Beem It: the payments app with social benefits

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Overcoming financial awkwardness
By Rachel Lobley, contributor. 6 July, 2018
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Backed by Westpac, NAB and CommBank, Beem It is a free download that allows effortless and secure peer-to-peer payments, no matter who you bank with.

We spoke to Mark Wood, Beem It CEO, about the customer-obsessed approach this new app has taken, and what other finance businesses could stand to learn from this very canny start-up.

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How did the idea for Beem It come about?

When we first set up Beem It, we wanted to create a solution to solve the real-life problems bank customers were experiencing when making or receiving payments.

To get to the bottom of the burning issues for Australians, we commissioned a survey and learned that around two-thirds of respondents were owed money by their friends and family. Crucially, we also learned that people are very uncomfortable asking for these small amounts back. We decided to use this insight to create a product that would help, and that was the moment that Beem It was born.

So you used this core customer insight to develop your product proposition?

Exactly. At Beem It, we are customer-obsessed in everything we do.

By constantly listening to our customers, we learned that there are lots of magical moments in life that could be complicated by splitting a bill. Everyone knows the worst moment of a birthday dinner is the whole group digging around for cash. We wanted to create a product that would mean that awkwardness around money could no longer interrupt the best moments in life. With Beem It, you can pay or be paid in a matter of seconds no matter which bank you are with.

Even now, we have customers in our office almost every day to provide feedback and test variations on the app – it’s crucially important to our success.

We wanted to create a product that would mean that awkwardness around money could no longer interrupt the best moments in life.

So how did you apply a customer focus to your overall objectives?

We actually began our product development with a customer journey rather than a business objective.

For a lot of traditional banking apps, the objectives behind them are quite ‘bank-centric’. Many banks hope that their app will help reduce calls to their help centre. For us, everything we do is driven by our vision to ‘create better money moments for all Australians’ by giving them a smooth, effortless payments experience.

What are the top tips you’d give to finance executives looking to take a more customer-focused approach?

I would offer three pieces of advice:

  1. Firstly, create a customer-obsessed culture in your workplace through regular surveys, research, testing and conversations with your current customers. These people are the ones using your product and they are the ones who will determine your success.
  2. Secondly, spend a lot of time challenging your team on how to get to a minimum viable product as quickly as possible. It’s not about building the perfect solution on day one. The first version of Beem It was built in about six weeks and sure, it needed to be refined and scaled, but it’s about getting to the product as quickly as possible so the customer can provide feedback.
  3. Finally, be aware of the culture of your organisation. What is the unconscious bias – it may be an aversion to risk or a bias towards revenue generation. You’ve got to understand these biases really well to establish what environment you’re trying to build your solutions in. Ultimately this will help you create something that works for the customer, not just for your organisation.

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A specialist in marketing strategy, Rachel has worked on consultancy, content and PR projects for a number of international finance and insurance brands out of London. Now in Australia, Rachel enjoys producing strategic content for the Aussie market and getting to know her new surroundings. When not at work, she's out enjoying restaurants and attempting to do some exercise.