Social banking for Gen Z – OWWN interview

Wednesday 27 July 2022 10:09 CET | Editor: Vlad Macovei | Interview

Bastian Krautwald, Founder and CEO of OWWN, explains how he is seeking to revolutionise banking for his generation by making banking into a lifestyle that is all about access to information, exchange, peer learning, and managing finances. 

What is OWWN’s story? Please let us know a bit about your company


OWWN is the answer to the financial needs and wishes of a new generation, my generation: Gen Z. 

It was always my vision to revolutionise banking for my generation, so I started by solving an essential piece of the puzzle: student financing. 

In 2016, I founded my first company, deineStudienfinanzierung. Since 2021, deineStudienfinanzierung has been profitable and, thanks to us, over 250.000 students are currently studying without financial worries. 

To better understand the needs of young people, we conducted over 1000 interviews with our users and are now ready to complete the puzzle and disrupt banking for Gen Z – make it a lifestyle topic.

Why did you choose Gen-Z as your target audience and what do you do to get your message spread among the younger generation?

Members of my generation are true digital natives. They own a smartphone from the age of 10 and have their first social media account at 13. By the time they are allowed to open a bank account at 18 years old, digital habits have long since become second nature. 

Next to their digital habits, Gen Z shows a significantly higher affinity for money and investment topics than the rest of the population: 26% have already invested in stocks, compared to just 17% of other generations. For crypto investments, the difference is even more drastic.

Despite the digital and financial affinity, the usage of online banking remains shockingly low: More than 80% of Gen Z still have their primary bank accounts at one of the traditional branch banks that their parents also use. Traditional branch banks often lack a good customer experience and Gen Z frequently express dissatisfaction with current digital processes. 

Digital banks possess all those qualities and offer more user-friendly interfaces. But that’s not enough. 

Our user interviews have revealed that most Gen Z representatives are looking for a lifestyle brand rather than a simple digital banking app. They want personalised banking experiences with product and service recommendations relevant to their unique banking situation. They seek social connections and interactions with peers to better understand and navigate the financial world. And that's exactly what we offer. 

With OWWN we are matching exactly those needs and offer banking in a lifestyle setting:  

From the banking side, the OWWN app delivers a fully digital banking experience. The customer can be disproportionately excited, as we offer a better user experience because it exceeds the expectation particularly strongly. 

Additionally, by allowing customers to use the functions naturally, with the least possible effort, in conjunction with the ability to leverage their social framework, they will always choose the digital path. Simultaneously, we offer the desired guidance and financial literacy by helping the user better understand certain facts (and potential uncertainties) based on the (social) insights we have gained.

Which are the biggest challenges that Gen-Z has to face in terms of banking and how can OWWN help?

My generation is frequently portrayed as arrogant in the media but we are facing myriad challenges: 

The world is changing rapidly through technology and innovation, life is getting faster, and crises are accelerating too. Most of my generation is overwhelmed by the options and choices and complains about the excess of information we are confronted with daily. Keeping track of all this is the biggest challenge. We want to achieve something, but don't know how.

A new study by Deloitte revealed that almost half of Gen Z workers live with financial anxiety every day. More than a quarter (26%) don’t feel confident that they will be able to retire. 

We crave guidance and stability – and stability starts with owning our finances, it starts with OWWN. 

Could you please expand a bit on ‘social banking’ and how is it different from regular, digital banking?

Imagine going on vacation. You probably travel with your partner or your good friends. So you're not just saving money for the trip, but spending money together before, and during the trip. 

How perfect would it be if you could manage everything together, centrally, from your bank account and get the right tips at the right moment, like travel cancellation or overseas health insurance?

So, no matter what it is, finance and banking always occur in a social context. What has so far taken place on different apps is to be bundled with social banking and supplemented by exciting community features. 

This is OWWN. 

What does the future of OWWN look like? Any particular timelines and goals you would like to share? Do you seek to go after other verticals and target groups?

There are currently over 50,000 people on our waiting list, awaiting app access. We opened the app to the first users in May 2022 and are now gradually onboarding new users. Simultaneously, we are talking to and learning from current app users to optimise the app and user experience. Launching the app will be our most significant first milestone.

About Bastian Krautwald

Bastian Krautwald is the CEO and Founder of the student finance platform deineStudienfinanzierung and the social banking app OWWN. Shortly out of his studies, the 25-year-old founded his first fintech at the age of 19, building it into a profitable company generating million in revenues within two years. Now Bastian is developing OWWN, one of the first financial platforms specifically for the new generation including a social scheme. His vision with OWWN: Enable the new generations to live the life they want to live together with their crew.

About OWWN

OWWN is the first social banking app in Europe that combines banking, community, and education in one app. The team aims to make the young generation the 'OWWNers' of their financial development. By combining comprehensive banking services, student finance and exciting community features they offer their generation exactly the financial home they have been looking for. The core team around 25-year-old CEO Bastian Krautwald started in 2018 with a platform for student financing, with the team growing to a current headcount of 25 employees at its headquarters in Berlin.

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Keywords: Gen Z, digital banking, fintech
Categories: Banking & Fintech
Companies: Owwn
Countries: Europe
This article is part of category

Banking & Fintech


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