NatWest goes niche with acquisition of PFM app for children

The news: NatWest acquired London-based RoosterMoney, a PFM app for children ages 4-17.

The bank will integrate the app’s functions into its product suite over the next several months, and pull in over 130,000 UK customers from the fintech.

More on this: RoosterMoney gradually introduces responsible financial habits to its younger users, and allows adults to monitor and control how their children are using the service.

  • Its Stars feature—which is meant for children ages 3 and up—focuses on concepts related to rewards and earning, and incentivizes good behavior and habits by awarding stars to its users.
  • Users ages 5 and up then graduate to real money through its Virtual Money Tracker, which helps instill good spending and saving practices.
  • Parents can facilitate allowances through its Chores feature, which sets up and tracks progress on tasks assigned to their children.
  • The app also provides parents with real-time spending updates, and enables them to freeze a card and restrict payments to specific businesses.

The bigger picture: UK High Street banks—including NatWest—have long offered time-bound benefits, hoping to persuade consumers to switch their primary bank. The incentives are nearly always monetary, and likely don’t have long-term staying power or inspire continued allegiance:

  • Santander UK is offering a £130 ($166.71) cash incentive to customers who apply for one of the bank’s current accounts.
  • HSBC is offering eligible customers a £110 ($141.06) cash payment, plus £30 ($38.47) for food, either through Uber Eats or The Dining Out Gift Card.
  • Lloyds Bank introduced its own account-switch bonus last month—a £100 ($128.24) giveaway in exchange for one of its two current accounts.

The big takeaway: NatWest’s acquisition and the offering it enables is more than just a flash in a pan, and could provide customers with real value that helps ensure long-term loyalty.

  • Younger age groups in the UK overwhelmingly prefer to bank with traditional institutions like NatWest. RoosterMoney will allow it to better serve this growing cohort as they navigate through financial decisions.
  • It’s also something that its customers want: 88% of parents felt support to help their children practice new skills in a safe space would be helpful, according to research conducted by NatWest.

Engaging with users on useful and important topics at a young age could engender lasting relationships, and potentially position NatWest as a child’s first—and last—bank.

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