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Digital Dominance

Let’s give Wells Fargo some kudos (they could use a little).

Wells Fargo is the first to upgrade the technology in all 13,000 of their ATMs, allowing customers to withdraw money without a debit card. J.P. Morgan Chase and Bank of America will be following suit, but let’s face it, it’s got to feel good for Wells Fargo to have some positive press. They have devised a secure way to use a smartphone at the ATM by sending a code to the phone that lasts for 30 minutes and must be followed by a four-digit personal ID code. Jonathan Velline, Wells Fargo’s head of ATM services said that the next update later this year will make it even easier, requiring you to merely hold up your phone to a reader on the machine.

This move is not only convenient for everyone and, obviously, a big advance in providing a more secure ATM transaction environment, but is a critical first step in catering to Generation Z (Gen Z). Gen Z you ask? While precise dates for Gen Z differ, most agree it ranges from somewhere in the mid-1990s to now, following Millennials, often the focus of most marketers’ attention. Gen Z, as opposed to Millennials, have grown up in a world less economically secure. They are already concerned about their financial well-being as many of them saw their parents go through hard times over the last ten years.

Probably the biggest distinctions of the Gen Z-ers – their lives are digital. The first iPhone was introduced in 2007, so most Gen Z-ers have no memories of life without smartphones.

They can multi-task better than anyone (sometimes using multiple devices), they have never been in a world without internet, they live on their smartphones and they purchase with their smartphones. Yet, interestingly, in the study Gen Z @ Work by David and Jonah Stillman, well over three-quarters of them would rather have a conversation face-to-face in the workplace. They are the most global, social and connected generation ever. They are digitally smarter than previous generations, as well as more accepting of cultures and lifestyles.

Financial institutions need to be thinking about how to service this generation. Ten years from now, as the Gen Z-ers are poised to be the largest, most-tech savvy generation in the work place, how will the financial services industry service them? We can promise one thing-it will have something to do with their smart devices.