P2P Innovation

A Conversation with Andrew Boyajian, Head of Banking for North America, TransferWise

In Financial Services, Industry Solutions, Insights by Paul Brandner

Lessons in bringing fair play to the world of international money transfers and using transparency to empower a growing user base.

Breaking consumers out of ingrained habits and patterns is a real challenge for fintech innovators. However, Andrew Boyajian and his team at Transferwise have been able to chip away at these behaviours by offering a more modern transfer product that suits today’s global citizen. Andrew shares his insights on how fintech players can pry customers out of their comfort zones, generate an impressive following via word-of-mouth and shake up old technical infrastructures for the sake of users.

Carta: In your study of consumer behaviours, what do you think motivates customers to stick to traditional methods?

Andrew Boyajian: Generally I think that customers stick to the comforts of familiar products and settings. You can look beyond customers and think about humans—we’re quite adept at creating patterns in our lives. If you think about it, we all have morning routines or we all have a set way we pack for travel. It’s a trait that helps us define, construct and rationalize an environment around us.

The same thing is absolutely true when we think about customer behaviours. So why would you go to the corner bodega when a fancy Whole Foods has opened right down the street from you? Well, a part of it is that it’s just your ingrained behaviour. It takes some effort to push a customer—a human—out of their predefined processes and behaviours.

Carta: So how do we break these behaviours and successfully launch an alternative experience?

Andrew Boyajian: If you are trying to instigate that new behaviour, you actually need to inspire a customer to create an entirely new pattern. In marketing and in product development, we talk a lot about touch points, which is basically when we directly interact with a customer. Often, multiple touch points are needed to really break a customer out of their set behaviours and bring them into new ones.

Some of my family members will always walk down the same street and always cross at the same point. While others, myself included, might walk two blocks further in response to curiosity. And there’s something that creates this curiosity for us. Maybe it’s a new building on the end of the street, maybe it’s a new cafe, maybe we haven’t been down the street in a while—but it’s that inkling of curiosity that sparks a new direction.

A product marketing plan needs to do the same thing. It has to be robust enough to really plant that first sense of curiosity, and it also needs to set up cues, reminders or calls to action that link back to it. It has to look at potential customers and understand what touch points you want to have, how many you need (and in which contexts) to really break through to them and convince them to use your product.

Carta: Transferwise takes a very clear and transparent approach with customers. How has this affected your adoption rate amongst users?

Andrew Boyajian: Transparency is a huge aspect of Transferwise. We are transparent in our fee structure, we offer the mid-market rate and we don’t add on to that. Customers love transparency. At the end of the day, it’s that simple. That love spreads through word-of-mouth.

Word-of-mouth is a great driver for our growth—our customers are excited to have this fair alternative. It’s empowering as well as exhilarating—customers feel like they’ve discovered an area that may have taken advantage of them in the past and they’re taking steps to rectify that.

Carta: How do you open consumers to new “bank lite” products and retain their loyalty?

Andrew Boyajian: With the ease of access to information, skepticism and savviness have drastically increased among consumers, which is a good thing. Transferwise opens customers to a new way of moving money by stressing our advantages such as our cost, coverage, conveniences and speed.

If as a business you’re capable of creating a curiosity and a hook, eventually customers are going to expand and change their patterns. That’s the first step, but a company or product will also always need to continue to prove itself and not fall into complacency—you always need to focus on constantly bettering the product experience, essentially.

Carta: What are some of the most pressing inefficiencies in the payment ecosystem that need to be addressed by banks and bank disruptors?

Andrew Boyajian: I think that some of the largest inefficiencies that we have are actually among the payment systems that we have in place. A lot of our technical infrastructure is old—it works, and it works really well, but it probably doesn’t reflect the modern customer and their preferences.

For example, in the US we’re still very slow to come around to an actual 24/7 payment system. You can see some people exploring alternative avenues, but by and large, across the entire payment ecosystem, there hasn’t really been a great answer to that. Some products can sit on top of these legacy systems and mimic the benefits of the idea of a 24/7 solution, but the technology is still relatively old and eventually those need to be addressed. There are plenty of other markets in the world that have already addressed that and have much better systems in place.