How Current’s digital leaders navigate the pandemic

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The digital-only upstart banks, known as

neobanks
, are on a growth tear.

Newly released forecasts from Insider Intelligence show that by the end of next year, 1 in 10 American adults will have a

neobank
Account.

One of the fastest growing neobanks today is New York-based Current, founded in 2015. Our forecast shows Current will have 4.0 million users by the end of 2021, more than double to reach 8.4 million in 2025.

To find out what is behind this rapid growth, Insider Intelligence interviewed two key members of Current’s executive leadership: Adam Hadi, VP of Marketing, and Josh Stephens, VP of Product.

They spoke about the skills needed to lead cross-functional teams and explained how the pandemic has changed their strategy.

Here are some excerpts from our conversation:


The following has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Insider Intelligence (II): Have you faced any marketing issues in the past year and have they affected your priorities in any way?

Current: Adam Hadi, Emma Quigley and Jeremy Barbara

Adam Hadi, Vice President of Marketing at Current.

Current


Adam Hadi (AH): We’re a new brand in the space just a few years ago, and building trust is a huge challenge. Legacy brands like Wells Fargo, Citibank, and Chase have been around for a very long time and have terrible reputations, but there is a sense of security that goes with them. They have been around for 120 years. So, for a new brand like us, stepping into the space and asking the customer who is largely paying a paycheck from their paycheck to their direct deposit requires a high level of trust. It is a big challenge that we are always trying to overcome.

II: Did Current intend to target first-time bank account holders, or was this a strategy that developed naturally?

AH: It’s pretty intentional. Banking is a high retention industry, so it is to our advantage that we can acquire people from their first bank account, but it’s a bit of a double-edged sword. It also means that it could be quite expensive to bring in someone. We have an advantage over the younger generations, but traditional banks have also made it quite easy to select clients who do not fit their business model, which sets us up well in both cases.

II: If you had to write a job description for yourself, what do you think would be the main elements of your role?

Josh_Stephens_Current

Josh Stephens, Vice President of Products at Current.

Insider Information


Josh Stephens (JS): For any product manager, there is a huge component of empathy and strategic vision. There is the ability of an artist to cut through a lot of noise to understand the real needs and problems of the users, and have a framework to look for a solution that can solve those needs.

… [My role is] about providing that framework to serve as benchmarks for the rest of the team to come up with the right kinds of product features, product services, and ultimately a strategic brand map to execute against those solutions. . .

II: If you had to look forward to five years, what would Current’s success look like?

JS: I often say, the way you spend your money is the way you live your life. Whether it’s where you go to eat, who you interact with, whether or not you can go on vacation, where you shop or how you get to work, these are all financial decisions that need to be considered. . . I think traditional banks weren’t good at it, and they weren’t designed for it. Currently, we have the opportunity to participate in this conversation. So if we look five years from now, we hope to be one of the first five institutions in the United States to participate in this discussion.


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