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News Analysis 25 Jul 2021 - 3 min read

Crypto, commerce, data, loyalty: Banks' Beem It to woo younger set with 'all in one' retail and financial marketplace, avoids traditional finance execs, reunites Mark Britt and Pat Darcy

By Josh McDonnell - Senior Writer

Britt and Darcy: Reward users for data, give them options they don't get elsewhere – win.

Eftpos-owned payment platform Beem It is preparing to woo the younger set with blended cash, crypto and reward points payments, and an ID, data, loyalty and commerce hub – with former Mi9 execs (Microsoft-Nine) Mark Britt and Pat Darcy at the helm. The duo see a major opportunity for brands to tap its 1.4 million users, for whom they intend to build a "lifestyle app" that rewards them fairly for deep data and goes far beyond banking, payments and retail. 

What you need to know:

  • Former Mi9 execs Mark Britt and Pat Darcy have reunited to lead the expansion of Eftpos-owned payment platform Beem It.
  • With 1.4m users the platform is expanding its capabilities into retail, consumer banking and financial management.
  • Targeting the millennial and Gen Z markets, Britt said the platform will become the "all in one" digital wallet for Australian consumers – and aims to create a social commerce hub with major brand opportunities.
  • Beem It is now amassing retail partners and will allow users to pay for products through the platform using a combination of currencies, including loyalty points and cryptocurrency.
  • Darcy says the platform will use the rich data sets it has to create the first "clear and honest" value exchange for consumers, giving greater control over personalised experiences.

This is going to be a way to cover off everything in your life – financial, retail, payments and personal banking. The personalities and profiles that have been hired for the business are not traditional finance executives. That’s been done intentionally by Eftpos in a move to start thinking about the next evolution of fintech through a different lens.

Mark Britt, CEO, Beem It

Double play

Eftpos-owned payment platform Beem It is stepping up its plans to become an all-in-one retail and fintech hub, hiring Mark Britt as its new CEO.

Britt, the former CEO of Nine's digital division Mi9 (now Nine Digital), reunites with former Mi9 and Dentsu executive Patrick Darcy, named Chief Growth Officer earlier this month.

The two are gearing up to accelerate the evolution of the platform, ultimately owned by the big four Australian banking groups with other stakeholders including Coles and Woolworths.

Speaking to Mi3, Britt said Beem It aims to go beyond the payment and instant transfer consumer proposition and develop a modernised and digital form of the traditional wallet – while building out a commerce marketplace, loyalty business, social media app, rich data hub as well as a single ID.

It's aiming to attract its millennial and Gen Z target audience with a non-binary approach to payments, ultimately allowing them to use crypto and rewards points for payment, alongside cash, or a blend of all three. And it aims to properly reward users for their data – thereby incentivising them to use the platform more and more.

The more users, and the more sticky they become, the greater the opportunity for brands.

The business is now engaging with small to medium-sized businesses to help them activate on the platform as merchants, meaning customers can transact with businesses using their payment of choice through the app. Britt sees this as the gateway to becoming a broader consumer platform with retail and advertising capability for aligned brands – and everything in one place for consumers.

“This is going to be a way to cover off everything in your life – financial, retail, payments and personal banking. The personalities and profiles that have been hired for the business are also not traditional finance executives," said Britt.

"That’s been done intentionally by Eftpos in a move to start thinking about the next evolution of fintech through a different lens. This isn’t about technical financial payments – it's about creating a mass-market consumer experience and in many ways a lifestyle app."

A lot of the [incoming digital ad ecosystem] changes are described as regulatory and privacy-led issues, but mostly people want to be in more control. They are starting to get an understanding of the value and revenue that businesses are generating from their data – and they want some of it.

Patrick Darcy, Chief Growth Officer, Beem It

Social commerce

Beem It launched its merchant capabilities this month. Its 1.4 million users can now pay through the app instantly via QR codes, with businesses offering them rewards and special offers.

Britt said the plan is to use the platform to drive deeper relationships between brands and consumers via data-led targeting and through the social network that already exists within Beem It.

"The platform has also been built with a social network at the heart of it, with 1.4 million customers and over half transacting every month," said Britt.

"But the social element has meant almost all the growth has been organic, which doesn’t happen with banking and finance products too often – something we will continue to capitalise on from both a consumer and retailer point of view."

The social element already allows friends on the app to split bills or transfer funds ­– but could eventually see purchases with retailers be split out across multiple users, such as housemates purchasing furniture.

Beem It will also play a major role in Eftpos' plans for connect ID, a purpose-built identification service that will allow merchants or government agencies to verify consumer identities.

That functionality will streamline the way consumers use Beem It to purchase certain products from brands that may require proof of financial security, eventually helping to secure loans or mortgages, said Britt.

We've got to create a rich, personalised experience where we're using the insights and understandings that we have into customers to create relationships with merchants they actually care about.

Patrick Darcy, Chief Growth Officer, Beem It

Data lake

Given the robustness of its data – users must hand over significant personal and financial details in line with anti-laundering regulations, which include passports, driver's licenses and banking information – Beem It aims to become one of the most valuable sources of consumer data in Australia.

Pat Darcy thinks that capability positions Beem It to "disrupt and transform the advertising ecosystem more than any other".

Given the level of data users must hand over in order to use Beem It, he said that means the product will truly offer a "fair and honest" value exchange – a live issue for the ad industry facing major privacy challenges.

"A lot of the [incoming digital ad ecosystem] changes are described as regulatory and privacy-led issues, but mostly people want to be in more control. They are starting to get an understanding of the value and revenue that businesses are generating from their data – and they want some of it," said Darcy.

"I don't think most people want to hide it away and bury it under their bed so that no one ever gets access, they're just learning that they're not getting the same benefit back from it.

"We've got to create a rich, personalised experience where we're using the insights and understandings that we have into customers to create relationships with merchants they actually care about – and use the elegance of the mobile app experience to create an environment that means the consumer is in control of what they see and when they see it."

Britt said this means Beem It – and all businesses – must start thinking about data and transactions from the perspective of the consumer and how they can put them back in control of where their data goes and how it's used. Expecting consumers to hand over their data with little explanation as to why is no longer viable, he added.

Marketing moves

More than 80 per cent of Beem It's growth to date has been word of mouth. The platform is still exploring how it will activate a broader marketing strategy through above the line media channels and remains focused on ramping up B2B activity and signing up more merchants.

Britt and Darcy would not be drawn in on where Beem It currently sat in its search for agencies, with Eftpos using Bohemia for media and Richard's Rose for creative, but talks about the future of its consumer marketing strategy – focused primarily on millennial and Gen Y demographics – are now underway.

However it decides to activate, Britt said the current landscape is ripe for disruption, with multiple and complex loyalty schemes and an uncertain economic outlook making convenience and simplicity a very engaging point of difference.

Purpose is also high on the agenda, with ‘giving back’ a key pillar of the business, and a partnership with youth mental health support charity Batyr already live.

"It’s about being able to save more, earn more (in terms of points and rewards) and ultimately give more. The amount Australians give when it comes to charity is relatively low compared to global standards, yet the passion is extremely high and response in major areas such as the fires or frontline workers is extraordinary," said Britt.

"By having the ‘give more’ mentality embedded in the app, we can also push that in the social dynamics that we are building with Beem It."

"[The buy now, pay later providers] are fighting over the personal banking and bank relationship market. That’s not what we are doing, where we are focused is being the one place you can pay with anything, for anything, anywhere.

Mark Britt, CEO, Beem It

Going after Afterpay?

Britt poured cold water on suggestions that the business will also aim to compete in the increasingly crowded buy now, pay later sector, particularly against Afterpay, which confirmed earlier this year it will enter the personal banking market with the launch of its Money product.

"They are fighting over the personal banking and bank relationship market. That’s not what we are doing. We are focused on being the one place you can pay with anything, for anything, anywhere," said Britt.

"This is less about the relationship with a financial institution but more about ease of daily transactions."

However, Afterpay isn't alone in its ambitions to explore other areas of the fintech sector, with Eftpos stakeholders such as CommBank exploring buy now, pay later products, alongside its current portfolio.

Britt said the business isn't focused on what its stakeholders are doing externally, but how it can continue to develop a product that will work alongside the entire financial ecosystem.

"I would say that the [stakeholder management] framework is a very mature one for the financial industry to collaborate to ensure that core national infrastructure is successful and supported by the industry. And so it's the perfect time for Beem It to be supported by that ecosystem," he suggested.

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Josh McDonnell

Senior Writer

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