How you treat your customers matters.
But for many banks, the level of service you can expect is directly correlated to your account balance.
That needs to change.
And Archie Ravishankar, Founder and CEO of the challenger bank Cogni, is on a mission to do just that. At Cogni, he’s rising to the challenge with a platform to help the underserved, Gen Z, and everyone else with their financial needs.
What we talked about:
- Why customer service matters
- Why Gen Z are an important demographic to reach
- How digital banks are shaking up finance.
Archie says the impetus for founding Cogni was based on two factors.
- The fundamental changes in how people are living their lives
- The basic principle that every customer should be treated with respect
The gig economy
In the first case, Archie points out that the rise of the gig economy has changed the way people work, live and, of course, their financial habits.
He saw a need for a platform with which the varied users of the modern world could personalize to suit their unique needs.
Right now, the services are out there, but they are too disparate. He envisions Cogni as tying together all of the digital financial tools that a new generation of users can use in a seamless way.
And for him, there was also a personal motivation: He wanted to create the very platform he would have benefited from when first moving to the US.
Trying to get a bank account was exceptionally difficult for him when he first arrived.
Dignity and empathy
Far worse than the difficulty he faced acquiring an account, however, was the prevailing attitude that a customer should be treated in proportion to their bank account balance.
“All users have to be treated with dignity and empathy. Not based on the amount of money they have in their bank.” — Archie Ravishankar
His experience led him to go back to basics and build Cogni with superior customer service for all as the guiding principle.
So, the logical move was to provide all basic services for free. In addition, they have simplified everything for the user and have leaned on real-world users to shape the user experience they provide.
Archie is sure they will be able to provide a better alternative to the legacy banks.
And the company is betting its growth on it.
Serving the underserved
Another key component of Cogni is its mission to serve the underserved.
And when it comes to the financially underserved, Gen Z may be the largest group.
Which is odd, because their spending is high — and growing every day.
“Generation Z spend about close to $700 billion in discretionary spend. While they don’t consume complicated financial products, they spend a lot of money on their lifestyle and services.” — Archie Ravishankar
Archie has honed in on this rising generation by launching peer-to-peer transfer products — which are all the rage among this cohort — outside of the Cogni ecosystem.
Gen Z may not yet use many complicated products, but their spending habits make these products perfect for their lifestyle.
Challenging legacy banks
The goal with Cogni is to create a financial ecosystem that functions more like an appliance than a financial product.
In the end, he wants the product to be almost invisible to its users, blending into their daily lives like a refrigerator — incredibly useful, but never thought about.
And this is one area legacy banks have failed in.
“The digital banks have enabled a lot of people’s lives, especially the underserved market, a lot better than large banks have.” — Archie Ravishankar
Traditional banking is intrusive. Complicated. And as we’ve already mentioned, ill-equipped to provide a high level of service to every customer.
In many ways, leviathan traditional banks only have themselves to blame.
12 years ago, you might remember the term “too big to fail,” infiltrating the conversation surrounding traditional banks.
These days, in a financial landscape that is rapidly changing — an evolution only being accelerated by COVID — so many new arenas in finance require nimbleness and agility.
And in these areas, despite the significant resources at their disposal, many traditional banks are too big to succeed.
Until next time!