Reflecting on Our First Six Months of Being LIVE!

By: Aaron Frank on 19 January 2017

In case you were wondering, building a credit card company is a difficult endeavor - it’s probably the most complicated mass market product in one of the most heavily regulated industries - but it has been a rewarding journey. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

We’ve found that building a great product in this space has allowed us to hone in on four pillars of our business (below) and learn an incredible amount (further below). By focusing on the four pillars, we strive to provide unparalleled value to our cardholders while building durable advantages in our business:

  1. Radical Transparency
    We want to be direct in all our interactions with our cardholders and shine more light on how credit cards work, aka "the only trillion dollar industry where nothing is written down."
  2. Delighting our cardholders
    We focus on the details, especially the nitty-gritty ones, and work to go above and beyond in everything we do.
  3. Rebuilding for a digital experience
    We are changing the way customers interact with their credit card, when the phone is the new wallet, and the plastic card is less important.
  4. Customer Advocacy
    We aim to rebuild trust in an industry where customers are rightfully skeptical, and work to have our customers' backs by looking out for their best interest.

As promised, in the spirit of transparency (pillar #1 above), we want to share a bit about what we’ve learned in the last 6 months:

  • No two customers are alike...
    • This should be obvious, but it becomes even more important when you think about credit cards and the role they play in personal finances. Every person has different credit history, transaction behavior, payment behavior, alert preferences and life circumstances, and we're doing our best to treat every cardholder as an individual. We are constantly tweaking pieces of our experience to feel more custom-tailored, and hope you like what we're doing.
  • Fraudsters gonna try!
    • Since we launched, we've caught a number of fraudulent applications and prevented tens of thousands of dollars in fraud. We have sophisticated systems in place that allow us to catch bad actors, both when they submit an application under a compromised identity or when they make a purchase with one of our customers' compromised card numbers, and we're having fun diving deep on new tactics fraudsters are attempting to use to scam credit card companies and their cardholders. We're also glad Final is working as expected, and blocking a lot of fraud that would go through and cause pain on any other card product (merchant-locking a card is a powerful anti-fraud tool).
  • People wanted an Android app, so we gave it to them :)
    • As we were building our product roadmap - with limited resources - more people in the office had iPhones than Androids, so iOS was built first. We understood that this decision didn't sit well with - well, about half of the potential applicants we spoke to - so we worked quickly to launch our Android app. It's a beauty, if we may say so ourselves. We look forward to continuing to innovate on mobile.
  • "Promotions may win quarters, innovation wins decades"1
    • Look no further than Chase's Sapphire Reserve card, which proved that plenty of interest in credit cards is generated by offering free money. Big banks seem to only have promotions in their ‘bag of tricks' and will lose loads of money on promotions like this - Chase is writing down $200-300 million this quarter alone as a result of this "successful" offer.2 There is a decent chance they lose money on this product line, given the required payback period (5.5 years) and the high annual fee (expect high attrition). This type of incentive is not sustainable, and we don't think buying temporary loyalty and purchase volume is the right approach as the primary customer value proposition. We will continue to look to ways we can deliver value to our customers beyond $1000+ sign up bonuses.
  • Our cardholders like us... they really like us!
    • We've heard so much wonderful feedback that we're on the right track - someone even said that Final might be the best thing to ever happen to credit cards, and we're ecstatic that you like what we've built to-date.
    • Simultaneously, we've heard from people that they see room for improvement and we agree. We're working hard to advance our offering - within the bounds of the current regulatory environment - and want to encourage you to keep the feedback coming!

What's our outlook?

With an eye towards the 4 pillars and this series of learnings, it’s time to continue building and delighting current (and future) cardholders.

We have an exciting product roadmap set out for 2017, so keep an ear out for a “what’s next” blog post soon!

Aaron Frank
CEO @ Final

1 Credit to the incomparable former CEO of Procter & Gamble, Bob McDonald
2 Dimon Says New Sapphire Card Cuts Profit by Up to $300 Million in Quarter