Welcome to our new weekly Behind the Idea slot, where each Thursday a FinTech company will explain the thinking behind their innovation.
Last week, gohenry, the prepaid Visa debit card and app for kids aged between 6-18-years old, hit the one million customer milestone across its UK and US territories. Proving that the trend for investing in the financial wellbeing of Gen-Z continues to gain pace. Following years of accelerated growth since its inception in 2012, the company reported an annual turnover of £13m in 2019 as families increasingly look to cashless solutions to help their kids become skilled in money management.
gohenry also revealed that its Gen-Z community has contributed over £227 million to the UK economy since the company launched. With cardholders in the UK earning more than £97m in pocket money, data shows that children are paid in excess of £2.3m for completing tasks around the house. Young people especially seem to be playing a valiant part in propping up the economy from home as unsurprisingly, online spending by gohenry customers is now up 65% during lockdown.
Louise Hill, co-founder and COO at gohenry, is known for creating this new category in the FinTech space.
What has been the gohenry response to financial technology innovations?
We’re built around FinTech. I founded the business with two other parents after realising that there was nothing in society that could help teach my own children about how to be good with money in an increasingly digital world.
I’m a firm believer in learning by doing and the idea for gohenry came about whilst watching my son play in a school football match. I started chatting with two parents about how topping up iTunes and games accounts was getting out of control in my house and how I had started pinning my iTunes invoices to the fridge door to explain to them why their £4 pocket money was now only 50p.
This is where our idea started; to create a service that would empower young people with the freedom and confidence to use and understand money in a safe and increasingly cashless environment.
How has this changed over the past few years?
The change has been in our innovation. On starting up gohenry, we created a new category in FinTech and EduTech and are still the market leaders today thanks to our global community of 1m customers. To do this, we’ve had to keep innovating.
We are built by parents, for parents (and kids) and with parents. We have a very vocal community and we spend a lot of time listening to their feedback and building a product that parents and kids want to use and talk about.
One of these recent additions is our giftlinks feature, which lets friends and family send money direct to a child’s account with a fun note to make giving money that little bit more special – the child can even send a ‘thank you’ note back via the app. During the current lockdown period, this feature has proved extremely popular with almost £1m being sent since social-distancing measures were put in place. This is a 126% increase since the five weeks prior to lockdown, showing the value FinTech can add during these tricky times.
How have you created a culture of change inside the company?
When we chose our brand name gohenry, it really cemented our company culture. We believe the best way to teach is to trust and empower kids to learn by doing – giving them the freedom to go out into the world and give things a ‘go’. And this ethos is something we carry over into our company culture; the people we hire and the agencies we work with.
We have a flat working structure at gohenry where staff of all levels are encouraged to have a go, try something new, and dare to fail so that they can achieve. It’s only through failure that you can learn and build on the best approach. This applies to empowering children to learn by doing in a safe environment with their gohenry card too. As our CEO, Alex Zivoder, once put it; it’s better to make a £20 mistake aged 7 than a £2,000 one aged 27.
What FinTech ideas have been implemented?
Lots! Our whole product is built around FinTech. We are all about making learning the four pillars of good money management – earn, save, spend, and give – a fun and interactive experience. Children can show off their independent style with a range of card designs that can be personalised in their name – e.g. ‘goalice’ or ‘gosydney’. The child app empowers children to manage their money responsibly through features such as setting savings goals for the latest must-have, donating a percentage of their pocket money to our charity partner, the NSPCC, and monitoring their available spend.
The parent app meanwhile, allows adults to easily pay pocket money direct to their children’s account and agree limits on how much can be spent and where (e.g. online, in-store, or at an ATM). Parents can also receive real-time notifications showing how much a child has spent and where, as well as set tasks such as washing the car to encourage children to earn their pocket money – or top it up!
This is all made possible through FinTech.
What benefits have you seen from FinTech adoption?
Last summer, we launched our inaugural Youth Economy Report, which looked at the spending, saving, and earning habits of Gen-Z. It’s the biggest report of its kind, based on 75,000 gohenry children. The results were fascinating and provided a real insight into how 6-18-year-olds are already feeding into the digital economy. One of the biggest take-outs for me was that kids are saving. Gen-Z saves 13% of their earnings; almost three times higher than the UK Household Saving Rate.
And, whilst the current situation is accelerating the move to a cashless society, Gen-Z is already leading this trend. According to our report, Gen-Z will almost always choose to go cashless, with only 14% of 6-18 year-olds’ spending in cash. As well as being the first digital natives, this generation is therefore likely to be the first cashless natives too. The key thing is to make sure they’re learning to manage their money from an early age so that when they go out into the world they’ve got the money skills they need to navigate it successfully.
Do you see any other industry challenges on the horizon?
The current Covid-19 situation is the biggest challenge any industry has faced in our lifetime. We’re fortunate in the fact that gohenry is a lean business with a firmly-established customer base. Like all companies, we are looking at how we best address the current challenges presented by the global crisis. We have the advantage of being in a strong financial position after record-breaking crowdfunding rounds with Crowdcube in the past two years and will be launching a number of new products over the next few months, which will further strengthen our offer.
Can these challenges be aided by FinTech?
Absolutely. Technology brings with it the opportunity to manage money in a way no previous generation of children has had before. Unsurprisingly, we have noticed a sharp fall in global shop and ATM transactions accompanied by an increase in online transactions since social restrictions came into place.
As a service designed to help kids manage money in a cashless society, we are well-positioned to help our young customers move away from cash to digital spend as social distancing accelerates a change in how we all interact with money.
Our mission is even more important today than it was back in 2012 when we first launched – it’s a vital life skill – making millions of kids good with money.