June 6, 2016
Experts Corner

Tech-savvy Millennials embrace mobile technology

Anthony Price is the CEO of Connecticut-based LootScout

If Paul Revere were to ride his horse through the streets of Boston today, he would be on his mobile phone, warning business about Millennials, the generation born between 1982 and 2000 that comprises over 83.1 million people in the U.S., and which usurped the 75.4 million Baby Boomer generation of Americans born between 1946 and 1964. The changing of the economic guard is here.

This shift is a seminal moment for business — and a potential goldmine not seen since the Gold Rush, circa 1848. Industries attempting to sell products to a youthful market are dealing with a new power demographic. From automobile manufacturers, and hotels, to financial institutions, consumer-facing companies and workplaces throughout the U.S., if a business or organization doesn't have a strategy to sell, engage or attract Millennials, its economic house is in jeopardy.

Millennials are technology-savvy and likely to conduct their daily lives exclusively on mobile devices, specifically their phones. Banking — an industry known for its slow and steady pace — is grappling with the rapid, ever-changing bevy of technology platforms and gadgets, at the same time that it deals with the new rules of 24-hour banking.

The big banks have the financial resources to procure and deploy the latest technology wizardry. But the 6,000 community banks and more than 6,100 credit unions can't afford to sit out the winner-takes-all technology arms race and cede market share. A startup plans to help both thrive in the marketplace.

Bankjoy, a tech startup located north of Detroit, helps community banks and credit unions gain a competitive footing in the digital landscape. The company is funded in part by Y Combinator, the Silicon Valley-based company that invests in early-stage firms.

New mobile app

Michael Duncan, co-founder and CEO of Bankjoy, is building a modern mobile app experience. Duncan, a 2004 graduate of Kettering University's Computer Science department, brings both computer programming and credit union experience to the table. The young CEO loves technology and wears an Apple watch, the calling card of a connected generation. His big, energetic smile beams with confidence. Duncan says, "We believe we have the best-in-class app that is out there."

Bankjoy is not here to compete with financial institutions like some other startup financial-technology companies (fintechs), such as robo-advisors or lending clubs. "We're a friend of the bank. We're a friend of credit unions," Duncan states. "We are a partner because we believe in our community institutions. They have to figure out how to do digital better. They have to understand how to provide better mobile banking, better online banking, and they need to understand how to market those tools better and market themselves better. There's a lot of value community institutions can bring. They need that better digital presence. That's really important."

In the past year, the company has rolled out three products: mobile banking, online banking and online statements, while raising over $1.2 million in fresh capital. Duncan says that banks have been very responsive to Bankjoy's pitch of providing a monthly subscription service — versus multi-year contracts that their competitors require — which has proven to be a factor in securing its first client. The company plans to scale the business rapidly with a new partnership it will announce soon.

The financial stakes are high because Millennials don't plan on dropping their mobile habit anytime soon. Bankjoy is betting its future on delivering a superior mobile experience that keeps consumers happy.

Anthony Price is the CEO of Connecticut-based LootScout, which counsels small businesses how to raise capital. Reach him at Anthony@LootScout.com.

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