The new platform brings together traditional banking with an interactive feature set which enables users to receive, spend and save money in ways never seen before. It also allows its users to link their social media accounts so they can benefit from features like auto foursquare check-in when they make a purchase, merchant review information, and geo-targeted time specific coupon deals.
With over 16 million students in the US alone, Waspit CEO Richard Steggall set out in 2011, to shift his company's focus from its origins in back-to-bill mobile payments, and focus on the emerging transactional banking needs of the student demographic. He saw the failure and inability of the big banks to evolve at the same pace as the emerging habits and trends of students as Waspit's opportunity.
Steggall said,“Students are becoming increasingly mobile, not just in the way they communicate via their phones and social media accounts, but the way in which they conduct and manage their lives. Plans are made and changed on the run, appointments are made - parties planned, even the last minute payment of a cell phone bill is done minutes before class and an hour before it is due to be suspended.” While there are many new banking apps that may, in some ways, appeal to a younger and more mobile demographic, there is no single bank or organization providing a complete FDIC insured solution that relates to the lifestyle of today's student.
Waspit CMO Kasey Kaplan said,“It isn't as though there are any one or two features that set Waspit apart from the Banks. It’s the entire platform. Very simply, the interactive and intuitive nature of Waspit's platform is like the arrival of 'Banking 2.0’.” Starting with mobile payments which allow users to tap their phone at the point of sale, to the split-the-bill function in Waspit’s iOS and Android mobile apps, instant and secure peer-to-peer payments, or ACH and Bill Pay capabilities, Waspit delivers every transactional capability a student of today wants. Coupled with the fresh and highly interactive user interface for both web access and mobile apps, Waspit enables a dynamic interaction between a user, their funds and the venues they select to spend those funds.
There is more to Waspit though than transactional banking. There is a gamification layer to the platform which encourages users to share their experiences at each venue. They do this by uploading images of the venue, rating their experience, posting reviews, or being the first to link the merchant’s web address. All of this information is then anonymously captured by Waspit and made available to other users who may be searching for similar venues to go to. Waspit's unique algorithm also captures third party information from review sites like Yelp and foursquare, combines that data with that created by its own users, and makes it available to its users.
Waspit's gamification layer extends to its user referral program as well as transactions completed through the platform, but more interestingly it also applies to the Waspit Shop. This is where users can automatically or manually retrieve geo-targeted coupons that relate to their location and activities at a particular time of any given day. Kaplan said,“While this information remains completely anonymous to the outside world, Waspit's algorithm, as time goes on, gets to know where a user spends their money, on what, and at what time on any particular day. This gives Waspit one of the most unique abilities to target specific coupon deals to that user, and avoids so-called deal fatigue by only providing minimal but qualified messaging to them.”
In maintaining its 2.0 approach, Waspit (waspit.me) has also done away with the unnecessary physical presence, and instead interacts with its users through its various interfaces or the more traditional customer service lines. Namely, Waspit has embarked upon a forward thinking gorilla marketing approach which simply isn't an option for the banks thanks to the Cards Act of 2009. Waspit currently has 65 paid Brand Ambassadors at 22 colleges, and is expecting to be on 60 college campuses by years end. Its Brand Ambassadors are primarily responsible for generating brand awareness of the product, organizing Waspit sponsored events, but also being the drivers of user sign-ups. The program came into effect at the commencement of this semester and has already seen several thousand pre-registrations. Waspit is expecting the program to deliver 30,000 users by the end of Q2 2013 before it then broadens its route to market.
Kaplan went on to say,“The user experience commences with a very short sign-up process where the essential information is captured, and where the user can choose just how interactive they want their account to be. They get to select which service options they want, and this determines just what the cost may be. But for those cost conscious students – no need to worry. The monthly cost ranges from $0.00 to $2.00 per month. Better still though; there are none of the nasty fees like overdrawn fees which some of the big banks still charge. Waspit prides itself on enabling financial responsibility for students, while also being fair, reasonable and completely transparent on its own service pricing.”
Steggall sums up by saying,“Interactive social banking is well and truly where we are all heading. Students and the younger demographic, as is often the way, will ignite this trend and ultimately be the catalyst to a mainstream change to Banking 2.0. We are thrilled to be unveiling this innovation in banking at Finovate Fall.”