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HT Mobile Apps: Helping Community Banks Capture Consumers’ Attention

After a decade in banking and customer service, Kathleen Craig began researching ways for community banks to better engage with their accountholders. Craig’s passion for technology led her to create HTMA Holdings, Inc.

In January 2013, she launched the company’s first product, Banker Jr.Craig was inspired to create Banker Jr. to address the need for improved financial literacy for children. With personal finances not covered in most schools and the majority (76 percent) of parents reluctant to discuss finances with their children, there was a void that needed to be filled to set the next generation on the path to financial wellness.

The free mobile application is designed to demonstrate the benefits of saving to children ages threeto twelve years old as well as give financial institutions the opportunity to tap into their up and coming customer base through a branded platform. Banker Jr. is now licensed by financial institutions in 22states.

Recently, Marquette Savings Bank launched Mpowered™ Savers,a white labeled version of HTMA’s Banker Jr. platform, to help improve children’s financial literacy by teaching them how to set savings goals and monitor their accounts while playing interactive and informative games. With varying degrees of difficultly, the games and lessons ensure that users are engaged as they play and learn important financial skills.

“I was very impressed with the HTMA team. They were very organized – we were told what to expect and the team delivered on time,” said Lisa Lopez, Senior Vice President of Deposit Operations of Marquette Savings Bank. “The quality of the product, ease of implementation and all the reports they have made available to us for tracking app usage have created an above average experience.”

Lopez continued, “Our community loves Mpowered™ Savers too, especially our schools. We have found that the teachers recognize that financial literacy is missing from their students’ curriculum, and with the platform, we have a way to help fill this void. We are excited to partner with HTMA and look forward to helping set children on the path to financial wellness with Mpowered™ Savers.”

After the success of Banker Jr., Craig set her sights on the needs of the Millennial market. Business Insider reported that more than half of Millennials do not have a retirement account and that the average net worth of a Millennial was less than $8,000. While their findings showed that Millennials want to prioritize savings, many did not actively save or know how to start. Over the last few years, HTMA has conducted extensive research to better understand these needs,inspiring the company’s next innovation – Plinqit.

Plinqit is a brandable, mobile-first platform that is elegant and highly powerful at the same time. Unlike any other savings app available on the market today, Plinqit’s patent-pending Build Skills™ pays users for engaging with content, creating higher user engagement for community banks and improved financial literacy for its customers with a reward.

In 2019, Plinqit saw substantially higher user engagement (55 percent on average) compared to other finance apps that have an average engagement rate of only 36.3 percent. Since its launch in 2018, more than half of Plinqit users have completed their savings goal with the majority of those users starting new goals to continue saving with Plinqit. This increased interaction with the app contributed to rapid growth with total Plinqit deposit growth increasing by 287 percent by the end of last year.

With the savings platform’s success, the company has increased partnerships, now serving clients in over 20 states from $26 million to over $40 billion in assets.One recent bank to partner with HTMA to offer Plinqit is Bank Michigan.

To find a new,cost effective customer acquisition tool that could help attract and retain the Millennial market, the bank launched Plinqit. The app enables Bank Michigan to deepen its relationships with existing customers and attract new ones.

“Bank Michigan’s core belief is to always provide value to the communities we serve,” said Richard C. Northrup, III, President and CEO of Bank Michigan. “Plinqit will offer our current and prospective customers the opportunity to grow their savings and attain financial freedom through the app. As our customers become more familiar with Plinqit and build their financial skills, we expect to see growth in our customer engagement and acquisition.”

The app’s success has attracted the attention of the financial industry. In 2019, Plinqit was selected as a finalist for Bank Director’s Best of FinXTech Awards, recognizing its innovative methods to encourage saving and increase customer engagement. The savings platform was also featured at Finovate Fall.

Craig’s passion for financial technology and education has continued to drive HTMA’s growth. In 2019, HTMA expanded its offerings to include Hip Pocket™,a platform that engages mobile and website visitors by using social influence and personalized consultation to generate new, qualified mortgage and retirement leads.

A great complement to HTMA’s existing range of products, Hip Pocket empowers customers to grow their knowledge of personal finances while also helping financial institutions provide better digital offerings. The platform was created to help consumers save money and facilitate deeper connections between community banks and its customers.

After success with Plinqit, ChoiceOne Bank, an early adopter of HTMA products, decided to broaden its relationship with the companyand began piloting Hip Pocket.

“Our customers love Plinqit, and they continue to keep saving and engaging because of the app’s rewards and a great user experience,” said Adom Greenland, COO of ChoiceOne Bank. “With the savings app, we’ve helped our customers reach their goals and have fostered stronger relationships, evidenced by the number of account openings and the amount saved. We are impressed with the success we have had with Plinqit, so it felt natural to expand our partnership with HTMA and pilot the Hip Pocket product.”

With community banks competing for deposits, cost effective acquisition and revenue optimization are top priorities. HTMA’s portfolio of products, including Banker Jr., Plinqit and Hip Pocket, provide attractive digital offerings that help financial institutions increase deposits, bring in new relationships, generate valuable cross-sell opportunities and increase overall engagement between banks and customers.

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