Why did we make our debit card miaow?

We think fintech brands can be a bit boring. Not all of them. But we want to be a brand that brings some fun to running your own business. A lot of the team at ANNA Money are self employed – they’ve made the same ‘jump’ to running their own businesses. So as a group of people, we know just how exciting (and maybe scary) it is to go solo.

Our product is also pretty straight. We don’t want nonsense to get in the way of people running their finances, so we keep it out of our service. But we think there’s room for a little bit of nonsense in other places, where it doesn’t distract people. Nonsense keeps you productive, sane, and creative.

One of our favourite innovation ideas — the Partner’s card (via Studio PSK)

This summer, while working towards our official launch in September (we actually went live on the app store in March 2018, in an alpha state), we asked a product design agency called PSK in South London to come up with ideas for “100 crazy debit card innovations”. It was more of a creative brief than a serious one, but we wanted insight into how we might innovate our own card in the future.

A hat tip here to our competitors – fluorescent cards, vertical designs and even metal cards inspired us to think seriously about what we could do. We researched reactions to card innovation, and each one polarised people – questions arose about whether they were even innovations, or just pointless gimmicks.

Marble cards, Vertical cards, cards made out of skin? (via Tim Bowditch)

We concluded that it didn’t really matter. There are a lot of reasons why you can’t truly innovate debit cards. Practical, feasible, regulatory ones. But in fintech, a card is the only physical thing you get given, everything else is a bit abstract or digital. It’s an important extension of the brand, perhaps the mostimportant one.

So we considered one final thing. How are we connecting with our customers on an emotional level? Beyond our service, how do we connect with their sense of humour?

Ideas, inspiration, research. All led to one thing *miaow*

We still debate internally about whose idea it was to make a miaowing card (no one claims it). We even briefed PSK to make a prototype of the physical card – some designs required batteries and speakers. We considered partnering with a card reader company to do it as a stunt. It was only in a meeting with one of our engineers that it was pointed out that our app notifications could sound however we wanted… the idea was so much simpler than we realised.

We’re not finished with innovation, yet. This is something to come. (via Studio PSK)

Our content may position the miaowing card as a joke, but the aim of our innovation is to achieve exactly what our competitor’s cards do – stand out in the market, bring the brand to life, and create desire and talkability in a sector that can sometimes feel a bit boring.

At the time of writing, we can’t confirm or deny that there will be open auditions for the next ANNA miaow in 2019.

It just makes sense.