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Tribe Based Banking: The Future of Financial Services

Jelle van Schaick

Reading time: 10 mins

There’s a growing need for banking services that go beyond mere transactions. People want to interact with brands that enhance their lives and make them feel connected — not just push products on them. It may be tempting to try to please all markets and audiences, but attempting to appeal to everyone leads to mediocrity and a lack of intense feeling on the part of consumers towards your idea or brand.

One path towards success is to appeal to humans’ inherent desire to be part of a collective – a part of a tribe. By presenting at the forefront of a movement or a cause, you can form a loyal tribe that will grow and advocate your ideas and products.

In this article, we explore how neobanks can be successful at this time of unprecedented change by focusing on tribes. We will focus on why building a tribe around your passion is more likely to bring you success than trying to appeal across all markets, as most traditional banks are still trying to do.

What is a tribe?

There are three major components to a tribe: they are made up of a group of people, centred around a common cause, and with at least one leader who represents and organises the tribe. Above all, however, is the importance of a shared cause within a tribe. It is this shared cause that leads people to fully invest in a tribe, turning unmotivated followers into true believers.

Thanks to the technological advances of the past few decades, specifically the massive expansion of the internet and the subsequent explosion of social media, tribes have gone global and greatly swelled in number. Communities that were hardly visible before can now make themselves heard and connect from all around the world by utilising modern technology, and can become a tight-knit tribe through the connections they develop.

With leadership and a cause, people will follow

How do the rise in global communities and social media-driven tribes impact your business? You too can harness the power of these tribes to create a community that will genuinely advocate for you and your ideas, by word of mouth and crucially, on social media. What is needed from your part is a clear understanding of your cause and a willingness to lead.

In 2008, Kevin Kelly predicted that the internet would allow large squads of people to make a living off their creations. Kelly’s essay, 1,000 True Fans, was written as a way to understand how the internet would affect creative people and entrepreneurs.

What is the best way to obtain this number of enthusiasts for your own tribe? If possible, it’s better to develop your idea with the tribe already in mind, building a service or product that fulfils observed needs or gaps experienced by a community. Building with an existing group in mind makes it significantly easier to continue targeting this community and create a fully-fledged tribe, not to mention you could be the pioneer in creating a new target audience.

Alternatively, if you have the product and are looking for the tribe fit, you must take the time to get to know your audience. What do they yearn for? Which of their needs aren’t being met? Truly understanding your target group and leading the way for them demonstrates leadership and will encourage them to turn from lost potential followers to loyal supporters of your cause.

Proliferation of ideas

As mentioned, it takes about 1.000 devotees to form and keep a movement going. But how do you get this amount of people to believe in you and your cause? At the centre of everything is the cause itself – the idea has to be strong and valid enough to get people to listen and organise under your leadership.

Fundamentally, you must tell a story that people will want to listen to, and share it with those who want to hear it. Your product or service at its core represents an idea that needs to spread and persuade others. As the idea spreads, you can create the tribe by bringing together those who have heard the idea, leading them, and helping spread the idea even further.

At that point, marketing needs to function as a platform from which you will argue for your idea, helping to persuade and bring others from the target audience into the fold. The more the idea spreads, the more chances that someone will become part of your tribe.

Why everyone can form a tribe

It’s never been easier, cheaper, or more effective to connect people than with today’s technology, whether it’s via viral YouTube videos or the most cutting-edge ideas from renowned and inspirational influencers.

Among the most significant internet-related changes in the world is that geography is no longer a barrier to tribal growth. More people are using social media now than ever before: a whopping 3.6 billion people, or about one-third of the world population. Research predicts that the number of social media users will reach 4.4 billion in 2025.

Something to keep in mind when trying to build an online tribe is that communication needs to be both vertical and horizontal. Communication cannot simply be vertical, meaning between you (the leader) and individual tribe members – more importantly, it must also be horizontal, between tribe members.

As today’s technology evolves, you have the opportunity to not only spread your message but also facilitate both vertical and horizontal communication. The amount of websites, blogs, and especially the amount of social media sites, is simply staggering. YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, Flickr, Twitter, MySpace, WhatsApp, Reddit, WeChat, Google+ – the possibilities are endless. You are not only able to spread your cause, but also create an environment for your followers to share ideas, communicate with each other and organise events.

How you can engage with tribes

Are you thinking of putting these ideas into practice? If you want to deliver the benefits of tailor-made outreach and community-building to your customers, here are some ways and examples of how you can strengthen your brand’s connection with niche communities:

1. Show your commitment to the community

Demonstrating a clear and definitive commitment to the communities you wish to serve and support is a very powerful and persuasive strategy. A business that is committed to its market will find it easier to build trust, relationships, and most importantly, brand loyalty. Without showing your commitment, many people won’t consider your efforts as genuine.

How do you make an impact in your community? A great example is Greenwood, an American neobank that focuses on the African-American and Latino communities. Through their Greenwood Gives Back program, the institution demonstrates their understanding and concern for their focus communities. The initiative includes the following:

Providing five meals to a food-insecure family through Goodr for every account opened
Donating $10,000 per month to a Black or Latino-owned business
Sponsoring the Greenwood Cultural Center – promoting, preserving, and celebrating African American culture and heritage
In the past, people from diverse communities have been uncomfortable with legacy banks because they have not been represented, don’t feel empathised with, and aren’t open to communication. In this new era, banks need to be more authentic and receptive to communication. People from these communities will soon be looking for a bank that gives them a sense of representation and openness.

2. Interact and have open communication channels

Communication plays a key role in the success of community banking. Take a look at the Instagram feeds of neobanks such as the LGBTQ-focused Daylight; the migrant-oriented Majority; and Nerve, the neobank for musicians. Who do you think they serve? You can instantly observe which community they see. Communities are built on trust. Members of each community sense this, leading to a strong foundation for a lasting customer-brand relationship.

As people face increasingly complex and uncertain times, there is a greater need for clear and effective communication. Explore opportunities to create digital spaces and forums where communities feel safe and heard while interacting with your brand. These spaces should be private, secure, and moderated, as your customers must feel free to share their thoughts.

3. Ensure community presence in marketing and advertising

One of the most overlooked aspects of marketing is ensuring a strong community presence in your advertising. Don’t just do what you think is expected of you. Get to know your target audience and find out how you can best serve them. Get to the heart of the specific demographic you want to serve, and allow them to be part of the brand story you tell. People won’t bank with you unless you show them you care. So, if you want to have a strong foundation with underserved markets, make sure they play a significant role in your communications.

Launch your own tribe-centred financial services with Intergiro.3d

What if the next generation of digital experience is more than just about financial transactions? Intergiro.3d enables tribes to go beyond transactions and deliver seamless digital experiences. That’s why our mission is focused on creating richer financial experiences shaped by tribes people love.

Not only will the combined support for your mission create a better product-market fit, your customers should also benefit from reduced costs given your ability to capture more of their expenditure across a breadth of products/services. Furthermore, you can be confident that your future innovation will have a greater chance of success, given the support from your particular niche tribe who will be willing to invest in your solutions.

If you want to launch your own financial services centred around your tribe, Intergiro is here to help. Our banking as a service solution, Intergiro.3d, allows you to leverage our state-of-the-art banking infrastructure to build financial services rapidly and at a low cost. Our suite of APIs are designed to help modern businesses build, adapt and thrive in the digital age, whether you are embedding financial services into your product, acquiring card transactions online or creating innovative new card programs.