Tell Me How Much It Costs!
By Alex Johnson
3 Fintech News Stories
#1: Tell Me How Much It Costs!
Rocket Money (formerly Truebill) offers a free version and a premium version of its personal financial management app. Did you know that nowhere on Rocket Money’s main website does it say how much Rocket Money Premium costs?
A little digging in Rocket Money’s Help Center revealed the answer:
We allow members to choose your own price for Premium. You can choose on a sliding scale between $3-$12/month.
Pick my own price, eh? Being a fintech nerd, I had to see this for myself.
Here’s how the price-selecting-portion of the sign-up process went:
- Rocket Money informs me that “We’re in this together” and that I should pay what I think is fair. It gives me the option to pay $10/month (“most people pick $10,” it says) or $9/month, or $11/month, or I have the option to choose a custom amount. Curiously, there is no mention of premium features or what I’m getting by paying a monthly fee.
- I choose to enter a custom amount and am presented with a slider that is preset to $10/month but gives me the option to go as high as $12/month or as low as $4/month or I can pick $0/month (although this causes the UI to change from a pleasant blue color to an aggressive orange color). Interestingly, if I choose to pay $4/month or $5/month, I must pay the annual total all upfront rather than paying month-to-month (with the option to cancel).
- I choose $0/month (after all, I’ve never used the app … I don’t know what it’s worth!), and I am taken to a new screen that warns me, “Don’t miss out on premium!” and shares a list of the features that you only get if you pay more than $0/month, which is an odd way to first tell me about the premium version of the product. It gives me one more chance to “choose your price” (big blue button at the bottom) or “skip,” which I presume means that I would just use the free version of the app (the “skip” button is very subtly stashed in the top right corner).
- I pick “choose your price” and am presented with a new slider that is preset to $7/month (“most people pick $7,” it says … wait, I thought most people picked $10?!?), or I can go as low as $3 (it doesn’t warn me this time that picking a low monthly price will require me to pay the full annual price) or up to $12.
I guess the idea is that by doing this, more people might jump right into the premium version of the product rather than trying the free version first? (That doesn’t evince much confidence on Rocket’s part that its premium product is worth upgrading to.) And I guess by requiring people to pay the $3/month, $4/month, and $5/month prices annually; they can coax customers toward the $12 end of the pricing spectrum?
I don’t know, man. This is an awful lot of work for what I would imagine is a marginal gain, at best. And it’s confusing and a bit insulting, to boot.
I like your product! Just tell me how much it costs!
#2: The Go-To Platform for Gen Z?
A neobank in Europe made an acquisition:
Aiming to become “the go-to platform for Gen Z,” circular economy FinTech Twig has acquired Vybe.
The London-based FinTech company rooted in circular economy principles said in a Thursday (Dec. 22) press release that its acquisition of the provider of teen banking services continues its expansion that includes the recent purchases of U.K. companies Loopster and Mobi.market.
I once described Twig as “what you would get if Cash App and Aspiration had a baby and that baby was kidnapped at birth and raised by thredUP.” The basic idea is that, in addition to standard banking products (which they are adding to with the acquisition of Vybe), Twig enables customers to resell their unwanted luxury goods (clothing, electronics, etc.), thus creating a new source of revenue and enabling them to help the environment by participating in the circular economy (in which more goods are reused rather than thrown out).
I like Twig and, as an analyst who spends a lot of time evaluating fintech companies, I appreciate the company’s dedication to standing out in the neobank crowd (if you haven’t already, take a minute and poke around Twig’s website … it’s a trip).
I’m just not convinced it will be able to become “the go-to platform for Gen Z.”
A mistake that marketers frequently make is assuming that some new demographic trend, like “young people care about the environment and think that a circular economy is the future,” will be ubiquitous and permanent. The reality is often more complicated. I’m sure some Gen Zers are passionate believers in the circular economy, but I’m equally sure that there are plenty of them who have never heard of the term. And some of them who care deeply about it today may not care about it nearly as much in five years (consumers’ beliefs tend to fluctuate dramatically as they age).
If Twig wants to go all in on the circular economy, it should widen its lens beyond just Gen Z (there are older people who care about reducing their environmental impact too … shocking!) If it wants to go all in on Gen Z, it should try to address the broader (and constantly changing) scope of things that Gen Zers care about.
Aiming at two targets simultaneously is a sure way to miss.
#3: Sensible Investing for Kids and Teens
Copper, a banking app for kids and teens, added investment capabilities:
Copper … announced today its expansion to Copper Investing, a teen-centric Registered Investment Advisor (RIA). Copper Investing offers accessible, automated investing portfolios for teens to learn about (and actually start) building wealth in a safe environment. Its goal is to financially empower teens for the long term by building and reinforcing real-world learning experiences that help teens grow as investors—not just make money.
My absolute least favorite thing in all of fintech is crypto investing for kids. I despise it.
So, imagine my delight when I read this in Copper’s press release:
All three of Copper’s global equity portfolios do not include bond or crypto exposure and are designed to provide an attractive tradeoff between risk and long-term return through a diversified set of low-cost ETFs.
No crypto! Well done! Just a set of aggressive-leaning stock ETFs! I personally wouldn’t mind seeing bonds in here as an option as well, but I understand it given that Copper’s audience is young adults who will be investing over the long term and can likely handle a bit more risk.
I’m sure it was easier for Copper to go in this direction rather than the crypto/individual stock-picking route, given the current slump in crypto and high-growth stock prices, but still – credit where credit is due. This is the right way to do investing for kids and teens.
2 Fintech Content Recommendations
#1: Fintech in 2023 (by Tanvi Lal) 📚
There’s nothing I enjoy more than stumbling upon a new source of super smart fintech insights. And that’s exactly what happened last week when I read Tanvi Lal’s post on Fintech in 2023.
All of Tanvi’s Takes are great (I’ve been perusing the back catalog), but you should start with this one. It does a wonderful job recapping fintech in 2022 and then laying out some areas to watch in 2023. I was especially intrigued by the sections on verticalized CFO tools and fintech for specific B2B communities.
Smart stuff! Follow Tanvi and read her stuff if you don’t already.
#2: Leading with Context: Credit in the Digital Age (by Jeremy Solomon, Fintech Fundamentals) 📚
I recommended the first post in this series by Nyca Partners when it was first published, and I’m happy to report that part 2 is also very much worth your time.
This post does an excellent job explaining and making the case for contextual underwriting and using more non-traditional data. It also warns of the dangers these innovations could pose to fair lending.
1 Question to Ponder
Setting all of your biases aside and looking at it purely in terms of value, at what price would you buy a Bored Ape?
Prices have been plummeting, and I know these things don’t produce any real cash flows, but is there some base level of long-term value (BAYC IP?) that you’d still be willing to bet on?