemic definitely helped. 

Reactions from traditional banks

Traditional banks are ramping up their mobile efforts, but brick and mortar banks can’t change their business model; they make money profiting off of fees, and it’s going to be very hard for them to deliver the kind of features we’re offering.

Experimental approach to marketing

We do a lot of Google and Facebook, in addition to TV. We’re trying to diversify as much as possible, so we’re going to split off a bit into web advertising and mobile. 

Our team has been growing like crazy. We focus on new strategy initiatives; we really hone into testing as much as possible and trying to take a competitive advantage. 

In terms of rising marketing channels for fintech, there’s no getting around Tiktok. It’s been exploding in terms of content...I thought it would just be a bunch of Gen Zs, but when I got familiar with the platform I realized there's some really good content, and it's a valuable advertising platform. 

There are barriers to movement for customers when it comes to trying out multiple challenger banks. Transferring direct deposits between banks is a lengthy and inconvenient process. The challenge is answering the question: how do we get customers to be lifetime users? 

The key to increasing user adoption is working as fast as possible to get to users first. 

Personalization for a broad audience

We market our features directly in our ads. So when people download Chime, they’re going to know exactly what they get with a certain feature.

The fact we don’t need to personalize our ads makes our jobs so easy. We have all kinds of people who resonate with our features. 

From younger audiences on Tiktok to older ones on say Yahoo, the same ad will resonate with both demographics. 

We just make ads that are very clear and concise to what our value proposition and features are. people are going to see “fee free overdraft” and be like “cool, I want that”, whether I’m 18 years old or 50.   

Out of the box strategies

A really cool strategy we had was partnering with the Dallas Mavericks basketball team. This was brand marketing rather than performance. I was pretty shocked at first.... Dallas has just been a really good city for us in terms of quality of users so it’s turned out to be a really great fit. 

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