Four friends are in a heated debate on what credit card to pick as a 20-something. The debate features a 19-year-old, involved in the crypto space, day-trading, and NFT collecting since 2012; another 20-year-old who just earned his real estate license and is a top 10% active user of the Robinhood investment app; a 19-year-old, with no finance or personal investment knowledge, who is regretting her mistake of asking which credit card she should next apply for. And then there’s me, a 21-year-old, somewhere in the middle—really interested in the industry and moderately active when it comes to my personal investments and financial health. 

The conversation goes for five hours with a plethora of different providers discussed, escalating to where I think our next installment of Sunday brunch might be canceled. Two days go by & our friend announces that she has signed up for—wait for it—a company that we’ve never even heard of. She explains that she went rogue because of the benefits and how educational the onboarding process was to her; a five-hour debate for no cigar.

This is a great  representation of how diverse our generation is when it comes to financial knowledge, needs, and priorities. As Ryan Hollister explains: “They’re (Gen-Z) just in a very different spot financially than their parents were in the previous generations. Their view of the world is a lot different… Simply offering them checking accounts and loan products is not necessarily meeting their needs.”

This resonates with our approach to traditional banks and services. According to a survey conducted by PYMNTS, Gen-Z is the least interested in traditional finance with 83% of the respondents stating they are frustrated with the traditional banks and credit unions as they are today. Yet, to this day, we still trust traditional banks and service providers more than neobanks. Studies overwhelmingly show that Gen Z bankers still prefer traditional financial institutions to neobanks and feel more comfortable opening accounts with them. 

On the flip side, there is web3, NFT, and cryptos—an entirely different beast in the world of Gen Z and finances. There are 15-year-old digital artists like Jaiden Stipp that became millionaires overnight with their NFTs. When I was 15, I would not have known what to do with that amount of money. All in all, this got me thinking: How can a financial services provider even begin to address all these niche problems we have? 

To find answers, I went to Current, a FinTech company based out of NYC with a mission to improve financial outcomes for Americans. To this day, Current has 4 million members. The platform provides mobile banking services from checkings to savings, getting paid faster, and everything a traditional bank can do, minus the fees. My friend, Adam Hadi, VP of Marketing at Current, shed light on the questions of how they built a brand that earned Gen Z’ers trust. And with a claim to the most followed financial brand on TikTok, Adam’s word holds weight in this space. Here are some key takeaways from our chat:

1. Tackle core problems first!

Adam: “Getting your core banking, being the place in which you put your paycheck, hold your money, is kind of the center of the financial world…and then you can build spokes off of that.”

Emir’s Take: No matter who you are targeting, there are universal problems when it comes to financial health. Having a card, a secure place to put your money in, we all need them. Once the brand has those tackled, you can penetrate into other services to delight consumers.

2. Financial decisions are hard. Acknowledge that, and simplify it!

Adam: “When you first enter the workforce […] there are a lot of things to figure out […] things that I take for granted just having learned at this point by being around it. You haven’t done that when you’re 18,20, 22—for a lot of people it’s intimidating—so they just ignore it. That leads them to make a lot of financial decisions that are not in their best interest. By simplifying a lot of that, bringing features & tools that typically aren’t available to you and making them not just available but accessible and easy to use, that’s what we are doing for an entire generation.“

Emir’s Take: It is hard for Gen Z to dip their toes in the financial waters. It is really confusing. Admitting that is not wrong; it only builds brand trust. The aim of the service providers should be to eliminate the friction.  

3. Be approachable.

Adam: “We have a brand that feels approachable, relevant; making a promise we can deliver on in the app. […] Wiith Current, what you’re seeing on the surface is hopefully nice and simple & easy to understand. And then, behind the curtain, financial technology is incredibly complex and, again, that’s why it’s not available to your average person.”

Emir’s Take: Create a brand that is authentic, genuine, and welcoming. That’s it. 

4. Build your unique community. 

Adam: “Community has always been a big deal when it comes to finances. […] We can move together, do things together. Community is powerful. It’s inherent in what we do.  Within the creative world, a lot of what we do it’s just based on relationships. That’s kind of hard to replicate because again it has to be real, it has to be authentic, you have to be delivering on that. In many cases, these are relationships that have been around for years […] It’s trust that’s hard to replicate & takes time. We’re the future of banking – that’s where it makes sense to be, the key here being there’s an authenticity to it.”

Emir’s Take: Your people are everything to your brand. Building relationships and nurturing them is what makes your brand different from other players. And trust is crucial for that. If your community can vouch for you and trust you with their money, others will too.

Adam’s TLDR: “Probably comes down to: in marketing, you can’t really fake it. You can’t really fake it for very long. Whether it be the promises you’re making, how you’re bringing in customers & then delivering on customers. You’re not gonna get there. 

Whether it be our actual technology, how we work with creators, it’s all fulfilling reality.”

Word Bank:

NFTs – Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are cryptographic assets on a blockchain with unique identification codes and metadata that distinguish them from each other.

Web3 – Web3 has become a catch-all term for the vision of a new, better internet. At its core, Web3 uses blockchains, cryptocurrencies, and NFTs to give power back to the users in the form of ownership. A 2020 post on Twitter said it best: Web1 was read-only, Web2 is read-write, Web3 will be read-write-own.

Cryptocurrencies– A cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency that is secured by cryptography, which makes it nearly impossible to counterfeit or double-spend. Many cryptocurrencies are decentralized networks based on blockchain technology—a distributed ledger enforced by a disparate network of computers.

We’re sharing the biggest trends in Gen Z’s world this week. Want these trends sent directly to your inbox? Sign up for The Screenshot, our weekly Gen Z insights newsletter. 

Trending 

The “Don’t Worry Darling” production has been an adventure, to say the least. The psychological thriller, directed by Olivia Wilde and featuring the likes of Harry Styles, Florence Pugh, Gemma Chan, Chris Pine, and Nick Kroll, was expected to be a hit. However, more and more drama has unfolded from the set. In September of 2020, Styles replaced Shia LaBeouf, as the latter was facing accusations of sexual harassment and emotional abuse from FKA twigs, as well as poor behavior to other cast members. Since then, “Don’t Worry Darling” has endured beef between Pugh and Wilde, Styles (allegedly) spitting on Pine and (definitely) kissing Kroll, Pugh refusing to promote the movie in person or on her socials, and recently-divorced Wilde and Styles becoming a couple. After debuting on September 23, the movie has been subject to both criticism and love. Though it currently has a 36% on Rotten Tomatoes and is negatively viewed by critics, fans of Pugh and Styles, as well as typical moviegoers, have enjoyed the movie thus far. @Loverrycore on Twitter posted, “‘Don’t Worry Darling’ is actually so good when you don’t have [someone] in your ear telling you it isn’t,” and this sentiment seems to be similar in most non-critic viewers. Staying drama-free, Kroll and Sydney Chandler joked about being a supporting actor on his TikTok. The rest of the cast could take some notes. 

Happy Hawaiian History Month! To recognize the month, the Screenshot is bringing you five Hawaiian Gen Zers to know. 

1. Melemaikalani Makalapua (@melemaikalanimakalapua on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube) is a 20-year-old living in Northern California. Her content focuses on Hawaiian culture and #LandBack. Melemaikalani is a professional hula and ‘Ori Tahiti dancer and offers classes to her followers. Check her out to learn more about Hawai’i! 

2. Lehuauakea (@_lehuauakea_ on Instagram) is a 26-year-old queer artist. They create art with ingredients from nature. Lehuauakea identifies as māhūwahine, Hawai’i’s third gender. They were featured in the New York Times for their work and partnered with the Human Rights Campaign for AAPIHPI Heritage Month. Visit their website to see more! 

3. Timothy (@timothy.burke on Instagram and TikTok) is a Hawaiian living in Colorado whose goal is to “spread aloha.” He makes funny videos about different shakas, Hawaiian flirting, and living on the mainland. Timothy also uses @humblebroke to help others budget and learn about finances. Follow him for a laugh! 

4. Lilinoe (@lilino.e on Instagram and TikTok) is an intersex Hawaiian and Sicangu Lakota environmental activist. Her posts center around her experience as an Indigenous person and decolonization. Lilinoe is also writing a book. Check out her life on either platform! 

5. Tama (@tamatcha18 on Instagram and TikTok and “It’s Tama” on YouTube) is a 22-year-old asexual filmmaker. They are in the process of making a film. Tama uses her platform to talk about asexual and Hawai’ian identities. He also teaches. Follow Tama to see all this and more! 

Four years after Greta Thunberg began striking for climate justice, Gen Z is back in the streets to demand more from companies and governments. According to Fridays for Future, the September 23 strike is centered around #PeopleNotProfit and Loss and Damage. The latter acknowledges the disproportionate impact of environmental damage on colonized countries and influence of imperialist nations in accelerating this destruction. In other words: the countries causing climate change are not the ones dealing with it. Thus, activists are calling on these extremely wealthy bodies to pay for the damage they’re causing. To see photos from strikes around the world, check out Friday for Future’s Twitter. At the UN General Assembly this week, Secretary-General António Guterres called for Loss and Damage provisions and fired at Big Oil for “feasting on hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies and windfall profits while household budgets shrink and our planet burns.” The clock is approaching midnight to combat ecological devastation, and conglomerates and Global North countries must acknowledge the millions who’ve protested and ensure comprehensive climate provisions. 

Similar story, different islands. Gen Z is reigniting the discussion over the liberation of Puerto Rico and Hawai’i by using social media. Tourism in Hawai’i has been a topic of debate, especially during the height of the pandemic, as reckless travelers destroyed natural infrastructure and disrespected COVID guidelines. In June of 2021, the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization approved a draft resolution calling on the US to remove its influence on Puerto Rico. Accounts like @ethio_rican and @ainamomona use their platforms to catalyze Zoomers to organize around decolonization. The rise of social media has allowed younger people to learn an intersectional history education, beyond what’s told in white-washed school textbooks. Only ⅕ of universities in the UK report decolonizing their education, and the number is similarly drastic in the US. The hashtag #decolonize has over 165 million views on TikTok, full of users speaking on generational trauma, donning cultural attire, and calling out racism and colonial mindsets. It’s pivotal that Kānaka Maoli and Boricua, as well as other exploited ethnic groups worldwide, receive liberation and full decolonization. 

Gen Z adores you, Harry Styles! After performing at Madison Square Garden for 15 consecutive days under “Harry’s House,” Styles sold out every show. He performed between August 20 and September 21, with breaks for other performers, festivals, and awards shows. To commemorate the record-breaking achievement, Gayle King presented Styles with an MSG banner — one of three, along with Elton John and Phish. Of course, the internet could not get enough of Styles the past month. The hashtag #LoveOnTour has 4.7 billion views on TikTok, and #MSGisHarrysHouse, one of the concert series’ slogans, has 29.2 million. On his last night, Styles gave feather boas to all of the attendees. He worked with non-profits Everytown and HeadCount to raise over $1 million for gun violence prevention and register hundreds of voters. All this to say: we don’t want to say goodnight to Harry’s House! 

✨ IYKYK ✨

✨ Proud of your company’s journey? Document how far you’ve come on TikTok or Reels with AJR’s World’s Smallest Violin. Check out JUV’s TikTok to see how to use the sound. 

✨ 2022’s newest offering: the most unexpected collaborations ever! Heinz Ketchup partnered with Fenty for a “ketchup or makeup” kit, as well as a purposely-stained thrift collection with ThredUp called “Vintage Drip” (yes, I’m obsessed with the name). Depop also just released a collaboration with Pop Tarts. Though they may seem strange, we’ve been loving the unconventional creations resulting. Who else is ready for a Gucci x Taki’s collab? 

✨ To jokingly show pride in your cooking, use this capture from “The Bear” on Hulu. @Realityresmy on Twitter jested, “the way this meme has done more promo for ‘The Bear’ than Hulu has.” Throw on an apron and get ready to go viral! 

Screenshot of the Week 

JUV’s Director of Brand was as confused as all of Gen Z trying to decode the Olivia Wilde-Harry Styles potential romance. With “Don’t Worry Darling” and Harry’s House, Styles is living rent-free in our minds right now. 

After almost 71 years, Queen Elizabeth II has ended her reign. With her death comes the question: what’s next for the monarchy? Reactions to her death have been mixed, especially amongst Gen Z. As a generation feeling further than ever from the monarchy, and having never experienced pivotal royal moments like glamorous royal weddings and Diana’s death, it makes sense that we lack the attachment to Charles and his family of other generations. A 2022 study found the support for it in 18-24-year-olds to be around 33%, compared to 77% in those over 65 and 62% overall. A circulating graphic on social media maps out every country England has invaded over its reign — all but 22. The hashtags #NotMyKing and #AbolishTheMonarchy have trended across platforms, especially Twitter, with the former receiving almost 200,000 interactions in the last seven days. With some anti-monarchy protesters facing arrest from British police, scrutiny further increased. Whatever the result of this discussion is, it’s important to view the queen’s reign with both sides in mind. 

To commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month, the Screenshot is bringing you five Hispanic Gen Z creators to have on your radar.

1.Eric Sedeño (@ricotaquito) is a queer and Latine creator, activist, and graphic designer. Sedeño has worked with Duolingo, the National Park Service, NFL Youth, and more. He is a Mexican-American from Texas, and “feels a need to be queer Latinx excellence.” If you want to feel like you’re on FaceTime with a DIY-obsessed friend, check out Sedeño’s TikTok! 

2. Daphne Frias (@frias_daphne) is a Dominican-American activist passionate about disability justice, climate change, and gun violence prevention. She founded Box the Ballot and is vocal about her experience with cerebral palsy and cancer. Frias was elected as the West Harlem Democratic county committee representative at only 21 and attended COP26 with the New York Times Generation Climate Initiative. You can see more of Frias’ incredible work on her Instagram! 

3. Anayka She (@anaykashe) is an Afro-Panamanian content creator and singer. She creates nostalgic music that melds soul and R&B. In 2021, she received over 241,000 streams on her Spotify, in 149 countries. She has dropped a 2021 EP, as well as five singles. Check her out on all music platforms, TikTok, and Instagram! 

4. Ethereal Michael (IG @thebirthofethereal and TikTok @2qu33r2func) is a non-binary, Latine influencer living in Arizona. Their content is based around fashion, with DIY fashion, OOTDs, and photoshoot content filling their page. They partnered with Nordstrom to showcase back-to-school outfits. Give them some love on social media! 

5. Sage Dolan-Sandrino (@thhrift) is an Afro-Cuban and trans activist, model, and journalist. She founded the TEAM zine and starred on “Growing Up” on Disney+, a show detailing Dolan-Sandrino’s experience as a trans woman of color. At only 21 years old, she is in Teen Vogue’s 21 under 21 and GLAAD’s 20 under 20 and has worked at Gucci and the National Black Justice Coalition. She is an incredible young activist and artist and can be seen on her Instagram! 

Another week, another huge celebrity event. In this edition, we’re diving into the Emmys and New York Fashion Week. Gen Z showed up to NYFW, creating content, modeling, and even designing clothes. For a generation that grew up on Pinterest DIYs, this is no surprise. Accordingly, brands catered their content towards social media over fashion magazines. Our generation’s favorite model, Mathieu Simoneau, served with Tom Ford, while Euphoria’s Angus Cloud brought in an Estimated Media Value of $417,000 for Tory Burch. The company TradeZing hosted a two-day NYFW event focused on all things metaverse fashion, from metaverse shows to an NFT gallery. Gen Z’s love of Y2K culture led to a heightened focus on designs of the era, with Fendi celebrating 25 years of its iconic ‘90s Baguette Bags. As for the Emmys, Gen Z racked in various wins. Zilennial cusp Zendaya won lead actress in a drama, while Euphoria was awarded 16 nominations. Diverse shows like “Queer Eye,” “Squid Game,” and “Watch Out for the Big Grrrls” took home awards as well. Zoomers hope to see more diverse selections in future years, as the Emmys still platform a majority-white ensemble. Next up, film festivals! 

The live-action “The Little Mermaid” is making waves in pop culture. The movie, including the likes of Halle Bailey, Melissa McCarthy, and Awkwafina, is set to be released in May of 2023. With the trailer alone facing 104 million global views, the movie is bound to be a staple in our media. Conversations around the movie center around Bailey, a Black woman, playing Ariel. Black parents on TikTok have been posting their children’s reactions and, yes, I cried a little watching them (see posts by Janell Brown, Dari, and Mac to get in your feels). Despite the joy coming from more Black representation in media, white people have taken offense by Ariel being portrayed as non-white in this version, even asking why the opposite racial switch can’t happen with Black Panther and Tiana in a live-action version. Kahlil Greene explains the debate well in this TikTok. Bailey responded to this racism, saying, “I want the little girl in me and the little girls just like me who are watching to know that they’re special and that they should be a princess.” As for me, I know Bailey will be an incredible part of our world! 

TikTok is doing Gen Z’s least favorite thing: imitating another social media app. The video-based platform is taking on BeReal’s feature, prompting users to post a 10-second video or still photo at a random time in the day. TikTok Now, as they’re titled, is currently available in US-based users’ apps. Zoomers are unengaged with the new feature; check out JUV’s TikTok of TikTok Now reactions. Dare Obasanjo Tweeted, “ You aren’t a major social media app until you’ve blatantly ripped off a feature from an up & coming competitor then posted a breathlessly earnest post about your innovative new feature.” That basically sums it up for us. After basically every app has copied TikTok in some form, it’s jarring to see the social media giant do the same to another app. Gen Z is sticking to BeReal — thanks, but no thanks, TikTok. 

✨ IYKYK ✨

IYKYK is a new section of the Screenshot dedicated to all the trends you need to know, now. Each week, we’ll bring you three audios, memes, or dances that are taking control of our social pages. 

✨ Chris Pine is Gen Z’s newest mood. He has recently made headlines with the release of “Don’t Worry Darling.” We’re in love with his facial expressions, with one interview video going viral. One user commented, “He looks like he’s the first female prime minister for a European nation;” another captioned it, “Me replying to my manager’s joke with ‘LMFAO.’” As a brand, use the photo to express frustration or boredom. An example is Evernote’s description: “When you hear someone say we’re just a notes app.” Unlike Pine, people won’t be apathetic seeing this post! 

✨ If you haven’t received the memo: laughing emojis are out. Though it can be tempting to respond to funny texts or popular TikToks with the emoji, Zoomers are not having it. Some alternatives are the skull emoji (​​💀) to signify dying of laughter and the crying face (😭) for when you’re laughing to the point of crying. If opting for letters, try lol, bye, or lm(f)ao — either capitalized or lowercase. 
✨ Remember asking your parents to hang out with friends as a kid? Gen Z and popular brands are bringing this vibe to social media, with the text “my mom said we can … if it’s okay with your mom.” We’ve substituted it for “drink coffee and gossip,” “fall in love in October,” and “get married.” Use this format to advertise products, and make sure to check out JUV’s take on it on our Instagram!