App market intelligence reports show personal finance apps, our “go-to” app category to manage our daily lives, are poised for massive growth, chalking up more than a 1 trillion sessions globally in 2019 alone. But heightened interest doesn’t automatically result in lasting loyalty. Achieving that requires companies to reduce friction in the user journey starting with education and onboarding to help users get the most value out of the app experience. Learn valuable lessons we can apply to all app marketing when our host Peggy Anne Salz catches up with Hernando Rubio Dacosta, CEO & Co-Founder of MOVii, a company leading a digital payments revolution in Colombia. Hernando shares how he architected omnichannel campaigns to educate and engage users throughout the onboarding process, a strategy that saw 63% of users who didn’t finish the onboarding came back to complete it. He also speaks candidly about his personal mission to minimize barriers to financial inclusion and contribute to social development in Colombia. “You run as fast as the dog that is chasing you,” is his mantra as he seeks to push boundaries and transform his society. Inspiring words in our unprecedented times, so listen in and absorb the positive energy.
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It’s also not easy which is why we have this bi-weekly mini-series to give you some guidance, we dive into the dos, the don’ts of retention marketing, lifting the lid on how you can move the needle. And I'm excited to have our guest guide us on this journey because this is what they do, they are experts not only at engaging audiences, winning audiences but also retaining audiences. So, with that, I welcome Hernando Rubio, CEO Co-Founder of MOVii, a company leading a digital payments revolution in Colombia which we’re excited to learn about today, Hernando, so thanks so much for joining us.
HRD Hi, Peggy, thanks for inviting me to your podcast.
PAS I mean, this is amazing and great timing because when we had a talk offline, I was just so impressed and now I'm seeing that you’re also sharing your insights elsewhere, you just started contributing to Forbes, where I also write, so I'm glad that you’re spreading the information, the insights you have. But let’s take a step back for our audience, let’s talk about MOVii, I mean, I said it’s leading a digital payments revolution, that means it’s also a Fintech app but it’s much more and it’s your passion. So tell me about your company.
HRD Thanks, Peggy. Yes, I mean, what we have been doing for the last years is how to use technology to include financially to millions of people that for many years have been not having access to financial services by banks in pretty much everywhere around the world. So, we are taking advantage of that opportunity that it’s in the market because if you take a look, I mean, in the world we have around almost 200 countries and if you take the 20 or 30 countries that are already developed, the rest of us, which is the vast majority, we are all pretty much in the same condition meaning that we have banks for several years, of course, more than 100 years but if you take a deep dive on that, pretty much those banks in emerging markets are offering service pretty much to near 20 to 30% of the population which are the customers that are capable to pay for the services that they have fees for.
But the rest of them, 70 or 80% of the population are people that they cannot afford to pay those fees, the fees that bank charge them, and that’s why they have been not having access to financial inclusion for many years and this, in the middle of the fourth industrial revolution which is the digitalization of things, it’s a shame, it’s a pity because the vast majority of the people all around the world will not have access to good products that are coming through internet and through ecommerce because they don’t have the capacity to pay. So that’s an issue that definitely the world has to focus on.
PAS I mean, when you think about it also, Hernando, and this is the unfortunate time that we’re in but this is going to even be more important financial inclusion in order to have a quality of life in a time where it’s going to be increasingly digital because we’re distancing ourselves, social distancing – that’s what we need to be doing. I’m sure it’s the same situation there, is it not?
HRD It is, it is, it is. Actually, it’s not only because of the coronavirus stuff that we’re passing through this moment, it is also if you take a look over people protesting, making strikes in the streets like in Colombia, in Chile, even in Paris in many countries all around the world, they are all fighting against something, being rebelling against something and they didn’t understand what they were fighting for but they all have one word in their mouth which is ‘Inequality’ – they are trying to be society so inequality.
And if you take a look to Latin America where we are right now, you will see that from the top 10 countries that are more inequality in the world, 8 out of 10 are from Latin America, being Colombia, the fourth most inequality country in the world and that’s a big issue because it’s getting worse, the richer having more money and then the vast majority of the people are not having, and if we don’t do something about it, take a look what is happening in Venezuela, for example, where it’s very easy for a popular guy such as the dictator that they have right now taking this as their flag to say and protest against that.
And when we understand the reasons of inequality, you will see that there are two main reasons – one is lack of education, if I am poor and I don’t educate myself or my kids, I will never get out of poorness, and the second one is lack of access to financial services, specifically loans. If you are like 70% of the people in Latin America but they don’t have access to loans through banks and eventually you need a loan to take your daughter out of a difficult problem such as a problem in the hospital or something like that, sickness, and you don’t have the money, other than try to steal or do something wrong, you go to banks and banks tell you that they cannot give you a loan because they cannot do any scoring or they cannot see you.
You go finally to someone who appears to be your friend which is the shark loans and for the people that have rich and have got into this world of shark loans, we all know that once you get into that world, you never get out of poorness, you only continue increasing the cycle of poorness in the region.
PAS And I can hear you speaking also from unfortunately your own experience, that’s one of the reasons you are so driven to see this financial app succeed which it is, we’ll talk about that, but that is your story as well, is it not?
HRD It is, Peggy, it is. I mean, when I was 21 years old, I needed to resolve a family issue and I need money, I went to banks and of course I was one of the 70% of the people that don’t have access to loans from banks in the country and I get involved with the shark loans and I really know and learn everything from them how they appear to be your friend, give you in a very easy way the money but then when you have to pay, you understand that you’re paying interest from between 500 and 600% per year and you never get out of poorness with that.
And of course, when the date comes and you don’t have the money to pay the interest because normally you never pay capital, you’re always paying interest, they have very special ways to collect the money, effective way to collect the money. So I was part of that process, I was eventually being hit by one of those guys and I swear to god that I was willing to have a revenge about them and it starts by thinking how to kick that guy out again but then I thought a most clever way how to do it and that’s what we’re building in MOVii.
Basically what we’re doing in MOVii, it’s allowing people who don’t have access to financial services to do it in on a very easy way using technology and providing them an app in which they can put easy money on it and using that money to do everything that they cannot do with cash like buying on ecommerce, sending money, receiving money, paying their bills and moving their money in an easy way, how to become visible of the invisible people in order to allow them to have loans because the reason why the vast majority of the people don’t receive loans from banks is not because banks are not willing to give them loans, because giving loans is a great business – it’s because banks and government cannot see them.
So everything is related in how to become visible, the invisible people, and what we’re doing here is that with the wallet that we’re putting in their hands, we are allowing them to do all those transactions but now we can see them because regardless how poor you are, the people pay their bus or top up their cards for paying the bus, they send money, they receive welfare payments, they pay their bills so basically all those transactions they are doing in cash so with MOVii now they can do it in a digital way and through that, with a face under the account, now we can use all that data to start generating systems and algorithms to provide loans for the vast majority of the people.
PAS And bring more people in, I mean, it’s this beautiful cycle of inclusion because we have a digital, we have an app, we have a way to reach people, we have a way to educate users, app users, customers and be a part of society. Once you have a stake in society, you can also, you know, improve your situation, you can also better the situation for family and others and overall just society. I’m just curious, we do have to go to a break in just a moment but just a high level quick view – your app, it started when and you have how many users?
HRD It took us almost two years to get the licence to be a financial institution but then we launched it on February of last year, year 2019 with a minimum viable product and then on May of 2019, we launched with a card so we are almost achieving our first year of operation and we are already reaching half a million users right now.
PAS That’s incredible and I also read that I'm not an expert on your financial system there but you were also the first to be authorised by regulators – that means you’re also definitely ahead of the pack because fintech is a very competitive space. You are the pioneer.
HRD Yes, we were, we were and actually the reason why we were that is because in order to do a massive transformation such as the one we are building with MOVii, you have to do it with the hand of the government, you cannot do it like many others are trying to do without the regulation on your side because this is a big change and you have to have the government on your side.
Fortunately, governments are understanding and they already know the impact of having everyone including financially so that’s why they created a new law which was the law of financial inclusion here in Colombia and basically the objective of that law was to promote companies based on technology, encourage them to offer financial services but through a regulated way which is really important for people because at the end of the day, you are holding money on behalf of customers. So, government needs to take care that the one who is running your money is going to do it in a proper way, your money is going to be safe.
PAS Absolutely. So we do have to go to a break, Hernando, but when we come back, we’ll not only be talking about what your app enables but we’ll be talking about how you educate your app users, lessons that marketers everywhere will want to listen to and benefit from. So don’t go away, we’ll be right back.
And we’re back to Mobile Presence. I’m Peggy Anne Salz, we have Hernando Rubio, CEO of MOVii. And before the break we were talking about, you know, your mission which is about financial inclusion and that is important but you also need to empower people, to educate people to understand how to use apps, how to use a system that they weren’t part of before, they were disenfranchised and now they’re going to be included. So, maybe you can tell me a little bit about the education, the onboarding – I mean, how do you approach it at a high level?
HRD So, we are doing two main in order to change the habit how people make payments using two big weapons. One, great usability, great UX and be free of cost. In terms of usability, an app or a digital experience is like a joke – if you have to explain it, the joke is not worth it. It’s exactly for the product, so you cannot explain things so you have to test a lot, learn about your consumer, learn about the segment that you are …, the type of person that you are looking for and build a product based on what he needs and that’s pretty much what we have been doing here.
PAS But you also have to bring them through, you know, the path, it’s the journey. You have to know where are they understanding, where are they dropping off, how do you engage, how do you reengage, how do you reduce churn and you’ve done all of this successfully but what are some of the ways that you are able to effectively guide your users through the app using, of course, data but also using common sense?
HRD Yes, absolutely, there is not one even customer that wants to be treated as a part of a group so most important part is to treat each one of your customers and make him feel like if you know them very well and in order to do that, you need to have tools. For example, we are using Clevertap which has helped us a lot in order to understand the journey of each one of our customers or at least profile or type of segment of that type of person that we’re reaching. So we are learning how they get into the app, what are they using it for and with that we can understand their journey and how to promote them to complete journeys that they haven’t found from our products.
PAS What’s the impact been as well on, you know, acquisition, when retention is increased, when churn is decreased by nearly 40%, it allows you to also expand how you view not just retention but also getting more users into the funnel as well. What’s been the impact on your bottom line now that you are sort of engaging with the users that you need to be engaging with the way you need to be engaging with them.
HRD I mean, the name of the game as you were saying is not only to have a small cost of acquisition, the name of the game is making retention with them and for us, since we are providing financial services to people without charging them any fee, we don’t charge a monthly fee, we don’t charge a fee for doing it, it’s completely free for users, it’s very important that we make sure that the customers know all the services and products that we have at MOVii.
So basically what we are always is doing, it’s understanding what are the consumers doing with us, what type of services are they asking, that they are using up to this moment and make sure that they understand that they have other services that they can do in order to generate more revenues and let us be sustainable.
So what we do with different tools including Clevertap is that we understand what they are doing day by day and if they have a problem in which they get stuck into the funnel and they stop doing something, we immediately know, we are not money throwing but the word is money throwing, we’re instrumenting by different tools and we understand when they get stuck and what type of things we can do in order to help them to go with frictionless through the app and help them to do the services and transactions that they want to do and that’s critical.
And we have seen and learned that then when you help people and people get stuck, for example, in the funnel, if the registration process, we were finding that since we have to do KYC which means that they have to take an ID, a photo of their ID and they have to make a selfie to make sure that your face is according to the information that you have on your ID, to do all the AML in KYC, we were seeing that people were getting stuck there so as soon as it happened, for example with Clevertap that we see that they are stuck in that process, then we immediately can send something saying that we understand why they get stuck and we are helping them to continue in the funnel.
With that, not only we don’t lose the customer but also that customer had the feeling that okay, MOVii is thinking about me, they really know, they’re always seeing when I have a problem and that’s the best consumer service that they can feel.
PAS And you do that with push or other channels, what channels are working for you?
HRD We’re doing it with push.
PAS And you mentioned that feeling that you care, that you’re watching, that you’re trying to get them through the funnel. I talked about churn before but what is maybe another impact of this – are you seeing high engagement, open rates with the push notifications that they are really making a difference?
HRD I mean, push notification are helping us a lot to reduce churn. When we started our churn was more than 17% per month and actually at this moment, we have been capable to reduce churn down to 3% per month which is a great number for this type of application. Because again, if you feel as a customer, when you feel that you have a problem and then you don’t have to call someone for solving the issue like the ways that you used to do on the bank, but in this case you’re feeling that with a push notification, they know where you are and they send you the solution even though you haven’t called – people have this moment where they feel, ‘Wow, that’s great, they’re listening to me, I don’t have to call them, I don’t have to text them, I don’t have to do nothing, they’re always thinking about and they solved me a solution and sent me a solution immediately as soon as I needed it’.
PAS And absolutely, and that’s removing the friction which is what every marketer everywhere is struggling with. This is the way to bring people into the funnel but also give them a journey that fits their needs, their profile, their segmentation, what they need at the moment. We do have to go, speaking of moments, Hernando, we do have to go to a break this moment but I'm excited to bring you back to also understand what is the result of changing the habits of your users? I’m sure you have some fantastic hero stories to share how you’ve impacted people’s lives, so don’t go away, we’ll be right back after the break.
And we’re back to Mobile Presence. I’m Peggy Anne Salz from Mobile Groove, we have Hernando Rubio, and Hernando, it’s a great show to hear just what you’ve been able to do. We talk about how mobile is for good and then we get sort of stuck in things like mobile content and games and stuff and we don’t realise what impact it can have on people. I mean, you’ve changed people’s habits, I would imagine you’re changing their lives – do you have some examples to share of how your app is doing exactly that, what it set out to do, financial inclusion?
Yes, absolutely. There is a very bad indicator that we have here is that only 2.4 million people out of 50 million that are in the country, which means only 5% of the people right now are doing transactions on ecommerce and that’s because even though we have 70% of the people having the capacity to see on the internet, they have internet access, only 5% of the people have a credit card to pay.
And right now, since we are seeing a lot of good products, training for example, like Coursera, you can train yourself paying a few bucks and that can change your life through education, we are allowing thousands of people to now be capable to pay. So one very good indicator that we have that show us through numbers that we are doing what we’re supposed to do on financial inclusion is that normally from total debit cards that are in the market here in Colombia, roughly only 8% of transactions are being used for doing ecommerce payments. In MOVii cards, MOVii account, 70% of total transactions are being used for doing ecommerce.
So people that doesn’t have access to pay online, to pay on ecommerce, now they understand that by downloading MOVii apps for the card, now they have finally the possibility to buy a training or any product that helps their lives through ecommerce. So that’s great for us and shows us that we’re going in the way that we wanted to do regarding financial inclusion.
Absolutely and then of course ecommerce readiness, I’ve read those reports, you know, when you have that, everything else follows because you can take advantage of all the ways that you can improve your life and do things digitally because that’s the whole idea – you don’t have to do it physically. We talked before about how you’re using certain channels - specifically push - to get people to onboard, to educate them about the benefits of using your app. What do you use to encourage that first transaction because that’s a very high percentage and that’s something all marketers want to understand. It’s one thing to get the user in and engage them, it’s another when they take their first action. What works for you?
Normally what people are doing right now, it’s doing welcome balance or giving money for free and I really hate that because I don’t think that we should be on the way of like injecting opium to zombies. Now, because people get used to that and then you have a lot of zombies that are only willing to do transactions with you, the only reason why because if you give money for free, we’re not in that business, we are in the business of learning from the type of consumers that we have.
So basically what we do is that we understand consumer by consumer, when for example it’s the next electricity bill that you have to pay, so with that data, we’re learning when is the next moment that you need and we are anticipating that and sending a push notification saying ‘Remember that tomorrow you will have to pay your bill so why don’t you do it through MOVii?’
So in that case, we are not activating users by giving money for free, which takes you to a position to have a huge burn rate, we are more in the business of using data to understand when that consumer needs a reminder to help them to be more productive. Like the example that I just did.
And it makes perfect sense because I’ve read it so many times, in sort of brand customer relationship data and research – it is about being useful, that is what’s going to last, it’s about being valuable. And this has been a very valuable exchange, a very valuable interview, Hernando, I can’t thank you enough for being on the show and for sharing your insights today.
Thanks, Peggy, for inviting me and I think that if we all share, things are changing very quickly and we all need to change and to share our experience to help other people in other interviews to have success in their products that they’re building. So think about like the one that you are doing which is allowing some of interviewees such as myself to share their successes, share their failures, will help a lot of other entrepreneurs to have success in their businesses.
Well, I have to say we just touched the surface, I’d love to have you back, I’m definitely planning to write about you at Forbes, but you do that yourself, you also write articles over there where you’re sharing your insights. What’s the best way for our audience to stay in touch with you?
The best way – you can look for me at LinkedIn and of course I'm very active in social networks so they can request for the invitation, I will be more than happy to share my thoughts with them as well.
Okay, and of course if you want to stay in touch with me or be a guest or sponsor on Mobile Presence, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, mobilegroove.com is also where you can find my portfolio of content marketing and app marketing services. And of course we’ll have more in this series and how you can contact tour guest if you go to the show notes and if you’re looking to supercharge your retention strategy, then contact Clevertap at clevertap.com.
This is a wrap of yet another episode of Mobile Presence and our special mini-series. You can check out this and all earlier episodes of the show by going to wmr.fm or you can find our shows on iTunes, Stitcher, Spreaker, Spotify and iheartRadio simply by searching Mobile Presence. So, until next time – remember - every minute is mobile, so make every minute count. We’ll see you soon.