Warm Customer Engagement for Digital Financial Services

Author: Dante Cassanego

Mobile Consumer Protections: Maximizing Opportunity, Minimizing Risk

September 5, 2014

Posted by Dante Cassanego

There is one lie that almost all of us have told multiple times in our lives: “I have read and understand the above terms and conditions.”

Buried somewhere in pages of fine print preceding this statement are explanations of our consumer protections. In an unspoken agreement, the writers of the contract pretend to explain consumer protection in an understandable way and the consumers pretend to understand it.

Pages of fine print create distrust among consumers. Juntos is working with our partner banks on a different approach to consumer protection that builds trust in order to increase account engagement.

As the 2014 Responsible Finance Forum highlighted, digital finance presents both opportunities and risks. We seek to maximize the opportunities for our partners while minimizing the risks for their customers, who are our users. We build trust between our partners and their customers by engaging our users in a warm, personalized conversation using an automated messaging platform. These messages turn any phone in the world into a financial coach that drives financial habit creation to increase usage of accounts.

In contrast to the fine print contract, we help our partners provide information bit by bit, message by message. Our users deepen their understanding about their rights and the costs over time and in context. In addition, although it may seem counter-intuitive, our experience has shown that making costs clear and giving users information about how they can “exit” actually increases adoption of a product.

Ours is a slower approach to consumer protection. It is more difficult. But providing consumer protection information within messages designed to change behavior leads to more informed decisions, greater trust, and increased use of products among consumers.

Financial Inclusion 2014: MasterCard Foundation Addresses a Growing Concern

August 22, 2014

Posted by Dante Cassanego

This is an excerpt from the blog of Carol Realini, a mobile banking pioneer, an expert in financial service innovation and a member of the Juntos Finanzas board.

In theory, financial services should be available to everyone, regardless of economic status. However, reality paints a different picture. The lack of financial inclusion that extends to all classes is a serious cause of concern, which has prompted MasterCard to host the MasterCard Foundation Symposium on Financial Inclusion. Held in Turin, Italy from July 16 to 18, this symposium focused on the fact that there are still at least 2.5 billion people who don’t have affordable and convenient access to financial services despite modern technology. Big-name speakers discussed ways to reach out to excluded groups in spite of the challenges and issues that hinder their progress. While this task isn’t easy, it’s clear that the symposium recognized the need to address the problem of financial exclusion in a modern and connected world where inclusion should be the default.

To read more about the innovative solutions that were highlighted at the Symposium, read Carol’s full post:

Redefining Relationship

August 8, 2014

Posted by Dante Cassanego

8.4 million and counting. That’s how many views this video uploaded by TD Canada has gotten in two weeks. The video shows customers’ reactions when TD changed their ATMs across Canada “Automated Thanking Machines” for a day.


The machines greet customers by name and begin a two-way conversation. As the conversation continues, the customers are surprised with personalized gifts. A mother receives piggy banks and $1,000 to start an education savings plan for each of her children plus tickets to DisneyLand. A die-hard Blue Jays fan gets a personalized jersey and is greeted by Jose Bautista who tells him he’ll get to throw out a first pitch. Another mother, whose only daughter recently underwent surgery for cancer, receives money and a plane ticket to visit her daughter in Trinidad.

It is easy to see why the video has gone viral. It is heart-warming and inspiring–two adjectives that aren’t often used to describe banks. In fact, Accenture’s Digital Banking Survey found that 71% of customers consider their banking relationship to be transactional rather than relationship driven.

The TD Thanks You videos makes everyone who watches think differently about the relationship TD has with their customers. What if other banks could spark a more permanent, large-scale transformation of how clients view their banking relationship?

At Juntos, our automated messaging platform allows us to create warm customer engagement that has the potential to do just that. Like the conversations that the Automated Thanking Machine had with select clients, the conversations that all users have with Juntos through their phone are personalized and two-way. Through these text message conversations on mobile phones, users begin to talk to their bank in the same way that they talk when messaging their loved ones.

Although Juntos doesn’t gift users with big-ticket items, we do give our users a gift that we believe is at least as transformational. We listen. We give users space to share their goals and dreams, their insecurities and fears. Money is an important tool in these stories so we provide users with personalized financial coaching. These conversations help our users feel that they are not alone because their bank is on their side. This empowers users to feel confidence and control in their financial journeys. And that is a gift that keeps on giving.

Juntos, from the Beginning

October 29, 2013

Posted by Dante Cassanego

Ben Knelman, CEO & Founder

The first time we interviewed Karina and asked her what she does with any money she had left over at the end of a week, she laughed incredulously.  “That’s impossible,” she said.  “I never have money left over.”  A Mexican immigrant in her mid 20s, Karina came to the U.S. about six years ago. She worked as a night shift janitor and earned about $21,000 a year — much more than what she could make in her native Mexico. Yet she struggled, after basic living expenses and sending money to family, to feel like she was making any progress in her own aspirations.

Juntos began as a class project at the Stanford design school: my team worked with Karina and other night shift janitors on campus to prototype tools that would help immigrants with their personal finances. It was a great project, but when the academic quarter ended everyone went their own way. An entire year went by, yet something about that project remained unresolved for me – it always stayed in the back of my mind. I reached out to the janitors again, who I hadn’t seen in a year. When they arrived, Karina told me she had used the tools we had created over the entire year, and had saved over $2,000. Seeing her face and what that meant to her, the changed sense of self that she felt, I knew without words that I had to work on it more – that there was something here that was deeply important and meaningful. That was the moment that launched us into developing the products that eventually evolved into what we do today.

Inspired by Karina, we’re still designing tools that change the story that people all around the world have about themselves and their money – empowering people to feel confidence and control in their financial journeys. I continue to be amazed how even in a very constrained medium (Juntos, for example, has only 160 characters to work with at a time), it is possible to enable conversations and experiences that change not just how people think about their money, but how they feel — conversations that create the space for people to be the people they’ve always wanted to be. And conversations that affirm that people’s individual stories are valued by other people out in the world. This is something that I believe is possible not just for Juntos, but for the industry writ large.

Today Juntos partners with financial institutions to make the Juntos platform available to their clients as a tool to drive customer engagement and increase savings balances. As their customers use the Juntos savings coach, they build new financial behaviors as they work towards personal goals. Harnessing the power of behavioral research, our SMS program motivates the creation of new savings habits, making it easier for users to save. Users tell us not only that this is often the first saving success they have ever experienced, but that they feel believed in – that they no longer feel alone in their financial lives. As a result, not only do end-users build new savings behaviors that they didn’t have before, but the bank also experiences success: an increase in activity rates, customer engagement, and deposits.

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