Finn by Chase: A Post-Mortem
Last week Chase announced that it was turning off Finn by Chase after a little more than 12 months live nation-wide. A frequently cited example of digital-only banking, Finn was emblematic of a growing trend among the industry: new digital-only subsidiaries or brands targeting specific customer segments with a more modern banking experience. But these projects are difficult, often dealing with barriers such as:
- Insufficient autonomy with its technology environment, built on top of the parent bank.
- Product offerings which aren’t differentiated enough to attract deposits.
- Branding fails to establish trust against parent bank.
- Cultural resistance to support a venture viewed as cannibalistic.
Chase launched Finn as a pilot in St. Louis in October 2017, targeting millennials with a modern, no-fee experience. By June of 2018, it had gone national. The tagline was “spend smarter, save better.” But as quickly and mysteriously as it had arrived, Finn by Chase was gone.
It’s hard to say the digital-only brand “failed” in the traditional sense as it was only given a year to succeed. Still, launching a digital subsidiary is difficult, and Finn is by no means the first experiment in hit the market. I thought it would be interesting to look at Finn by Chase through the lens of some of these past attempts, some of the reasons why digital brands and subsidiary banks fail to gain adoption, and some of the challenges others in the industry looking to launch similar offerings are likely to face.