Our Take on the T-Mobile and BankMobile Partnership

We see examples unfold daily: industry silos are quickly diminishing. From the Wal-Mart-Anthem merger to grocery retailer partnerships with tech companies, organizations—in a relentless pursuit to provide differentiated customer experiences—are quickly realizing that the key to strategic differentiation sits outside the walls of their industries, and are devising partnership strategies accordingly.

For the latest example, look no further than the recent partnership between T-Mobile and BankMobile. Per a recent SEC filing from BankMobile's parent company, Customers Bank, the financial services firm has agreed to provide banking products to the wireless provider’s over 76 million customers.

A closer look at both organizations suggests that T-Mobile and BankMobile fit seamlessly as strategic partners - commonly motivated by a commitment to engage customers with differentiated solutions. In addition to product synergies, both companies share a culture in how they go to market and treat their customers. Being the first of the major wireless carriers to offer an “unlimited” data plan, T-Mobile often touts itself as the “Uncarrier,” focused on solving for traditional pain points in the telecom customer journey. In a relentless pursuit to lead the telecom market, other legacy carriers—including Verizon and AT&T—have followed suit. Interestingly, T-Mobile has also launched 36-month payment plans this week, giving customers unprecedented financing flexibility.

Founded in 2014, BankMobile promises to “build a bank that we would love to use every day.” It is a fully digital bank that offers a series of products, from credit to personal loans, that focuses on helping customers build a “secure financial foundation.” The account setup page of one of the company’s products, BankMobileVibe, reinforces this mission. It offers a clear and intuitive user experience—demonstrating that the company is committed to combating user pain points and designing solutions that help customers achieve their financial aspirations.

We see the recent T-Mobile-BankMobile partnership as a next step in these organizations’ strategic efforts to unleash differentiated products and services that tap into unmet customer needs—enabling customers to acquire telecom products that may have previously been financially unattainable.

Telcom and financial services firms have piloted several partnerships over the past decade, but this is the first major partnership that has come to fruition. Indeed, the combination of telecom and banking moves the world much closer to a “cashless” society which introduces a whole new set of pitfalls and opportunities.

Why are financial services and telecom a great fit? There are several synergies between mobile and banking organizations, ultimately creating strategic opportunities for both companies involved—and enabling more compelling and relevant experiences for customers. More specifically, opportunity for synergy in this space includes:

  • Financing of devices
  • Corporate branded credit cards with exclusive benefits for T-Mobile customers
  • Serving the underbanked
  • Offering international money transfers
  • Small Business Market (SMB) offerings: Simplifying the credit application and loan processes for small businesses, as well as providing tailored digital tools for that market, including mobile devices and IoT solutions

As organizations across industries look ahead, the recent T-Mobile-BankMobile merger should serve as a reminder that—in many instances—traditional industry barriers are being torn down. Unimagined innovation is possible when organizations partner and bring disparate capabilities together to serve unmet customer needs in the age of experience.