Are subscription services the future of fintech?
Subscription services are on the rise. During the pandemic, Americans have been spending more time at home and more money on the digital products that make navigating our new normal easier.
More than ever, Americans’ lives are aided by companies like Netflix, Instacart and, of course, Amazon, which reported record-setting earnings from its 2020 Prime Day savings event.
A recent survey even found that spending on subscription services had more than tripled since March, with one in three respondents saying they’d purchased a new online subscription while quarantining.
Now, a new concern lingers: Is the market getting oversaturated? The question doesn’t just apply to streaming services and food delivery companies — it’s an issue financial technology businesses can’t afford to ignore.
As subscriptions become an increasingly alluring business model, fintechs will be forced to consider whether this proven strategy is worth the risk.
Fintechs should take note of subscription services
In the CompareCards survey, two-thirds of respondents said they purchased a new streaming service mainly for entertainment. Still, that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for fintechs to carve out their own space.
Bradley Leimer, co-founder of the financial consulting firm Unconventional Ventures, said he’s certainly seen more fintechs exploring subscription models. As Leimer explained, the financial services industry may have not fully embraced the idea, but it’s “starting to take notice.” Leimer, who has more than 25 years of experience in the industry, believes fintechs can learn a lot from subscription services — provided they’re willing to look in the right place.
One major lesson? Transparency. Subscription services give companies an opportunity to be upfront about their fees, as well as their benefits.
“When we talk about subscriptions, the more clear and more transparent we are, the better,” Leimer said.
Acorns is an easy case study. The microinvesting app offers three subscription levels — lite, personal and family — each with a clearly explained list of features. For what it’s worth, the company added more than 2 million users between March 2019 and March 2020, according to Forbes.
Leimer said fintechs should also take note of the way subscription services collaborate. For example, he pointed out how Amazon users can add an HBO subscription to their Prime Video account, essentially “bundling” two subscriptions into one. Fintechs, Leimer said, could stand to take a page out of that playbook.
“There are a lot of ways to sort of skin that cat — for a fintech company to generate income and for a customer to get value on top of that,” Leimer said.