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Companies Behind Online Banking - Kasasa

This is the first in a series of articles on the companies behind online banking. This article features Kasasa, formerly called Kasasa by BancVue. CMO Keith Brannan, shared information about the company and its role in the Financial technology (FinTech) world.

Kasasa Makes Its Mark With Rewards-Based Checking and Savings Accounts

Q: Can you provide a little background on Kasasa’s beginnings?

A: Kasasa was founded in 2004 to provide consumers with the free rewards checking and savings accounts they deserve, equip community banks and credit unions with the product, marketing, and technology edge they can use to remain competitive, and change consumers’ perception that only large national banks have the financial products they desire. Today, Kasasa is the sixth largest branch banking network in the nation if all its clients’ branches were combined into a single institution.

Q: What is the scope of what Kasasa does?

A: Kasasa is a financial technology and marketing services company that provides branded retail banking products and services exclusively to community banks and credit unions. We enable these financial institutions to stay competitive in the industry while also giving consumers what they want, such as exceptional high interest rates, cash back rewards, nationwide ATM fee refunds and more.

Our free, nationally recognized, rewards-based checking and savings accounts require no minimum balance or monthly service fees. They include Kasasa Cash®, Kasasa Cash Back®, Kasasa Tunes® and Kasasa Saver®.

We couple our checking and savings accounts with marketing solutions that the community banks and credit unions can leverage. This includes a fully responsive website and an online account opening platform. In addition, we provide community banks and credit unions with a comprehensive library of marketing collateral that is compliant with the regulations that banking institutions must follow. Kasasa’s marketing reaches across all channels: in-branch, TV, radio, print, billboards, web and social media. In addition to Kasasa rewards products and the marketing support, Kasasa community banks and credit unions receive consulting on profitability and performance, strategy and compliance and training for their frontline sales people.

Our free, nationally recognized, rewards-based checking and savings accounts require no minimum balance or monthly service fees. They include Kasasa Cash®, Kasasa Cash Back®, Kasasa Tunes® and Kasasa Saver®.

Q: What are several key things consumers should know and understand about the company?

A: Kasasa's mission is to put people first in banking, where they belong. We want consumers to be inspired by their banking experience, so we combine our free, reward-based accounts with the stellar service community banks and credit unions are known for.

We only partner with local banks and credit unions because they foster relationships with local businesses and communities and believe in personalized service for each consumer.

Kasasa accounts are totally free – no monthly service fees, ever.

Earning cash rewards and ATM fee refunds is super simple – to qualify each month, consumers just need to do really convenient things that they’re probably already doing like: use their debit card, log in to online banking, utilize direct deposit, and sign up for e-statements. 

Free Kasasa checking offers cash rewards every month. Consumers earn an average of 34x more than average accounts (Kasasa Analytics), through Kasasa Cash, Kasasa Cash Back, Kasasa Tunes and Kasasa Saver.

Q: How has Kasasa made a difference?

A: Kasasa’s customizable accounts deliver an increased consumer lifetime value and reduce community institutions’ overall costs, allowing them to provide even better service to their customers. Our accounts demonstrate nearly twice the life expectancy of a standard free checking account. Plus, annual customer attrition is 43 percent lower among Kasasa accountholders.

Q: What have been some of the company's challenges?

A: One of our challenges has been overcoming consumer perception that only megabanks provide the technology they want, and that only the big banks have quality websites with which to interact. This is not true.

In addition to Kasasa checking and savings accounts, our company helps community banks and credit unions across the country create more engaging websites that can be easily and quickly updated. Through Kasasa’s online marketing platform, each community institution is given a single point of contact, along with a team of designers, account managers, programmers, copywriters and SEO experts at no additional cost. These individuals ensure that the community institution has all of the tools and support necessary to meet their goals.

In the next 3-5 years, Kasasa anticipates that they will have 1,000 community financial institutions providing Kasasa-branded accounts.

Q: What role does Kasasa play in the FinTech world?

A: Today’s highly competitive environment has made it even more crucial that community banks and credit unions leverage every advantage they have. With Kasasa, community institutions are more able to compete than ever before, by harnessing product development and marketing scale previously reserved for the nation’s largest banks. In fact, Kasasa accounts are 49 percent longer-lived than average free checking accounts. As the popularity of our Kasasa accounts continues to grow, so will the advantages to community institutions and the customers they serve.

Q: What's next for the company over the next 3-5 years?

A: In the next 3-5 years, we anticipate that they will have 1,000 community financial institutions providing Kasasa-branded accounts. This means consumers will have more access to our free, nationally recognized, rewards-based checking and savings accounts. We will also be developing new products to meet the financial needs of consumers at every stage of life.

Editor's Note: This article was revised on 8/14/2016 based on Kasasa's request.

Anonymous   |     |   Comment #1
It's onvious that Kieth works in the marketing dept since he was pretty wordy without saying much, and what he did say talked about Kasasa's benefits & accomplishments w/o saying anything about what it is.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #5
Isn't that the truth!!!!!.   It was like listening to a politician answering a question without ever answering the question.
KeithBrannan   |     |   Comment #6
You're right -- that is the downfall of us marketers!  Kasasa is a little tricky to describe in blunt terms since our services cover a range of needs. What it boils down to is we offer branded rewards checking accounts (in depth explanation on our website) and marketing solutions (turnkey campaigns, martech platform, etc.). We use the power of our network to provide technology and services community institutions need to remain competitive, but would be cost prohibitive otherwise. A good example of this would be our recent partnership with AudioEye, a company that provides increased web-accessibility to customers with disabilities. 
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #2
I read it but still can't figure out what this outfit does that any bank or CU can't do on their own.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #3
As best I can tell Kasasa is akin to a lightweight franchising model. A small bank or CU could put together their own marketing and web site (assuming the right staff) but it could be cheaper and easier to pay Kasasa do it (or follow their model). 

Though there doesn't seem to be much benefit for the bank or CU to use the lame Kasasa name with customers. Eg rather than design and figure out how to build a burger joint it can be easier to franchise a McDonald's. When a customer sees the McDonalds name they know what they can expect and order, but with Kasasa every bank customizes their offerings and requirements. Also afaik if you have a Kasasa acct at one bank then there's no benefits (eg atm fees) if you find another bank that also uses Kasasa. So, there's not much of a reason to use the name with customers (except to reduce the need for the Kasasa name to be customized in the example marketing materials).
cactus   |     |   Comment #4
Good point. "Kasasa" isn't a very strong name - and has ambiguous connotations.
KeithBrannan   |     |   Comment #8
You’re close, those are some of the benefits of working with us. Institutions are getting access to a mountain of experience and data from hundreds of community institutions. It’s cheaper, easier, and more informed. To your second point, that would be problematic if McDonald’s franchises competed with each other — but consider several local restaurants trying to pull customers away from McDonalds. Yes, those local restaurants do compete with each other, but by working together they stand a better chance at pulling market share from the larger more established institution. A good business example of this would be a farmers market. When all the smaller farmers band together at a market, it is easier to pull market share away from the larger grocery chains. 
KeithBrannan   |     |   Comment #7
That’s a good question, and many banks or credit unions can and do offer some of what we provide. There are two pieces of information that might add important context. 1) While community financial institutions can do this, most aren’t doing it. It might be too expensive, it might mean hiring on new skill sets, researching numerous vendors who have no experience in the financial world, or a number of other reasons. Partnering with Kasasa allows for the solutions without the overhead. 2) Kasasa brings branding. Consider that every community financial institution is competing to develop these products, when really they should be working together and competing with the megabanks (they control 70% of the market).

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