But will it catch on?
Millennials don’t do banking like everyone else. That’s why they want a special debit card that comes with personal touches like customized photos and AI-driven features to help them save more.
This is the vision, anyways, behind a new financial product called Hoot that launched on Wednesday morning and trying to shake up the world of payment cards.
While Hoot behaves just like any other debit card, it contains several features that set it apart. The most notable of these is a small screen that is tethered by Bluetooth to the owner’s smartphone and a companion app.
This pairing of the card and the phone allows the user to transpose a picture of themselves (or their dog or anything else) onto the card. The Hoot card also contains a physical button that, when pressed, will reveal the user’s bank balance, spending habits and financial tips.
Taken together, the Hoot cards creates the same sort of personalization options that millennials have long craved with apps and smartphones. Whether it will catch on is another question.
The challenge facing the Hoot card is a daunting one for two reasons. First, it’s not obvious that anyone wants a personalized, Bluetooth debit card. Secondly, a series of other startups—most notably Coin and its all-in-one credit card—have tried to shake up the existing card regime and stumbled badly.
The CEO of Qvivr, a Khosla Ventures-backed company that launched Hoot, thinks though this time will be different, though. In an interview with Fortune, Ashutosh Dhodapkar says millennial attitudes to banking make the timing just right for the product.
Dhodapkar points to a surprising statistic that most millennials use debit cards as their primary payment mechanism, and that 63% of them don’t own a credit card. He attributes this behavior to the generation’s general mistrust of the banking industry in the wake of the financial crisis and new regulations that restrict the marketing of credit cards to young people.
Qvivr, which was founded in 2014 with a vision for an all-in-one credit and debit card, also hopes the combination of savings tools and the ability to personalize the Hoot card with photos will give it a special cachet among young consumers. Here’s a GIF showing the different displays that can be seen on a Hoot card:
The saving tools that comes with Hoot resemble those found in popular apps like Mint and Betterment: They show spending breakdowns, and let the user know if they’re dropping a higher-than-usual amount in categories like dining. Meanwhile, the Hoot card also lets the user add notes to transactions such as “lunch with Emilio” and so on. Here is a look at Hoot’s dashboard:
According to Dhodapkar, Hoot stands out from the other apps because portions of this spending can appear right on the tethered debit card, and because the company offers artificial intelligence tools to make it easier to save and track spending.
As for making money, Qvivr will collect the small interchange fees as other cards. The company also plans to sell inexpensive digital “stickers” to help users customize their cards.
For its operations, Qvivr is partnering with payment giant Mastercard and with an undisclosed bank that is handling the backend compliance and regulatory issues.
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