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Battle for Consumer Attention: Fintech Startups Surge Ahead in Awareness Race

Traditional banks are finding themselves in a race to maintain relevance against the burgeoning presence of fintech startups, according to a recent market intelligence report by Hearts & Wallets, a data and benchmarking firm.

Its report sheds light on consumer perceptions and adoption of technology-powered saving and investing solutions, revealing that fintech newcomers like Robinhood, Chime, SoFi and Acorns lead in generating brand awareness across households in the US.

However, the report also acknowledges the success of traditional banks such as JP Morgan Wealth Plan and Marcus by Goldman Sachs in driving trial with money among existing customers.

Insights

Hearts & Wallets examines consumer awareness, interest and trial of 55 technology-powered saving and investing solutions – including both fintech/robo new entrants and offerings from traditional financial services firms – and tracks growth since 2015.

Nationally, the awareness of technology-powered saving and investing solutions has surged, with nearly 80 per cent of households now informed about these offerings, a significant increase from 36 per cent in 2015.

Among the six capabilities provided by these solutions, new entrants predominantly prioritise saving, cryptocurrency, and lending, whereas traditional firms primarily emphasise investment, planning and human advisors.

Notably, awareness of new entrants surpasses that of new offerings from established firms, with 69 per cent of households aware of new entrants compared to 59 per cent for traditional firms. This trend is particularly pronounced among younger households, especially those under the age of 35.

Robinhood leads the pack in consumer awareness with 40 per cent, closely followed by Chime at 39 per cent, SoFi at 34 per cent and Acorns at 31 per cent. Notably, new entrants outshine established firms in terms of awareness levels.

Among offerings from traditional firms, JP Morgan Wealth Plan holds a 19 per cent awareness rate, while Marcus by Goldman Sachs trails slightly behind at 15 per cent. Awareness statistics exhibit variations across different wealth and age demographics.

Robinhood dominates awareness among households with investable assets exceeding $1million, commanding a substantial 42 per cent awareness rate, and also leads among households with assets ranging from $100,000 to under $1million, with a 39 per cent awareness rate. Similarly, Marcus by Goldman Sachs leads in awareness among households with investable assets exceeding $1million.

The race to dollars

“Awareness of these new solutions is up and growing,” says Laura Varas, CEO and founder at Hearts & Wallets. “With higher interest rates, consumers are receptive to ‘cash’ and saving capabilities, which seem new after 10 years of interest rates at zero. Offerings that emphasise these ‘new’ capabilities in their positioning and promotion are generating higher awareness than offerings that do not, but scale is what matters when converting awareness into trial.”

While Amber Katris, Hearts & Wallets subject matter expert and report co-author, also added: “Traditional financial services firms should analyze the competitive opportunities and threats of increasing consumer consideration of new solutions, especially firms currently without such offerings.

“Partnering to provide these offerings may make sense when considered in relation to your firm’s capabilities and current competitive position and can offer the scale required to convert awareness into monied trial.”

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